Sunday, 16 July 2017

Thoughts on To The Bone

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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