Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Nook - My First Book Review of 2011

I just finished reading "Unbearable Lightness; A Story of Loss and Gain", Portia De Rossi's memoir of her life with an eating disorder. I think of Portia De Rossi as the beautiful Nelle Porter on "Ally McBeal" and, of course, as Ellen DeGeneres' partner and now wife. But this book gave me a totally different perspective on her.

I found her whole account of developing and living with an eating disorder endlessly fascinating. It seems that her eating disorder went all the way back to when she was 12 years old and had begun modeling but could never be skinny enough and then it followed her when she became an actress on "Ally McBeal" and as a spokesperson for L'Oreal for hair products.

Of course, it wasn't all about being as skinny as she could be. As she pointed out herself, it was partly a way to rebel against her mom for not accepting her gayness and also she just seemed to loathe herself - she could never be happy or free as long as she kept the fact that she was a lesbian hidden. She was living a lie.

It was interesting to read about how she obsessively weighed and measured all of her food, counted calories religiously and exercised rigorously. At one point, she was only consuming 300 calories a day--oatmeal with Splenda & spray butter for breakfast, a third cup of tuna with spray butter for lunch, a small portion of ground up turkey with spray butter for dinner, and sometimes for dessert Jell-o with, yes, you guessed it, more spray butter.

She ran on the treadmill in the morning, on her lunch hour and again at night. She sprinted up and down the steps of her apartment. She got out of her car on her way to work just to run.

Of course, she overcame her eating disorder and she attributed part of it to the healing relationship she developed with her horse and being out in nature. It was good to read at the end how happy she is with Ellen and her animals and their life together and how she finally has peace and acceptance with her family knowing she is gay and loving her no matter what her sexuality.

Now she is at the weight her body is meant to be at--she doesn't diet anymore or count calories or obsessively study the labels on cans of food or drive all over town looking for a certain fat-free yogurt. She doesn't work out at gyms. She does things she loves for exercise like walking her dogs, riding her horse and playing tennis.

I would recommend this book as a very fascintating look inside the life of a TV star and her struggle with self image. I found it to be very well written and felt like I was there with her experiencing everything. I really liked the way she wrote - it was heart wrenching and beautifully, honestly written.


Michelle said...

Excellent review, I had been wondering about this book and will have to read it. (First up, I need a library card!)

Chihuahua Girl said...

I read an article about Portia recently about her struggle with self image and her sexual preference. It also mentioned that she wrote this book which intrigued me.

Hooray for her for speaking out and loving and accepting who she really is. We are all different for a reason (which is a good thing). It doesn't matter what our preferences are in life. All that matters is that we are kind and loving to each other.

Thanks for reviewing the book. I think this will have to be my next book purchase! :-)

~ Tina

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I enjoy memoirs and will have to read this one. It sounds like Portia is in a good place in her life now.