Thoughts on To The Bone

Sunday, 16 July 2017

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To the Bone - the new feature film on Netflix based on a 20 year old girl, suffering from Anorexia. Naturally, I watched this on the 6th July when it was released, presumably like every other individual who knows of the film and has been affecting by an eating disorder.

It's really difficult to produce a film on eating disorders. Everyone experiences them differently, with their own individual behaviours and comfort zones. And for that reason, I do have some respect for the producers of the film; for raising awareness, opening up a dialogue and demonstrating some of the behaviours/challenges that present.

However, the film doesn't sit well with me.

Firstly, Lily Collins who plays 20 year old Ellen, suffered from Anorexia in her teenage years and lost 20lbs to play this part. Sure, it was voluntary, but putting anyone who has an eating disorders history at risk, is not a smart move. Of course, this also meant she present extremely thin and frail on screen which just adds to the myth that you need to be skeletal to suffer from Anorexia.

Secondly, the film is extremely flawed and some what irresponsible. Choosing when you eat, going for random walks, unsupervised meal times and running away from the treatment centre is completely unrealistic. Anorexia is not glamorous; it's ugly. Oh, and the cheesy recovery ending is a little bit insulting really because sure, she may recover, but we all know it's not going to be as easy as 'and they all lived happily ever after'.

And then there's the gender roles. The male dancer, who weirdly romanticises the situation, manipulating and encouraging eating disorder behaviours, whilst also portrayed as the hero. The black female with binge eating disorder - the only black character who has a less common eating disorder - silenced. This does nothing but emphasise the misconception that anorexia only presents in white, middle class, perfectionist females when actually, eating disorders don't discriminate. The film needed far more diversity and gender equality.

I won't say don't watch this film because it does open the dialogue and to be honest, it's the most accurate representation I've ever seen which must count for something. I did find it difficult to watch, not in a triggering way, more that I don't ever want to be like that again.

If you do watch it, watch it for the right reasons. Not for thinspiration, comparative reasons or to learn new behaviours. But rather, to be more aware.
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Goals for Summer

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

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With the first year of my MA over, placement finished and final portfolio handed in, my summer has officially begun. I'm off to Croatia, Germany and Hungary in that time, but there are also a few weeks I'll be here in the UK and I have a few things I'd like to do.

Work on my fitness

There is a little bit of danger here which I'm fully aware of given my history, but for some reason I decided to weigh myself recently and I've gained 2kg. My clothes still fit and I didn't really realise but I have been feeling very sluggish as I've gone from walking miles everyday to sitting in an office. My goal isn't to lose weight but just become more active again and make myself feel better.

Start my MA research proposal

My dissertation research proposal isn't due until October but I have to submit a rough outline in September. What with me being away three times, I want to get a good head start on this now if I can so that I'm not stressed in September.

Learn to relax

Completely contradictory to the first two, one thing I have learnt on placement is that I cannot relax. I get bored watching Netflix, I can't stay in the house all day long and I always have to be doing something. It's not good for me to be sat relaxing all day as I get extremely fed up but learning to chill just a little bit will probably be beneficial.

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The first year of my MA

Sunday, 2 July 2017

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In 4 days, the first year of my MA will be over, which includes the end of a 15 week placement. In that time, I have completely neglected my blog, been completely exhausted 24/7 and become extremely negative/cynical. However, I'm leaving my placement with a distinction so perhaps it's been worth it.

It's been a really long 15 weeks and I haven't always enjoyed what I've been doing. I've become frustrated with the system, questioned my values and reflected on myself more times than I ever dreamed I'd be doing. I've worked with children desperate for help and support, I've offered tissues to the strongest of people and I've been there when people have asked for help and no one else answered.

I feel privileged to be in a position where I am there when people are at crisis point. I felt more grateful with my own life, family and friendships than I ever have in my entire life. I've used my personal experiences to help me guide those who are in far worse situations. I've felt ashamed of my white, middle class, straight privilege and I appreciate the family I've grown up in because I have been given a life full of opportunity.

I've become re-addicted to coffee and I'm pretty sure I've gained a few pounds. I've learnt how to drive properly on the motorway and can confidently drive around Britain's second city. I've felt fearful to be working in a city and I'm grateful I live in what I believe is a very safe neighbourhood. I've gained dark, heavy under eye bags but I've also gained wonderful friends who have been on this journey with me. I've discussed topics such as FGM, child sexual exploitation, domestic violence and substance misuse on a daily basis, and I've learnt that acting in someone's best interests may not actually be just that.

I've laughed and to be honest, I'd have cried too but I'm too exhausted to produce tears. I've learnt to value the importance of work/life balance and I've successfully maintained that balance. I've learnt that no matter how successful you are, everyday is a school day and there is always room for improvement. There is always room to grow, discover new things and it's always worth seeing something from the other person's point of view.

And although it's been hard, I am more determined, now more than ever, to continue down my social work road.
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