Is Netflix’s ‘To The Bone’ Triggering? Spoiler Alert: Yes, But Life Is Triggering

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Been seeing this Netflix movie ‘To The Bone’ anorexia debate flood my social media feed + inbox the past couple weeks, so I watched it yesterday and thought I’d type up a few thoughts.

I liked it.

As unpopular of an opinion as this might be for some, it’s easy to shit on eating disorder movies because there’s so many reasons why they occur. Not all can be covered in 2 hours. What I will say, though, is that I felt. And I appreciated the following attempts:

  • They cast a lead male with an eating disorder in treatment. This would not have been done 10 years ago. Thank you.
  •  Predominately showcased Caucasian females, yes, but they cast at least two minorities (one who identifies with LGBT) as leads with an ED. Thank you.
  • While I would’ve preferred better dialogue on ‘drunkorexia’ or exercise addiction outside of sit ups, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they cast a pregnant girl dealing with pregorexia, a binge eater, and showcased ‘chewing and spitting’. Thank you.
  • Miscarriage scene. Horrifying. It happens. Thank you.
  • They included reference to social media pro-anorexia sites. More people need to understand that they exist in masses, and their kids could be on them. Thank you.
  • ”Calorie Aspergers” may not be PC, but if you have a type of anorexia, you know what they’re talking about. Thank you.
  • They inserted a frustrated sister. Cliche, sure. But, many of us have heard the same from members of our family or friends. Thank you.
  • The movie depicts insurance issues. And the recidivism rate of eating disorders + treatment. Thank you.
  • They showed a group of family members fighting over what to do. Scared. Selfish. Tired of her. Feeling like they did this to their child. Tis’ life. It’s not true. But yes, it’s relatable. Thank you.
  • They exposed manipulations with food. The diet cokes. The smoking. Laxatives. The bags under beds, the sit ups, the arm ring, the cutting off of bread from the fried chicken. Sure, there’s plenty more they could’ve done, but it’s a movie and there isn’t time. Thank you.
  • The stubbornness of these disorders. The habits we create and repeat time and time again. The locked circle. Thank you.

This movie is triggering without a doubt. But, if you’re watching it with an eating disorder – you knew it would be. Life is triggering. Existing is triggering.

I disagree that this movie glamorizes as a whole (I mean, c’mon, that miscarriage scene is anything but glamorizing), but yes, I too could’ve done without the Lily Collins half-nude doctor visits displaying anorexia for audience appeal. It was clear the shock value intention behind that director choice, but hey – if shock is what the average citizen needs to be invested in the fact that Anorexia and eating disorders are a real deal – then fine.

There’s things to question in this movie, but I think that should be assumed with a sickness so vast. It’s baffling that there’s so little supervision in many of these scenes, such as when they eat around the dining room table. Apparently no room searches and a make out scene? But, I saw make outs in my own treatment center. So. What I took from it is that people are lonely. They want to be touched and loved. I could relate.

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) hit the nail on the head when they said it was an oversight to not include better information at the end on where people can turn to for help. That was a poor choice.

The ending is cliche, of course. But, I mean, of course. What’s true, though, is that we can f up and go back. F up and try again. We have illnesses, those of us with eating disorders, but we can live in spite of them.

This movie attempted to showcase stereotypes otherwise overlooked. Did it do a pure job? Hell no. It’s too hard to accurately or with the appropriate amount of depth showcase the intensity of all eating disorder experiences. However, the intent was clear and I respect that.

We don’t know if she got better at the end of this movie. But, we know she tried. Thanks for that to the women behind this movie. Because I don’t know what good it would’ve done to show that she didn’t. All in all, thanks for doing the best you could on a subject that is intensely multi-faceted. Project HEAL

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