This weekend I finished a book that I swore I wouldn’t bother reading — Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness.

As a rule, I don’t read celebrity memoirs.  Who cares?, I always think – just another method of look-at-me-overexposure.  In this one, we’ve got the narrator/subject, a still-skinny, beautiful blonde with her eating disorder.  (translate: I hate her already.)  And I was confused by some names on her acknowledgments page:  Oprah Winfrey?  Jonathan Safran Foer (friend? ghost-writer?).

Don’t even get me started on the contrived title play off of Kundera’s classic novel …

But what made me pick up this book, what made me pay retail for the hardcover, was all the backlash I heard from those who view de Rossi’s candor and detail as a “how to” guide for eating disorders.  These remarks pissed me off enough that I had to see/read it for myself.

This is not a “how to” guide, folks.  It is a well-written, professionally structured, honest accounting of de Rossi’s emotional and physical battle with her disease of perfectionism.  It’s so detailed that it’s hard to imagine she left anything out.  Being that she’s still young and making her way in Hollywood, I appreciated her willingness to make herself and her industry look as selfish and shallow and beauty-obsessed as they surely are.  She even dragged her mother through the story with her and showed how her obsessiveness germinated out of that relationship and kept building, even when she was at her sickest 82 pounds.

“For a straight-A student, a model, an actress on a hit TV show, the bar was set very high.  I’m the one who set it.  I thought that by accomplishing things that were exciting to people, I would receive their admiration and love.”

I found the most interesting part of de Rossi’s story to be her unflinching indictment of the Hollywood beauty myth and how we’re all, to some extent, sucked into believing it.  This weekend, my daughter flew into town to run wedding errands — she’s recently engaged — and brought a STAR magazine she’d picked up at the airport.  Angelina Jolie’s gaunt face takes up the whole cover.  She looks like a stick figure.  Inside, it’s all skinny bikini-clad girls, hot stars detailing their plastic surgeries, and multiple diet ads promising Real Weight Loss Results!

Me?  I’d never admit it, but I’m hoping like hell I don’t look/feel fat in my mother-of-the-bride dress this summer.

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