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Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Portia De Rossi

Narrated By: Portia De Rossi

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Date: November 2010

Duration: 9 hours 20 minutes


"I didn't decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . ."

Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work'first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn't enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women's health issues.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.


  • Nicola L

    I really enjoyed this book and it was great listening to Portia tell her story.

  • Alexandra Ornelas

    It was great! This is the first book I listened to when signing up for I really enjoyed it!

  • Janene Domingo

    I personally loved the book! I read a lot and started listening to books while I work, this is one of my favorite books now. I found her voice to be very soothing as well.

  • Anonymous

    This book was so well written, and has so much to say about our struggles with food. She let us in to her heart, and I wept for her, and for me, and for everyone with an eating disorder. I would highly recommend this book.

  • Anonymous

    I loved hearing her weave her story together. It was believable and sad. I had similar issues as a child and it was very revealing to hear someone else share this with me. I loved hearing her voice. I appreciate that she took the time to think through this and share some of her moments of shame and fear. I wish I could find more books just like this, as I feel better and stronger after listening. AND, it kept me busy for so many long hours in the car and cleaning.

  • Anonymous

    This book is an eloquent peek into the mind of one whose thinking has become distorted and irrational. It gives insight into any disordered thinking. She is so hard on herself whilst she is going through this, and she cannot see what we can see. For a while, we can also see what she can see. That is its power. Bravo, Portia!

  • zachariah savard

    Wow! I had no idea that Portia was so messed up before. It's interesting to hear a tale of anorexia. You always see those 'way to skinny' people and I always wondered what goes on in their heads.

  • Anonymous

    This woman is so full of herself, it is unbelievable. I always find it interesting when I dislike a person MORE after reading their autobiography. That is a sign that that person is not so great. I though this woman was interesting before listening to her dribble for too many CD's. Her voice is terrible.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting book. Hope a lot of people with eating disorders read or listen to this book. Blew my mind when Portia stated she wouldn't brush her teeth with toothpaste for fear of gaining weight from the toothpaste!

  • Anonymous

    How wonderfully told by Portia. For such a beautiful and talented young womn to have such low self esteem is a tragedy. Listening to Ms De Rossi tell her of her struggles is an amazing look into the difficult world of living in the public persona. You greatly deserve all of the happiness you have finally found.