Unbearable Lightness – Portia De Rossi (Book Review)

So this was my latest book.  Quite left of field from what I usually read, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, but I do enjoy reading Autobiographies from time to time.  I actually heard about this book while watching Ellen, who mentioned it on so many occasions, that eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I went out and bought it.

The book follows Portia from her early teen years, when her battle with weight loss and Anorexia was first beginning, to the present day (well, present at the time of writing the book) and her recovery.

Having never really “dieted” or suffered from any real form of eating disorder (though that’s not to say I don’t struggle with body issues of my own), the book was a little hard to connect with at times.  I found myself thinking how silly she was for hating the way she looked so much, and for going to extreme lengths to get it the way she wanted.  But then I would remind myself of how different her situation was to mine, and how easy, but unfair it is to judge someone when you haven’t walked in their shoes.  I grew up in a household where diets just didn’t exist, and I certainly never had any notions of trying to get into the modeling industry.  I’m certainly very lucky in that regard.  So I guess I just found it hard to comprehend a 15 year old feeling that extremely about themselves.  But as the book got on, and she became closer the the age I am now, I started to relate a little more.

I do understand what it’s like to feel the pressure to be thin.  Just look at the celebrities who we see as beautiful, who always grace the covers of the latest magazines, who get the leading roles in films.  You will see that the message (even though it’s not written) is clear that to be beautiful, to be admired, you must be thin.  And they tell us in order to achieve that body type, that beauty, that admiration, we must diet, diet and diet some more.  Society, fashion, film.  It never tells us that being different is beautiful.

Watching (or rather, reading) Portia’s decent into Anorexia was hard, but I feel better for reading it, and eventually coming to understand it…  Even though it was like watching a train you knew was going to crash, but could do nothing about.  The particularly descriptive sections that described the binging and purging made my stomach turn.  I could have skipped those parts, but they were real.  There’s no point sugar coating it, or ignoring them, or no one else will learn.  No one would truly understand.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has self image, self confidence or body issues, and anyone that struggles with their weight.  You might not connect with the whole book, but for the understanding of how easy it is to get lost down that path, and the enlightenment you get at the end, I think it’s well worth it.

I’m going to give this one 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars.

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