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Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and…

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain (edition 2010)

by Portia de Rossi

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8315110,880 (3.84)15
Title:Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
Authors:Portia de Rossi
Info:Atria (2010), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Biography/Memoir
Tags:memoir, kindle

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Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi


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At times painful to read, this is a window into the mind of someone suffering from an eating disorder, and you can't help but feel anything but sympathy for Portia. She fully details her descent into disordered eating but, unfortunately, her recovery was glossed over. Rehab and therapy to recover from an eating disorder is hard work with many ups and downs. One could read this book and get the impression that it's easy, when it is not. Some of her "tips" at the end seemed silly. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
I swear once I'm done with my memoirs in my library, I'm not getting any more. I actually made to page 90 in this book. I picked up this book a few years ago because I was interested in learning about eating disorders. At first, I learned and then I got bored really quick.

For the rest of the review, visit my blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/113484.html#/113484.html ( )
  booklover3258 | Oct 4, 2016 |
If you're a fan of Portia de Rossi, this is a great book to read. Unbearable Lightness deals with her struggle with an eating disorder and her homosexuality early on in her career (when she played on Ally McBeal). It was heart-wrenching to read through her troubles, and while nothing new if you have read about or know anyone with an eating disorder, anyone who can openly admit their disorders in hopes of helping others is wonderful. Reading her journey and how she finds what she needs in the end brought a tear to my eye. And inspirational read about a beautiful, talented actress. ( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Great insight into the mind of this anorexic woman, but it was torture reading about it. ( )
  lkarr | Feb 6, 2016 |
I was surprised by how much I liked this; she writes with a very strong, consistent voice and provides a very rational picture of a ruthlessly irrational disease. She painted such a clear picture of her thinking without being at all pedantic; this made her voice all the more powerful: hers were just "normal" thought processes. Honestly, it amazes me that people read this book and, in their review, say "I couldn't relate. It didn't make sense." I thought *everyone* had those kinds of thoughts to some extent. I stayed up very late into the night to finish it.

The epilogue provided a slight shift of voice and small turn toward the pedantic, by which I decided not to be off-put as it was quite brief and, in a way, the shift was justified. She had found a new way of living and thinking, and she had to replace the prominence of those old thoughts with new things about which to be passionate: vegetarianism, learning new skills, reconnecting with former joys.

Ellen is introduced in the epilogue, in what is presented as a common occurrence, nursing wounded birds back to health. With that image, I thought "Oh no, don't say she "saved you". But then, on second thought, if the broken love that was offered to you as a child shaped so much of your thinking and compulsions, it is often true that when someone offers you a complete, safe, trusting love -- even incidentally -- that can heal much in your spirit (yes, I know that sounds cheesy). So, though I don't think another person can really "save" anyone, I think the love and care that is offered to a hurting person can certainly help the healing process and allow them to realize, at the very least, they can feel safe and begin to break old, deceptive life patterns -- or at least begin to acknowledge them as deceptive.

(There were several editorial errors, most noticeably using "exasperate" when "exacerbate" was required (p 185); the editors should have caught all those things.)
Article for work:

I frequently read in subject ‘clumps.’ Upon reading an interesting fact or blurb, I typically search for more books and articles in that area until my interest has run its course. In this case, what sparked my inquiry into restrictive eating disorders was, for me, a very unusual source. Though it is extremely uncharacteristic for me to read celebrity auto/biographies, I did read Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness: a story of loss and gain (2010). I had been watching “Arrested Development” DVDS from the Library and absolutely loved the show; so when I saw she had written a book, I quickly placed a hold on it and was pleased and surprised by how much I liked it. With a strong, consistent voice, de Rossi presents her thought-life as she developed her eating disorder and progressed into full blown anorexia and recovery. As I read more on the subject, the following three books came out on top.

Going Hungry: writers on desire, self-denial, and overcoming anorexia (2008) edited by Kate Taylor, includes essays that largely focus on excessive restricting, but they also explore how that pattern of restricting passes beyond food to relationships, intimacy, self-awareness -- even consumption of material goods -- in a quest to remain a self-contained unit, wanting and needing nothing to combat hurt and disappointment.

Gaining: the truth about life after eating disorders (2007) by Aimee Liu, offered a fascinating exploration of what restricting offered to women – the rewards they experienced and felt that went far deeper than just a super-skinny body: essentially, the void it tried to fill. Gaining includes the author’s personal experiences, those of other women, and existing research on anorexia, including the characteristics, personality traits, and early-life experiences shared by many female anorexics.

Appetites: why women want (2003) by Caroline Knapp, also provides much food for thought, going quite a bit beyond just eating disorders to hunger and desire -- of all types -- and why women feel compelled to deny them. Appetites includes numerous interviews with women, excerpts from classic feminist texts, and sociological statistics blended together in such a way to present a work that could be categorized as a cultural study. This title would, I believe, serve as a wonderful pick for a women’s book club that enjoys a more cerebral selection. For those with young daughters I believe it is particularly compelling as you are forced to realize the various gender characteristics you may unintentionally promote, even while, at the same time, each day you hate having to live under them and suffer their ill effects (‘promotion’ by virtue of the example we set as we accept them in our own lives). A reviewer on Amazon (“LCC”) adeptly summed up the general thrust of the book: “[it] focuses on the psychology of women and how society impacts women’s desires and sense of entitlement.” Appetites looks at what it means to feed, truly, the body and soul… and why so many women instead believe they deserve to starve.

All four of these books ultimately aim to explore what it means -- and the difficulty in the struggle -- to become healthy and whole. They are not “how-to” manuals for eating disorders. Rather, they cause you to think about the voids you may feel and the importance of dealing with those issues straight-on rather than acquiring self-destructive behaviors. They also will help you understand the thought-processes and impetus behind someone you love who is living with an eating disorder. ( )
  SaraMSLIS | Jan 26, 2016 |
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To Ellen, for showing me what beauty is
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He doesn't wait until I'm awake.
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Known for her roles on the hit TV shows "Ally McBeal" and "Arrested Development," de Rossi delivers a revelatory and searing account of the years she spent secretly suffering from bulimia, all the while living under the glare of Hollywood's bright lights.… (more)

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