Portia de Rossi talks about the day she developed an eating disorder. She was 12.

Trigger warning: The post includes details of eating disorders that may be triggering to some readers.

Portia de Rossi – famous Australian export, actor and wife of Ellen DeGeneres – has spoken about how her eating disorder developed when she was a 12-year-old model.

The 42-year-old has talked about her “shame” and the amount of pressure she felt to lose weight. Portia is speaking out as part of a new documentary series called ‘It Got Better’.

“It still makes me emotional when I think about that day. It was horrible.”

“I felt tremendous responsibility when I was 12 years old and I was put on a catwalk. My modelling agents had told me to go on a diet. So I didn’t eat for 10 days before then,” she said.

“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.

portia de rossi on eating disorder
Portia in the height of her eating disorder. Image via YouTube.

“I got in the car after that event, and just opened up a bag of my favourite candy and put my whole head in it. 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.”


You can watch the video below. Post continues after video.

Portia’s decision to talk about her eating disorder reignites the debate about working conditions of models. Sara Ziff, the founder of The Model Alliance which works towards better working conditions for young models, wrote a piece for The Guardian last year about these poor conditions.

Ziff wrote that the modelling industry relies on exploitation of underage models by withholding food and pay. One model was told she wouldn’t be paid until she lost inches from her hips.

portia de rossi on eating disorder
In the video, Portia credits her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, for being her support throughout her struggles. Image via Getty.

“It was either starve, or go broke,” Ziff wrote at the time.

For Portia, it’s been 30 years since she started her career as a model. But, she says, she is still haunted by the memories of that time.

“It makes me emotional just thinking about that day,” she said.

“Ugh. It’s just horrible.”

Click through the gallery below for photos of Portia and Ellen.

To read more on eating disorders and the treatment of models…

The modelling agency withheld her pay… until she lost inches off her already tiny waist.

‘I now realise that I probably inherited my mother’s eating disorder.’

‘I survived anorexia. And I believe we absolutely should screen our models for eating disorders.’