Tracie's Reviews > Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
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's review
Aug 24, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: anorexia, nonfiction, eating_disorders, audiobooks
Read in October, 2011

Australian actress/model Portia de Rossi recounts her life-long struggle with body image and self-esteem, her demise into anorexia and bulimia, and her journey to self-acceptance marked by mindful eating and veganism.

While I found this memoir to be thought-provoking and overall uplifting, I nevertheless recommend it with a side of caution. The themes of Unbearable Lightness will be especially appealing to those struggling with food issues, and de Rossi is brutally honest. She shares many of the nitty-gritty details of anorexia, bulimia, binging, and compulsive exercise--details that certain audiences may find to be extremely triggering. I listened to this on audio (it's especially compelling to hear de Rossi's story in her own voice), and the first seven discs describe the descent into sickness; the process, the hardships, the trials and triumphs of recovery are condensed into an epilogue on the very last disc.

Now, de Rossi needed to write this book. She needed to tell her story, and she needed to dish out these details. Writing your story is freeing; understanding how and why you got sick is a hugely important part of self-discovery and recovery, because staring down the past is the only way to secure a future. But needing to write this book and publishing it are two entirely different things. To me, the arc of this memoir focused on exposing the disease, while the stronger story--the story that really and truly needed to be shared--was de Rossi's brave recovery. I wish that the publishing industry would understand this difference, and give us less books about the how-to's and more books about the how-to-overcome's--more books that are refreshingly recovery-focused (like Jenni Schaeffer's indispensible Life Without Ed).

Suggest Unbearable Light to the therapists, parents, friends, lovers, and teachers of people with EDs. But if you have an eating disorder or have struggled with body image/food issues in the past, consider limiting yourself to just that final chapter, the epilogue.

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Quotes Tracie Liked

Portia de Rossi
“Shame weighs a lot more than flesh and bone.”
Portia de Rossi, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Portia de Rossi
“Recovery feels like shit. It didn't feel like I was doing something good; it felt like I was giving up. It feels like having to learn how to walk all over again.”
Portia de Rossi, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

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