I would like to get one thing straight – although anorexia is very commonly associated with an uncontrollable urge to be thin and those suffering with this illness, are in fact, terrified of gaining weight, I would like to highlight a particular word in what I’ve just written. That is: Control.
Anorexia is not all about fearing weight gain and seeing oneself as fat therefore they starve themselves to the point of death. Many cases are about control or more so, a lack of it, so that when a person begins this dangerous slippery slope, they start grasping at straws to take control of their lives which, in some extreme cases can cause this eating disorder.
I sat down with very skeptical thoughts about To the Bone and I was worried, like some, that the Netflix premier was going to focus on this undeniable need to be thin and thus, starving oneself becomes the only option.
However it blew me away with the differences between characters and the background of their challenges. Lily Collins was an award winning performer throughout the 147 minute screening. Watching from the perspective of an outsider, one with knowledge and a close relationship to anorexia, I found myself relating to the underrated character of Ellen’s step sister. Although Collins carried the film, I would like to take the time to really focus and praise the character of Kelly. That, to me, was a real portrayal of the emotional and physical turmoil of knowing, loving and wanting to support someone with the illness. The absent father was a nice touch but the moms (all three of them) really pissed me off.
Anorexia, Bulimia and other eating disorders destroy a person in more ways than one, and it destroys so many families too. The concept of eating disorders do need to be mainstreamed and spotlighted to help millions of men and women who suffer. Although I could go on and on about it, there’s really only one thing I can say; To the Bone was an exceptional recreation of the heartache and pain and destructive nature of eating disorders and it did it in a way that wasn’t glamorous. The ending where Eli is looking down at the skeleton she had become was a powerful scene that I hope, many will come to see the reality that these types of disorders can cause.
Although the family dynamics were one of my main issues, no doubt there are many people who deal with these issues. I will still praise the powerful and extremely emotional scene between Eli and Judy. I think the bravery and courage of a biological parent expressing to their child that they accept they want to die, was absolutely incredible. It was hard hitting and I really hope that scene is one that stands out.
I obviously have no idea what it is like to live in the mindset of someone battling this illness, but I have experienced it second hand. It’s horrifying to think that some people strive to be what society deems perfect; or even that belittling those with mental illnesses is still acceptable. It isn’t. Society as a whole need to open their eyes and see the destructive nature of what it is inflicting on others.
Therefore I would like to praise Lily Collins on her bravery. I’d like to give a special thanks to Netflix for opening our eyes to the dangers and damaging effects society can have on the world. But most of all, I want to praise everyone who has or is dealing with mental health issues. You are brave. You are bold and you are strong.
All personal opinions on the movie and on the illnesses themselves are my own.
I would also like to point out that although To the Bone is one of a few documentations of what it is like suffering with an eating disorder, there is also an extremely heart-wrenching emotionally raw book that details the live of an individual that gripped me when I was studying my A Levels. Thin is a heartbreakingly inspiring memory of Grace Bowman as she battles with anorexia.