Portia de Rossi gets super honest about her childhood eating disorder
In an excerpt from the docuseries It Got Better, Portia de Rossi (who you might know as Lindsay Bluth Fünke on Arrested Development or Elizabeth North on Scandal) shares an incredibly personal, emotional anecdote. And we can only imagine how difficult it is to reveal something so darkly intimate. If you aren’t already a fan, It Got Better is a web series that illuminates some of the struggles LGBT celebs have endured in their past. Portia de Rossi’s moving episode is just one example of why this series is so immensely powerful.
When she was 12, Portia had an eating disorder, and was bullied about her looks. We know — it can be hard to believe such a smart, beautiful, talented woman could possibly experience self-doubts or body-negativity. But this candid confession serves as a perfect reminder: Even the very successful have faced the damaging consequences of unrealistic beauty standards and impossible expectations.
Before Portia became an actress, she was a model. She tells It Got Better, “I felt tremendous responsibility when I was 12 years old and I was put on a catwalk. My modeling agents had told me to go on a diet. So I didn’t eat for 10 days before then.” As horrifying as it is to learn a 12-year-old starved herself in order to feel beautiful, this is something that occurs every day. With frequency. Up to 24 million people in the US suffer from an eating disorder, and 86% of those people reportedly develop it before the age of 20.
Portia continues, even as she grows more and more emotional. “I get up on this catwalk, and I’m a little kid, and I’m posing and trying to be sexy and strutting around. And all the other models are making fun of my bushy eyebrows,” she says. And in order to cope, the actress turned to food. And then when that made her feel guilty, she purged.
“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,” Portia remembers. “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. Erase the feelings with food, erase the food by vomiting . . . but you’re still left with the shame.”
Portia luckily won the battle with anorexia and bulimia, and she’s as happy and healthy as ever. But for many who have struggled with an eating disorder know, wellness is a life-long war — and it’s not so easy to combat, let alone win. By sharing her experiences, Portia de Rossi shines a light on the dark side of Hollywood, and just how dangerous the pressures to look perfect and skinny and sexy really are. She also sends a comforting message: If you’re struggling with your self-confidence and your body image, you are not alone.
You can watch the entire clip on ETonline.