Actress Portia de Rossi, who recently took her wife Ellen DeGeneres’ last name legally, appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” Monday (Nov. 1) to talk about the revelations she experienced writing her new memoir, “Unbearable Lightness.” The actress describes her struggle with eating disorders – both anorexia and bulimia – which started at age 12 when she began modeling.
“It was very cathartic for me to write,” de Rossi says. “It was difficult for me to write definitely. There were a lot of tears shed on that keyboard.”
The former “Ally McBeal” star’s weight dipped to 82 pounds at its lowest. And she tells of restricting her daily diet to yogurt, laxatives and 300 calories, sometimes cutting that in half to 150 calories.
In her book, she writes about her first day on the “Ally McBeal” set in which she met her brother at a Mexican restaurant afterward to celebrate, ate heartily, then purged. She then went to a 7-Eleven, purchased all sorts of snack food, ate and purged again – all before returning home for the day.
“The purging made me feel so pathetic,” de Rossi, pictured right at the 1999 Emmys, says looking back now. “More than having failed another diet.”
The “Better Off Ted” actress says she saw the perceived eating disorders as simply being professional. She felt it was what she had to do for her modeling and acting career in order to justify the money she was making and meet what she perceived as the industry’s expectations of her.
It wasn’t until her collapse on the movie set of “Who is Cletis Tout?” in 2001 when she fought to recover. Medical tests showed a number of diseases in the then 25-year-old including osteoporosis, psoriasis and impending organ failure.
“I had a choice,” de Rossi says. “And I didn’t want to live as a sick person. I thought that maybe there was something out there that was going to give me joy. I didn’t want it to be all over.”