Portia de Rossi Talks About Anorexia

FP_5994094_Rossi_Portiade_CJNY_110310 - Portia de Rossi Talks About Anorexia

Portia de Rossi wants to share a piece of advice:

“A lot of people don’t say anything at all because they are worried that that person is just going to completely shut them out of their lives and that actually may happen.

“But it is really important to say something. And the thing that you should say… the thing that I would have responded to was, ‘You look sick. You don’t look well. You look like you’re suffering’ – because the anorexic wants to be admired.

“Dieting is really hard and, to get down to that weight, you want people to admire you… ‘You’re too thin’ to me was more of a compliment. Who can be too thin? There is a joke about it. You can’t ever be too thin. So that just felt like a compliment.

“Anything that would suggest that a girl is not as in control as she wants to appear to be is a better thing. Because an anorexic wants control more than anything.”

… says Portia in a filmed interview.

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42 thoughts on “Portia de Rossi Talks About Anorexia”

  1. Question: Since so many others from the other post had first-hand experience, do you think this would be an effective tactic to get through to an anorexic?

    Sounds like intersting and, in theory, practical.

    • yes, definitely. when people told me i was too thin i took that as a compliment. i thought they were just jealous.

      when people told me i looked sick i finally began to look inward. it’s the only thing that works

      • I agree. Especially when it came from a friend. Parents–they always worry. Acquaintances–they’re just jealous. But a boyfriend or good friend, now that got to me. They pointed to actual things, like oh, this sticks out, you look frail, it doesn’t look right…all that helped. It helped bc it made me feel embarrassed, and it made me wonder if I could really see what I was doing to myself (I couldn’t).

        • Strangely, I’m curious about what my brother thinks. We don’t see each other every day, but often enough for him to notice something. I think if I heard it from him, it would hit home. Male perspective, I guess.

          • yeah i think if it came from a guy it would be most effective. i had a tendency to think girls were just jealous. but if a boyfriend or guy friend told me i didn’t look good it encouraged me to eat healthier (ie more)

        • very true. I was briefly anorexic in high school and I remember it wasn’t until a guy friend told me I lost my b❆❆bs that I thought I needed to change.

          And after I had my first baby I lost a lot of weight. It’s easy for me to lose – but anyway – my brother in law said something …and he never comments on stuff like that – so I knew I had gone too far….

    • I think it does work.

      Portia described it really well when she said anorexics seek approval. That’s what anorexia is…it’s trying to have a little bit of control in one’s life, usually trying to control how others see you and think of you.

      Thin can be a compliment. Sick is never a compliment.

    • Mmmm, yes and no. When I was down to 76 pounds, it was practically killing my parents with worry, and my friends had an intervention and told me how concerned I was because I looked scary. So, yes in that, hearing that I looked sick and scary made me want to gain weight, but no in that ultimately it was seeing people super worried about me that made me turn around; it was no longer about me, it was also affecting the people I love in a very negative way, and I hated that I was the one responsible for that. Hope that made sense? I feel like I rambled on there.

  2. I haven’t experience an ED or known someone who has (that I’m aware of), so I can’t speak from any personal experience – but I can totally understand what she is saying. A lot of people do seem to be competetive about their weight and that can be a negative thing when it goes too far. It certainly takes a lot of will power and control to be very fit or to count calories religiously – but both these things can turn negative. Just as lack of will power is one of the biggest reasons behind obesity. A balance needs to be found, but that’s a lot easier said than done for a lot of people – at both extremes.

    It’s interesting that she says she needed someone to tell her she looked sick, rather than too thin, as that just made her feel proud of her self-control. That is why when I see photos on this site of extremely thin women or read a comment that seems to proclaim admiration for stick thin legs and jutting clavicles – I will use the words ‘sick’ or ’emaciated’ as these are negative words and can’t really be interpreted as compliments. The more positive spin you put on unnaturally and unhealthily thin bodies, the more some women will see that as an admirable trait and not as something potentially dangerous.

    I hope that no one misinterprets her words about the will power it takes to be anorexic as something admirable. I hope they see that her core message is that anorexia (and other ED’s) are very destructive, perception-distorting disorders that need to be treated as anything but admirable.

  3. I’ve been there; and I agree with everything she says. Yes, I kept on hearing “you’re too thin, you look so frgile, your bones look like their made out of glass…” but that was just more motivating. Yes, I wanted somebody to tell me that I look like I’m suffering. And I do that now when I see girls around me who seem to have these issues (I have an ED-radar now :// ). In fact, I recently got up to a girl from my school and talked to her about it. I don’t know whether it helped, but my guess was right, and, although it’s hard to get my message (my post-ED message) across to somebody who is in the middle of it, it certainly didn’t harm her.

    • I think suffering is the key word. Anorexics do know they have a problem because they are suffering. That was the key point to me, when I realise how unhhappy I was, and that is wasn’t worth it, I knew had to do something, I didn’t want to live that kind of life. I do believe everybody will have a different expirience, but the thing I would focus on would be to made them realise that they are not happy, and that they need to find that desire to live again.

  4. I ended a friendship for 1 whole year she told me she and other people had talked about me and all thought I was looking sick and they were worried (it was in the very early stages of my anorexia). I got so angry, I felt backstabbed, and could accept people had been talking behind my back about me like that. So I broke off all contact with her.
    So it is a very difficult situation. Some people might react well and actually accept some truth in such words, others will just explode. I did the latter, so I dont think you can universally say, that is what you have to do if you know someone with anorexia.

    • I do agree. The thing is, I think everybody will have a different expirience with it. Like they mention in the posts above, suffering is the key word here. Most anorexic do know they have a problem becuase they are suffering, they just don’t want to change it because they feel safe that way. What they need to understand it that they are not happy, that was what made me change at least. I realised that I was so unhappy, and that I was making my loved ones suffer, and it wasn’t worth it. So that was what I would focus on, in the fact that living like that is not worth the suffering, and that they need to recover that desire to live.

    • From reading your experience and Portia’s, maybe there’s a certain way it has to be done?

      For example, your friends talked about you behind your back. I think that would invoke a negative response from anyone…no one likes to be talked behind their back. Maybe it also depends on how negative the comments are. “You look sick” vs. “You looks so awfully gross and disgusting.” I think negative comments are good, but the negativity should be in moderation. I can’t see how telling someone they look disgusting would help anyone.

      • I definitely differs for each person in my opinion. Telling me I looked like I was suffering wouldn’t have worked – it kind of sounds like I am working hard for what I had. But when my bf told me i looked gross and he didn’t like seeing me without my clothes because he didn’t like seeing my ribs was a definite winner. Nobody likes to be told that kind of thing.

        • again, i think one key point here is that is comes from guys. when my guy friend told me i was beginning to border unattractive that really hit home.

          even if the exact same words had come from a girl i would have just thought she was jealous

  5. I think this is solid advice.

    When I was younger, one of my closest friends struggled with anorexia. Before we knew that, we kept telling her “You look way too thin”, but she just kept getting thinner and thinner.

    When I went to speak to a guidance counselor for advice, she told me exactly what Portia de Rossi is saying here. No matter which way you try spin it, an anorexic person will only hear a compliment if you tell them they are too thin.

    And yes, that friend did cut me out of her life because I knew her ‘secret’, but eventually she did get help and reached out to me and we’re still close friends

  6. anytime someone would tell me i was to thin,i felt proud it made me feel wonderful.If at any point someone would say you look healthy i would freak out i did not want to be healthy i wanted to be thin.I’m much bigger now than i once was and i go though phases even now where i don’t eat or just binge..I Really can relate to alot of what she said and it’s sad..

    • it’s not that she’s talking about it a lot. she just wrote a book and all of these quotes are pulled from her book tour, the book itself, or the interviews related to the book (i.e. her oprah interview)

      i personally think it’s great that she’s opening up. her comments are much different than most of hollywood. you normally hear “i struggled with an ED once but know i eat whatever i want and don’t worry”.

    • I think it’s all quotes from one or two interviews now that her book is coming out. It seems like she’s talking about it again and again, but it’s just different quotes being pulled from the same conversation.

  7. She’s right on.
    I have been anorexic too and everytime someone said that I was too thin I was furious and denied the evidence.
    I even heard someone saying that I used to be a beautiful girl and that my weight loss made me ugly and old-looking. I thought they were blind……
    Then one day I saw my dad and my sister crying because of me and it put everything back into perspective. That was the day I decided to stop the crap and seek help.
    It hasn’t been easy but I did it <3

  8. I can relate to what shes saying in the friend sense, my friend was really ill but when ever i said something she flipped but i would have to tell her jesus “you look like sh*t” but by that time she was to ill to realise that she looked terrible. I didnt mean to be hurtful it was just I guess having to be frank was the best thing at the time.

  9. id say to an anorexic(i was bulimic) wow..so you dont think you deserve to live happily freely, fully? you must not like yourself very much. would you treat someone else the way you treat yourself?

    1 magazines are the devil with their photoshopping evil selfes
    2 in this fast society where all that matters is status and money its easy to forget that you only get one chance at life. if life sucks then make changes, because starving is not going to solve your problem(unless you are booked for runway shows, but thats another problem)

  10. I can´t stand this woman for some reason. I find her face really ugly and how can i respect someone that legally changes their name to Portia de Rossi because it sounds European and therefore sophisticated? And since i´m b—ing, why is that women keep forgetting to dye their roots? That blonde color doesn´t even suit her and don´t even get me started on the eyebrows. Ouch, i´m being mean, i know, but it had to be said.

    • Portia has shown nothing to the public but a 100% down-to-earth kindhearted person. She speaks out for gay rights, is in a commited relationship, and is reaching out to those with eating disorders, telling them to love themselves.

      Who are you to come on here and whine about her roots? And plenty of celebrities change their name if it isn’t memorable. And she just changed her last name to Ellen’s.

      Being so shallow will not bring you happiness in life.

      • Thanks for the advice. And i´m not so shallow i have to change a perfectly nice name into a ridiculous one. Jeez. I can´t understand being so in love with a celebrity you take any attack to them personally. Chill.

      • Thanks for the advice. And i´m not so shallow as to have to change a perfectly nice normal name into a ridiculous one. Jeez. I can´t understand being so in love with a celebrity you take any criticism towards him/her personally. Chill; taking everything so seriously won´t bring you happiness in life.

  11. I see her point. When my family makes a comment, it’s like, yeah, so?

    Then I saw a good friend of mine not too long ago and I kid you not, the very first thing she said was, “Do you eat?!” She said it playfully, but it gave me pause. I was a little smug, I have to admit. But hearing it from someone who hadn’t seen me in a long time, who wasn’t my family, made me think about my self perception.

  12. Wow, so glad I read this. I have friends who are struggling with eating disorders and it’s difficult to get through. Saying “you’re too thin” definitely DOESN’T help; Portia is totally right saying they take it as a compliment. She would know. Glad she got better.

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