Book review: Unbearable Lightness

By Portia De Rossi
Published by
Simon & Schuster

Sometimes I choose what to read for reasons that go beyond the content of the book. In fact, when I decided that I wanted to read Portia De Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness, I didn’t even know what it was about. I had watched no interviews and read no reviews. I figured that whatever one half of the world’s most famous lesbian couple had to say, I wanted to know!

Despite not knowing anything about the book, I did have preconceptions. I was definitely not expecting the amazing book that this turned out to be.

In Unbearable Lightness, whose subtitle is A story of loss and gain, Portia De Rossi gives an acutely honest account of her struggle with eating disorders. Brought on by factors such as the need to feel above average when she was only in her teens and the perceived necessity to hide her sexual orientation when she was beginning her acting career, her difficult relationship with food and the hatred towards her body and herself are described with extreme openness and candidness.

Far from being a textbook on anorexia and bulimia, Unbearable Lightness takes readers on a journey that will enrich them without feeling too oppressed. I highly enjoyed De Rossi’s narrating approach. The chapters are relatively short and, despite the seriousness of the topic and the shocking revelations, they read incredibly easy. The tone is light but it does not make you take the subject lightly. That is an amazing feat.

De Rossi has written about her experience in a way that is not in the least patronising and that could really help bridge the gap between those who suffer from eating disorders and those who are trying to help them. Unbearable Lightness is a book that could change people’s attitudes and, ultimately, lives.

Read as part of the
LGBT reading challenge 2011.


  1. This one is on my wish list. I'll have to see if it's in the library.


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