Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders
This past weekend I watched the much-anticipated film To The Bone, and these were my initial reactions:
what the hell was that? it was completely unrealistic. it made the treatment seem like a joke, it emphasized the already stereotypical body type associated with anorexia. they barely focussed on recovery. the therapist didn’t help her. there was basically no supervision in the treatment house. did they seriously make an actress with a history of an eating disorder lose weight to portray someone with anorexia!?
I was extremely disappointed. I thought the film was going to try to help people better understand what eating disorders are. I thought they were going to try and show the process of treatment, and eventually recovery. The movie didn’t do hardly any of that. Later that evening, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across eating disorder therapist, speaker, and author Carolyn Costin’s review of To The Bone (link below)
After reading Costin’s review I realized that I misunderstood the intentions of the movie. I didn’t know that the movie was based on one person’s experience. I didn’t know all of the details behind Lily Collins’ weight loss and preparation for the role. Costin’s review shifted my perspective, and I would recommend reading her thoughts.
That being said, I think the movie did do a nice job of portraying how much of a different effect treatment can have if the person struggling is choosing to get help rather than feeling forced. That was absolutely true for me. The first time I went to treatment I only did it because my parents didn’t give me much of a choice, and they were concerned about me. That treatment facility left a very small impact on my recovery. However, when I went to treatment because I knew that I was sick and I actually wanted help – that’s when the most progress was made.
I think Collins did a phenomenal job with her attitude, body language, and realistically showing what some eating disorder behaviors look like. I think she captured the mentality of someone so immersed in their eating disorder.
However, I wish that she had challenged the idea for her to lose weight for the movie. She is already a thin woman, but had she stayed at her initial weight she would’ve represented so many more people battling eating disorders. She would have given more of a voice to those of us who don’t look emaciated but still have a valid struggle.
The other main issue I had with the film was how treatment was portrayed. There was one counselor at the house, and she was rarely around. The fact that the clients had little to no supervision, thus resulting in very little progress being made seemed totally unrealistic. The movie made the treatment seem like an absolute joke, and that’s what upset me so much.
However, I’m comparing my experiences in treatment to the ones the writer of To The Bone had. Maybe she really did go to a treatment facility with little supervision and vastly different rules from the ones I went to. That is entirely possible. Again, I went into this movie thinking it was meant to be educational on a more general level instead of specific to one person’s story.
To The Bone wasn’t what I was hoping for, and I wouldn’t watch it again. If you are trying to better understand what an eating disorder is, or how most treatment centers actually are (from my experience as well as many people I know), then don’t watch it. If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, or newly in recovery, don’t watch it because it could be extremely triggering.
In my opinion, To The Bone didn’t give eating disorder awareness the voice that it actually needed.
Here are a couple of other reviews that I would recommend reading if you’re interested:
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.