Williams: “To the Bone” Tells Truth of Anorexic Lifestyle

By Brook Williams

The Netflix movie “To the Bone” reveals the realities behind eating disorders. Its light hearted attitude, dark humor and idiosyncratic characters make this film unique. Some say it’s brutally honest. Others argue it’s glorifying anorexia. Both sides of the argument have hit social media like a wrecking ball.

Some say the movie has an inappropriate representation of anorexia. They argue that the woman playing the role was too skinny and too pretty — it made the film disturbing, yet still desirable. My response to that: simply don’t watch it then.

Nowadays, people feel entitled to sharing their opinions. If there is something to raise arms about, sure enough, the young opinionated liberal on Facebook will find time in between making posters for the next protest to write an essay about the next issue in politics. So when a film about anorexia came out, everyone chose a side.

The largest argument against the movie is that it glorifies eating disorders. I think it’s safe to assume not many people crave being a sad, malnourished, anxious and low energy girl, which is who Lily Collins portrays in the film. Don’t get me wrong, I have never had an eating disorder, so I don’t understand the triggers that are supposedly present when viewing Collins’ skin and bones. But going with that, I think it would be rather obvious for one to make the decision not to view something that would activate them to act on negative behaviors.

“To the Bone” was created with the intent to display the sad truths of eating disorders. The film shows scenes of Collins with unnaturally hairy arms and back, which the doctor claims to be caused by a deprivation of fat. This concept is typically swept under the rug and not discussed. This movie is meant to make those who struggle with this mental illness feel like they’re not alone. I think it better informs people of what someone looks like on the physical side, but it also shows what it does to relationships, family and personality.

The reason Collins took the role of an anorexic girl is because of her personal struggle with the disease. Collins thought of this as an opportunity to debunk myths about eating disorders and display the truth of an anorexic lifestyle. If it takes something as simple as watching another person struggle with an eating disorder to trigger someone, then that individual should choose to not watch the movie. Also, if a movie about anorexia that displays it being a selfish and sad disorder is triggering for someone, there are far worse and more accessible ways of viewing content that romanticizes the disorder and even purposefully influences people to have it. People should invest their time and energy into protesting ProAna websites, websites that actually teach girls tricks and tips on how to be skinnier.

This movie should not be criticized for its bold display of truth. The various ways it tells each character’s story in the movie is insightful and eye opening. “To the Bone” had so much diversity in the film that it could resonate with anyone struggling with a variety of mental illnesses and eating disorders, not just anorexia. This is one of the first movies to tell a story with unique scenes that demonstrate the effects a disorder has on all aspects of the individual and the anguish it causes family and friends.

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