Portia De Rossi, wife of talk show host Ellen Degeneres, has a new book out which highlights her struggle with Anorexia. This disease is often misunderstood with people quick to mis-judge it as extreme vanity or perhaps stupidity. In fact, it is a lonely, isolating disorder where a person can see herself as extremely bony and underweight (unlike the common assumption that they only see themselves as overweight), yet still obsess over that inch of fat on her waistline.
The book ‘Unbearable Lightness’, is a raw and detailed account of just how gruelling this disorder is both mentally and physically. And Portia doesn’t sugar coat any of the details. This is the disease stripped bare. In an interview on the Ellen show, Portia was asked what you would say to a friend who you suspect has this disorder. What can you say so you can help them and make a difference?
Portia explained, ‘it’s important not to say you look too thin or I’m worried about you, as to them this feels like a compliment wrapped up with love. You are recognising how thin they look at the same time as saying you care about them. You need to say ‘you look sick’ or ‘you look like you’re suffering’, anything that makes them think they’re not in control’.
I found this interesting as I often encounter girls who are on the verge of being ‘too thin’. But it’s a tricky topic as you run the risk of alienating a friend if you confront them. But as Portia illustrates it is vitally important to say something and run the risk of losing their friendship. The alternative is saying nothing and maybe losing them altogether.
Not the most ‘feelgood’ topic I know but one we can all empathise with in this diet, image obsessed world…