Portia de Rossi on Bulimia: 'You're Still Left With the Shame'
Portia de Rossi opened up about her tumultuous childhood years, which she said were marred by the loss of her father at age 9, followed by an eating disorder that started when she was just 12 years old.
As part of the online video series It Got Better, the Scandal actress explained that her bulimia started when, as a child model, her agents told her she needed to diet. She recalls starving herself for 10 days before a catwalk appearance, and then totally losing control afterward.
“When I got in the car after that event and just opened up a bag of my favorite candy and put my whole head in it," de Rossi said. "And I think, 'S--t, what have I done? I just undid two weeks worth of dieting.' I mean, I'm 12 years old. So then I vomit,” she explained in the video. “Erase the feelings with food, erase the food by vomiting...but you're still left with the shame."
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For all of her young modeling career, and even into her 20s, “everything became about what I looked like,” she added.
At age 26, she weighed just 82 pounds. Between the stress of her burgeoning acting career and the shame she carried about being a closeted lesbian at the time, her eating disorder was one of the few things she could control, she said. It wasn't until a routine physical revealed a “slew of ailments" related to her super-low weight that her recovery finally began.
After watching the full video, all we have to say is, wow. It takes a lot of guts to share some of your darkest moments with the world.
The video series started as part of the “It Gets Better” project, and features LGBT celebrities sharing their personal stories of growing up and coming out to their friends and families. De Rossi goes on in her video to talk about her difficulty discussing her sexuality, especially with her mom, while living in Australia in the 80s.
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“In my family it was like the worst thing you could be, is a lesbian,” she said. “It was the antithesis of what my mother wanted for me.”
Since coming out and marrying wife Ellen DeGeneres (whose own coming out on her sitcom in the 90s was a turning point for gay rights), de Rossi said she is infinitely happier. And she has some advice for those who are still having a tough time fitting in.
“There is no normal; who you are is enough. How amazing is it to be uniquely you?”