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.
Coming out of a minor eating disorder relapse these last couple months, and I went to dinner with a girl who follows my blog this past week: “What made you go?” She asked. “To rehab? Did you have that moment?”
I sipped my wine: looked down at 2 tacos in front of me. Sometimes, I wanna have a big, juicy response for that question. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say.
I kinda chuckled. “I dunno if I have an answer really,” I said. “I didn’t have that moment – that big climatic scene in a movie. I didn’t have it, and sometimes I feel like I should make one up to feel relevant.”
Truth is, though: I’m not the girl Lily Collins is playing in some hyped up Netflix movie about anorexia. I’m not your dying girl on a feeding tube in a hospital.
I’m not the girl that people shook their head at in the street, and I wasn’t the girl who had a movie scene moment with an indie one-hit wonder theme.
I was just a girl with an eating disorder – and I was simply boring.
“I guess it’s that,” I said. “I was bored. I wanted a different story. Got tired of the one I was writing.”
I wasn’t dying, but what is being alive glass-eyed? Tripping over your feet? Unaffected unless it directly relates back to calories burned or food lost. Food doesn’t give you love.
Saw fields and mountains and beaches for years n’ all I thought was how long I could run them – till every calorie of food was gone.
Look at pictures and remember events in my life by what I ate, threw up, or didn’t eat. “Ah yes, that picture. I had just hidden grape leaves in my back packet. Smushed them later in the car when I sat down. Smelled rank.”
“I guess I just eventually got bored enough to ask myself ‘what else is there?’ I ended up saying. “And that was enough for me. Eating disorders are boring. People grow tired of you. You get tired of yourself; sit in the same 8-10 revolving thoughts all day. I was just … I was tired of feeling nothing.”
I wanted something else to live for. I wanted to cry again; like big ole’ tears. And laugh the most genuine of my 7 laughs (still have them). I wanted to have shit days and joyful ones – and love affairs that wouldn’t last, and anger. I wanted to go on dates and road trips n’ eat camp food because it’s there. Party till 2am or sit in a lazy river. I wanted to run around at a hot springs or laugh at a meal with girlfriends. I wanted to gossip. Dance. Try some blues moves. Read a novel. Fuck up.
I just wanted to be a person who no longer found the word ‘boring’ an acceptable meaning for a life.
A lady who lives out of a suitcase – than motionless in a box, eyes wide open – feeling nothing.
‘Cause honestly, what woulda’ been the point otherwise? I reminded myself that then: biting down into my tacos – what else is the bloody point?
You never know how much wine is a part of your life till you let it go. In 31 days, I’ve gone to a wedding, baby shower, client meeting(s), office party, bar (x3), Halloween, had bad days, good days, happy hour, meetups, brunch, a 3-hour ex “what went wrong” phone call, and multiple Friday night Netflix reruns:
And the truth is I don’t regret any of them. It’s hard to not drink, and it’s hard to eat sober in public with an eating disorder – I thought after a month my skin would look superb and my growing crows feet less rigid- but alas, neither has happened thus far. Assumed that perhaps all the clarity I ever needed about life would come as well- but looks like I’m still working on that too. The beautiful part, however, is that I feel good. I feel healthy when I run. I feel talented right now and productive and mostly, honest.
Working on my eating disorder in the most active way I’ve ever known. I’m pushing myself to be uncomfortable- truly uncomfortable- being sober at times is handling discomfort, and I’m learnin’ how to sit with it.
Got no time limit on sobriety- but for now, I’m incredibly pleased and thankful to be doing this ❤
And you’re sitting on the Renfrew community couch writing your best friend a letter when Lilly comes in and lays down beside you.
I’m bored, she mumbles- her limp hair falling in her face.
Got a book? You ask, barely looking over.
Read them all.
Wanna play a game?
God no. She makes a face. But I do wanna get drunk.
You grin. Me too.
Like stupid drunk, she says. Like blow some shit up drunk.
You put down your letter. Okay, well that escalated, you pause. But yes, I’d love a Pinot Noir.
She scoffs. You and your rich girl sorority shit. She sticks out her pinky and pretends to hold a champagne flute. Oh yes sir, she mimics. I’ll have a touch of the Rosé if you could ever be so kind.
You can’t help but smile. It’s not really like that, you know. I drink the same way you do, Lil.
Out of a bag?
You snort. Okay well no, not usually. But it’s happened.
You think back to college frat parties. Slapping the Franzia bags.
It’s all the same, you say. Everyone just trying to reach some place they can forget.
She waves her hand at this. I just mean you don’t really strike me as the type to get all that drunk.
You’d be surprised, you admit. Got myself a DWI a few years ago. Bet ya didn’t know that?
Her eyebrows raise. That’s actually pretty shocking- yeah.
Was for my parents too.
So you’re a drunk then?
No, you say. Not conventionally anyway.
Ah- more like a desperate housewife?
Something like that.
One too many glasses of wine a night?
A medicinal drunk, I’d call it. I don’t really need it; just prefer it.
A medicinal drunk. Nice, she grins lazily. I’ll use that in our next AA.
Go for it, you say. I’m taking a break from it once I’m out anyway.
From AA, she asks. Or alcohol?
Both, you say- scratching your head.
God, you think to yourself. You’re almost positive this couch has lice. You just know it.
I need to anyway, you say- trying to forget about the lice. I drink to not eat so it’s not really something I should keep doing.
She rolls her eyes. Yeah- alright then, she says- plopping her hairy legs in your lap.
You look down. Have they literally not let you shave since you got here?
3 months, she says. But yeah, we’ll see about that no alcohol thing.
What do you mean?
I’m just saying it’s hard, she pauses. I’ve been in and out of treatment more times than I can count and it’s hard to give up all your vices. You’re already dealing with your eating shit, she says. And you’re doing a good job with that- so just go with it.
And I’m not smoking, you add in smugly.
Yeah well, she pauses. Don’t get all holier than thou. She lays her head back on a pillow- her tangled headphones on her chest. I just think it’s harder than you know, to be back in the world and sober. She nestles one of the earbuds in her ear. Even if you are some yuppy bitch from Dallas, you’ll want to go out with your friends.
You smile. Thanks for the advice.
But she’s already lost in her world of Wu Tang Clan.
Leaning your head against the wall that day, you wonder if she’s right.
Your style changes. Maybe not drastically- but it will.
Roll with it.
Go through phases; experiment.
I spent 8 years in over-sized t-shirts and sweatpants. I was like a walking groupie for Iggy Azalea.
Concert t-shirts, college sweatshirts, fraternity function v-necks-
And the sweatpants. Oh, the pants. Victoria Secret black sweatpants that dragged at the feet. Seen here:
And here (CRINGE):
I loved those thigh-hiding safety nets. I wore them everywhere. Throw on a pair of Sheepskin Boots and at any given point, heat or snow, I had only 10 fingers visible on my whole body.
Hideous in retrospect. I don’t quite know what I was trying to ”pull off” other than I can remember thinking:
“Oh, you’re just chill- yo. You’re mad chill and you just don’t like dressing up.”
Truthfully, I don’t like dressing up. It doesn’t come naturally for me, but those sweatpants were not an attempt to prove my ”chill” factor, and my style has been a constant source of evolution the past year and a half.
Even when I first exited rehab, I wore leggings and big t-shirts everywhere.
“Hey,” I thought to myself. “At least I’m wearing form-fitting tights.”
That too, has since changed. My career, I imagine, has played a part; New York/Colorado as well.
But so has just simply rolling with the current of recovery.
I’m still figuring out what I like; what feels flattering to my body. My friends joke, but I feel like at 26 I’m a pubescent teen in terms of figuring out what my “style” actually is.
It often depends on the stage of recovery I’m in that day.
This summer, I’m attempting to wear shorts again and it’s a struggle. I’ve got cut-off, ratty denim shorts, black linen Gap shorts, knee-length cargo shorts- the options are endless and I still can’t decide.
I haven’t worn shorts since my anorexia days so I’m feeling around blindly in the dark.
On another hand, I banned dresses at the end of last year in an attempt to “define” my style, but as the days reach 90-degrees I’m finding that all I yearn for a bit of a breeze on the thighs.
Even in gym clothes – I no longer wear baggy t-shirts to work out in, but still sometimes find myself running in leggings when the weather calls for shorts.
One day, I’ll wear a bikini and rock my version of a ”screw it” attitude – but other days, I’ll feel more self-conscious and wear black-on-black-on-black.
It’s fluid- just as recovery is fluid- and I’m realizing no clothing is “off limits” as I once believed, which has opened up doors and windows.
Your waist isn’t too short, your legs aren’t too chubby, your arms aren’t too skinny. Your chest isn’t too flat.
And, hey, if pant suits are what you enjoy, then rock ’em-
2.) Battlefield Wounds:
Consequences are consequences.
And straight up, my feet are foul.
Running ruined my feet. Not just because I’ve never been a fan of spending money on pedicures, but because I didn’t tend to them in the prime of my exercise addiction.
So wrapped up in clocking miles and burning calories, I ignored the hang nails, and the blood blisters. I scoffed at the calluses and the ingrown nail.
“The price you pay,” I reasoned.
Binge-eating, Bulimia, Anorexia – those choices affect your body outward and inward. Fluctuating weight over the years has left stretch-marks on my thighs (as seen above).
There are great social media campaigns going on right now over stretch-marks and thighs. #ThighReading on Twitter. Check it out; it’s comforting (and you can see my blistery little feet)
As I continue on this journey of self-love, I’m realizing even the nail beds of your feet are yours to protect.
I used to run on stress fractures and shin splints. At some point, I was told I had bones of a 70-year old.
What’s beautiful, however, is that often your body is resilient, and wants to fight for you.
I ran last night in Central Park and at some point it dawned on me how strong I felt- gliding up and down the path.
Nothing hurt- and as T-Swift “Bad Blood” kept me revved up, I ran 3 miles appreciating what it feels like to be healthy.
Accept that you’ve put your body through hell- in whatever way ”hell” is to you- and be gentle in the recovery of it.