There are two things I knew about Portia de Rossi before reading her book:
1. She was hilarious on “Arrested Development”
2. She is married to Ellen Degeneres
I never watched her when she was on Ally McBeal, but as explained in her wonderful memoir, “Unbearable Lightness” this is where her eating habits got out of control and she dropped to a frightening 89lbs. Scary and enlightening all rolled into one, this memoir explains the ups and downs (literally) that took place in Portia de Rossi’s life.
Born in Australia as Amanda Rogers, she had issues with weight at an early age, when ridiculed and critiqued by model agencies. A self complex was created and Portia’s (who changed her name, because there was another Amanda Rogers in her school) battle with controlling her food intake began.
After learning that she was joining the cast of the very popular show Ally McBeal, the virtually unknown actress knew that her sexuality and weight were now going to be mainstream, so she hid both issues. Binging and purging became a regular habit in the early years of Ally McBeal. She’d go almost a whole day without eating and then lose control. Much of the disease that was described, was more of a battle with your level of restraint. It was a sad and eye opening view to the world of an anorexic.
After being confronted by her Mother and her brother, Portia chose to look into getting some help (for something she didn’t think was a problem in the beginning), but when discussing it and talking with professionals, Portia is lucky enough to gain control of her anorexia. She explains that it is always a fighting battle and it doesn’t go away right away, but she has learned to control it and maintain a healthy lifestyle with a much better relationship with food.
As soon as she began to control her weight issues, she was able to proudly announce to the world about her sexuality. She describes it as scary and thought it might be detrimental to her career, but from a personal standpoint, that seemed to be the time that Portia de Rossi become a household name. She was beautiful, healthy and happy. Finding love with the funny and talented Ellen Degeneres, she has maintained a level of balance that we all see today when she does interviews and stars in funny television programs like “Arrested Development” and “Better of Ted”.
It was an insightful and raw story of someone who struggled with a battle that sometimes goes unnoticed because our society is too scared to speak up to people who are drastically losing weight. It’s hard for me to believe that she is a first time author, because it was written from such a real place with a seamless effort. I hope she continues to produce literature, because Portia de Rossi has a talented gift.