Today, the Netflix movie, To The Bone, has been released.
This film is based on the story of a young woman struggling with anorexia.
On the heels of the release of Thirteen Reasons Why, there has been quite a bit of controversy around how this film will serve the community, and people who are struggling with eating disorders.
Reviews are a mixed from commending the film for starting a conversation about eating disorders and encouraging people to find appropriate treatment, to condemning the film for a number of reasons, including the star actress, Lily Collins, who has a history of anorexia and bulimia, losing a drastic amount of weight to play the main character.
While the film has already created a conversation about truths and myths of eating disorders, the concern of it being a trigger for those struggling with disordered eating is very real.
There’s no doubt that the film will be viewed by people who do and don’t struggle with an disordered eating. AND, that many women will painfully identify with the quest for thinness and ability to count the calories in just about any piece of food they’re presented with.
If you decide to watch the film, I encourage you to be aware of how it may trigger you.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, particularly anorexia, this film may trigger you. And, if you don’t have the support system in place and tools to help you process the frailty, the struggle and the very real lows that are depicted throughout the movie, I would strongly encourage you not to watch it.
Triggers can bring on intense emotional responses and these emotions can be both positive or negative.
It’s important to remember that no matter what your emotional response is to a trigger, it's valid. But, you also have the opportunity to choose how you proceed after feeling those emotions.
If you opt to view it, I recommend doing so with someone who can support you and is able to have an open, supportive conversation about what you are experiencing: emotionally, mentally and physically.
And if your compulsion to engage in eating disorder behaviors increases, seek help from an eating disorder professional.
There’s also no doubt in my mind that many people will feel left out of the conversation after seeing the movie.
Those who aren’t living in a thin, frail body, but engage in anorexic behaviors and aren't treated because of their size.
People struggling with bulimia, binge eating and orthorexia.
I want to remind you that eating disorders don’t discriminate based on size. And, anorexia is not the only eating disorder that can impact people of all sizes, genders and races.
If used in the correct context, ToThe Bone can make a profound impact on our society’s understanding of how consuming eating disorders can easily become and can open a much needed, broader conversation about the slippery slope of disordered eating that starts at a societal level, the roots of body image concerns and the treatment of all eating disorders.
Again, if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, I encourage you to consider if watching the movie will serve you or if it will drain or trigger you.
Parents, have open and honest dialogue with your children about the seriousness of eating disorders. If you opt to allow your children to watch, watch with them and have a conversation about their experience while viewing and questions that they have about food and body concerns.
The most important take away is to keep the conversation alive. Eating disorders are fraught with secrecy and shame. The more we engage in dialogue, often times quite vulnerable dialogue, the more we can connect, support and heal as a collective.
I'm a self-love, body image and eating disorder therapist in Horsham, PA.
I help women and teen girls to make peace with their minds, bodies and food and learn how to see, appreciate and love all that they are.
I specialize in treating anxiety, binge eating and helping women learn how to stop dieting and really start living.
Questions? Get in touch here!