Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Portia De Rossi Taught Me

One of the great luxuries of being unemployed is that I can tune into daytime TV when the mood strikes. This is a surprisingly rare occurrence, but when I saw that Portia De Rossi was on Oprah this week I decided to tune in. I like De Rossi. She seems funny and interesting and I’m sure there are reasons other than her stunning good looks that she snagged the ever awesome Ellen DeGeneres.

I was also interested because she was talking about her struggles with anorexia and bulimia, which she chronicles in her new book, Unbearable Lightness. I had no idea how powerful that hour of television would be for me. I don’t have an eating disorder, but I am always concerned about how easily women can fall into that trap. Watching someone as smart and beautiful as De Rossi talking about her own struggles with self-esteem and self-loathing, I found myself wishing that every young girl was watching the show.

When I made the choice to start living a cleaner lifestyle many of the decisions that I made involved my nutrition and fitness goals. I started working out, cut down on refined sugars and processed foods and began paying attention to the chemicals that surround me. It has felt like a good shift in my life and in my health, but it has also meant that my weight has changed drastically. That’s something I’ve blogged about often – it’s hard not to feel good about going from a size 10 to a size 4, especially when you are feeling stronger and healthier. It’s the sort of goal that we are conditioned to applaud.

But I can see how easily the weight loss could become addictive. I haven’t paid much attention to the pounds I’ve lost. I’ve never been one to weigh myself and I wasn’t particularly unhappy as a size 10, so my transformation was never about losing weight. But every time my pants got looser it seemed like cause for celebration. And, even though I never worried much about my weight before, I now find myself scrutinizing my body and analyzing it in a way that I might not have in the past – I look at my stomach and still see a flabby little paunch instead of seeing a waist that has slimmed down considerably after all those crunches.

This warped body image that women seem unable to shake disturbs me, especially when I see how easily anorexia and bulimia can take hold of even the smartest, savviest of women. I think that the choices I have made have been smart ones in terms of improving my life and my health, but De Rossi’s interview made me more aware of the need to also nourish the soul and remind yourself that it’s not about that little belly bulge, but about the feeling of strength and happiness that I get whenever I work out.

After watching her interview, I really want to read her book. I want to know more about how she overcame her issues and how she keeps from slipping back into them. I think that I could learn a lot from her. I’ve already realized that I need to work harder at being happy about who I am and embracing this healthy body that I’ve worked so hard to create.

1 comment:

Gillian Williamson said...

She was actually on Ellen today. Really fascinating story, I'm glad your bringing it to people's attention.