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To The Bone

This is being released at a slightly different time this week because I wanted to write about the Netflix Original Movie ‘To The Bone.” It has been talked about by so many different organizations with many individuals talking about it poorly and others singing it praises. Having had the time to now sit down and watch it, I wanted to let you know my thoughts.

First off, I do think it is good that eating disorders are finally being talked about in mainstream media and that people are having to look at the disorder not just through the lens of modeling or images in the media. The conversation about eating disorders is sadly one that is often hushed, minimized, dismissed or just all together ignored. We absolutely need to talk more about eating disorders, who they affect, what they look like and what we can do to decrease how many people suffer for so long.

As for the movie, the first thing I want to say is it depicts one story of an eating disorder. There is no way to appropriately or accurately generalize eating disorders and yet in showing one example, so often they become generalized. This is especially true for those suffering as they often feel if they don’t look a certain way then they aren’t really “sick.” So if you are to watch the movie, I really hope you keep that in mind and allow yourself to realize that your story is your story and that it matters.

As for what else I found in the movie, here are some of my thoughts:

  • It demonstrates a lot of eating disorder behaviors. In some ways, I understand they wanted to accurately depict some of the ways eating disorders manifest but I can also see just how triggering this would be for individuals who have struggled and how damaging learning such behaviors can be for anyone who is at the beginning stages of an eating disorder.
  • How common it is for people and loved ones to want to find A reason for why someone is sick. So often we believe that if we can just find a singular cause for why someone struggles than we can fix it and that person will be better. Eating disorders aren’t caused by 1 single thing. Rather, they are used to cope with the many things that happen in life that cause a person to feel feelings that they don’t want to experience.
  • The movie did a brilliant job of highlighting that when Ellen’s feelings rose, her behaviors increased. I think this shows just how connected one’s eating disorder is to the emotions he/she avoids.
  • One of the lead roles was a male who was struggling with anorexia. This is so important in demonstrating that eating disorders don’t just affect females. I believe the more we demonstrate that this eating disorder doesn’t discriminate, the more space we create for individuals to come forward.
  • I actually really liked the role of the therapist however I don’t feel it was shown enough. This isn’t just that I believe in therapy for recovery but also because I think the therapist had some of the most honest conversations with Ellen about what it means to recover. So often we want to love people to wellness and believe that we can create a world that enables people to avoid all pain and suffering. The therapist broke through this myth and instead made the lead character realize that life isn’t about avoiding pain, but learning how to face it in a healthy way.

So how do I feel about the movie? As an eating disorder therapist, I can’t say I would recommend this movie to any of my clients, I think in large part because it focuses so much on the disorder and not enough on the recovery. I don’t believe that all eating disorders have a happy ending. I want to, but I don’t. That being said, many people do fully recover and this part of the journey should be documented to do it justice. Watching this film I believe could be really triggering to people who aren’t well enough to handle the feelings it evokes in a healthy way. If you do decide to watch it, it’s a movie that needs to be talked about with someone who really understands the disorder so you can separate out your story from the movie’s and also so you can ensure your own well-being after you have finished viewing it.

Have you watched the movie? How did you feel about it? Let me know by sending me an email or writing in the comment section below

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