Actress Portia de Rossi battled the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia for years and once starved herself down to 82 pounds on a 300-calorie-a-day diet.
De Rossi, who stars on the hit TV series Scandal, said her anorexia and bulimia began when she was 12 and started modeling.
“I felt tremendous responsibility when I was 12 years old, and I was put on a catwalk,” Portia told ET (see video). “My modeling agents had told me to go on a diet, so I didn’t eat for 10 days before then.”
Despite her best efforts to lose weight and look sophisticated, Portia, 42, said the other models laughed at her.
“I’m up on this catwalk, and I’m a little kid posing and trying to be sexy and strutting around, and all the other models are making fun of my bushy eyebrows,” de Rossi recounted.
Portia said she immediately felt the urge to binge-ate to cope with the depression, embarrassment and shame.
“When I got in the car after that event, I just opened up a bag of my favorite candy and just put my whole head in it,” said de Rossi. “And I think, ‘Sh*t, what have I done? I just undid two weeks worth of dieting.’ So then I vomited.”
Portia said her anorexia and bulimia kicked up again when she starred on the hit TV series Ally McBeal, where she co-starred opposite the super-skinny Calista Flockhart.
De Rossi, who detailed her longtime anorexia and bulimia battles in her 2010 memoir, Unbearable Lightness, said she used food to cope with negative feelings.
“I erase the feelings with food, erase the food with vomiting, but you’re still left with the shame,” she said.
Portia said she subsisted a starvation diet of 150 to 300 calories a day, took up to 20 laxatives and exercised for hours, with her weight plunging to an anemic 82 pounds, Examiner reported.
De Rossi collapsed on the set of her film Who Is Cletis Tout? in 2001 and discovered her chronic malnutrition led to several serious health conditions: osteoperosis, liver cirrhosis, organ failure and the auto-immune disease lupus.
Alarmed by her health news, Portia then went to the opposite end of the spectrum by binge-eating and gaining 85 pounds in 12 months, topping the scales at 168 pounds. The turning point came when de Rossi met Ellen DeGeneres.
“Ellen saw a glimpse of my inner being from underneath the flesh and bone, reached in and pulled me out,” said de Rossi.
DeGeneres and de Rossi married in August 2008. Now comfortable in her skin and with her sexuality, the openly gay Portia said love has changed her life.