Unbearable Lightness

Today’s Fiction Friday should actually be called “Non-Fiction Friday” (except then we lose our alliterative title). I don’t often read non-fiction, and it’s even more rare that I pick up an autobiography (I’m not even sure if I’ve read an autobiography before). But, as I mentioned in my WCW post on Wednesday, I read Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness

I've never had an eating disorder (I like food too much to give it up in any way). So it was fascinating to me to read about the struggles that come with anorexia and/or bulimia. 

Portia is a thin woman to begin with, but her memoir takes us back to the time when she dropped to her lowest weight - 82 lbs on a nearly 5'7" frame. It's shocking and sad that she felt like she had to be that thin in order to make it in LA, after moving from Australia. Her disorder was exacerbated by her need to hide her sexual orientation, which didn't help her recovery process. And she was only twenty five. 

This book is impressive in its brutal honesty. She doesn't shy away from nitty-gritty, doesn't sugarcoat, or leave out details. She tells you what she went through, the good times and the bad, leaving herself open and vulnerable. It's well written; while the nerdy editor in me thinks there could have been an extra round of copyediting, to get rid of the mini kinks, for the most part, it flowed. She struggled the most while filming Ally McBeal, so that's where the bulk of the book takes place, but we also get a glimpse at her childhood, her not-entirely-healthy relationship with her mother, her failed first marriage, and her quest to make a name for herself. All while pretending to be someone she wasn't. 

True nobility isn’t about being better than anyone else; it’s about being better than you used to be.
— Portia de Rossi

I find it interesting that a lot of reviews spoke about how she spent a lot of time on her disorder and not a lot of time on her recovery process in the epilogue. I imagine it's because the recovery process is different for everyone. A big part of Portia's recovery was meeting - and eventually marrying - Ellen DeGeneres, so it's not actually a guide for other anorexics. 

Most important, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like.
— Portia de Rossi

After finishing this, I definitely find it mind-boggling that she (seemingly happily) played Lindsay Bluth for four seasons, a character whose mother is constantly mocking her for her weight. It must have hit close to home, but as far as I can tell, she enjoyed her role. 

As someone who greatly admires Portia, reading her memoir was bittersweet. On the one hand, I just wanted to reach through time and pages and shout "EAT SOME FOOD, PLEASE" at her, while on the other, I understood that these experiences shaped her into being the person - and the actress - she is today. I only hope that other people suffering from anorexia or bulimia find some hope in her words.

Life can take so many twists and turns. You can’t ever count yourself out. Even if you’re really afraid at some point, you can’t think that there’s no room for you to grow and do something good with your life.
— Portia de Rossi