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What's it like to struggle with eating disorders? Portia de Rossi tells all in 'Unbearable Lightness'

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November 01, 2010|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • Actress Portia de Rossi chronicles her eating disorders in her new book, "Unbearable Lightness."
Actress Portia de Rossi chronicles her eating disorders in her new book,… (Lori Shepler / Los Angeles…)

Body Image 101: Like it or not, studies show attractive people have an edge in everything from being hired to being set free (yes, they are less likely to be found guilty at trials), according to a report from the Social Issues Research Centre in Britain.

But aspiring to an unrealistic standard of beauty can lead to destructive eating disorders, which is what happened to actress Portia de Rossi.

Phoebe Flowers of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reflects on the buzz around De Rossi's new book, "Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain," which hit bookstores Monday. De Rossi was on the TV series "Ally McBeal" and currently appears in "Better Off Ted." " 'Unbearable Lightness,' begins in 1997, the year before she joined 'McBeal' — the show on which, she says, her anorexia and bulimia took off in step with her career," Flowers writes on the paper's blog the Skinny.

In the commentary, Flowers also reflects on her younger, skinny-girl self (no, she didn't have an eating disorder) who once defended razor-thin celebrities but now has abandoned that stance in a more critical look at how society helps create extreme eating disorders.

What might contribute to our obsession with thinness and beauty? The Social Issues Research Centre lists three factors in "Mirror, mirror: A summary of research findings on body image":

  • "Thanks to the media, we have become accustomed to extremely rigid and uniform standards of beauty.
  • "TV, billboards, magazines, etc., mean that we see 'beautiful people' all the time, more often than members of our own family, making exceptional good looks seem real, normal and attainable.
  • "Standards of beauty have in fact become harder and harder to attain, particularly for women. The current media ideal of thinness for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population."

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