This post deals with eating disorders and mental illness, which may be triggering for some.
This past Tuesday, the trailer for To The Bone premiered on Youtube. The movie was shown at Sundance earlier this year and received a decent amount of praise from critics. Netflix recently picked the movie up, and it will now be released to the streaming site on July 14th. People aren’t too happy about it.
A lot of Twitter users expressed their anger about the movie, since it seems to glamorize a very serious illness in the same way that 13 Reasons Why seemed to glamorize suicide. There was a cute ~indie rock~ song playing in the background, and the shot of a *quirky* mom trying to cheer up her anorexic daughter with cake (which doesn’t work). Of course, I can understand the backlash of this trailer. There are triggering, thinspo-esque scenes with talk of calorie counting and shots of her protruding bones. This could have just been added for dramatic effect in the trailer, since they are trying to lure people into watching it. But I am going to watch it, even though I have been in recovery from anorexia for about four years now.
The trailer might be triggering to anyone who has had these issues in the past, and I DO understand that. Please, don’t watch the movie or the trailer if you are triggered by this stuff. I get it, I really do. So, yeah, I understand that a lot of people are angry about this movie because, hey, they do make a few dumb jokes in the trailer and it seems to make light of a serious disease. That’s not cool. What is cool is the idea that we are getting a movie about a disease that nearly 20 million American women have. I’m sorry, but I am a little sick of seeing movies about white guys named Chris saving the world or whatever. I want to see a story that accurately shows what it’s like to be in treatment, and how really effing hard it is.
What made me really hopeful about this movie is the fact that the story is written and directed by Marti Noxin, a screenwriter who is known for producing some of the best Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes. (I am being biased, but whatever.) When Marti was a teen, she experienced an ED herself, and this story is supposed be a loose interpretation of that. But, not only did Marti suffer from anorexia, Lily Collins, who plays the main character Ellen, has also opened up about her battle with an ED. So, I do have hope, since I know that nobody who ever went through this would ever want to paint it in an easy and playful light, since it is the complete opposite of that.
I think this movie is important, because I really think that ED representation needs to step its game up in pop culture. Sure, we’ve have Cassie from Skins, who was an ~okay~ example of an anorexic teen and the mental toll it can take on a person–she was constantly in denial of her disorder, which is common among anorexics. But then there was that one episode of Lizzie McGuire where Miranda stops eating and faints during dance practice (a traumatizing moment of my youth, for sure, but not an accurate portrayal of an eating disorder), and the one mini story arc in Degrassi where Emma battled an ED. But that story was quickly resolved in a handful of episodes. And, TBH, eating disorders aren’t like that. I just think that having a story written by a survivor and starring one gives me hope that this movie might actually be effective.
People are saying the movie is “glamorizing” eating disorders, and I get it, but I don’t necessarily agree. Anorexia and other eating disorders are diseases, and ones that never really leave you. The words “I’ve got it under control” echo throughout the trailer, which is a familiar phrase that we all say to ourselves, even when things are so obviously not in control–especially in the case of an eating disorder. Of course, eating disorders are different for everybody, and this story might not be everybody’s story, which is okay. Even if it just resonates with one person, I think that’s important. From what I’ve seen, this story resonates with me.
I have been there, sitting with an ~unconventional~ doctor who swore they can ~fix~ me, even though I thought I had it under control. If you’ve had an eating disorder, you really don’t realize how out of control you were, until you look back on it years later. Back then, I would drink large sugary drinks instead of eating actual food and my mom would call me out for looking ghostly, just as the main character’s mom in the movie does. Maybe part of me just wants to watch this movie to see how this character handled it, and learn from that, since I am still learning. And that’s okay!
Consensus: I want to see this movie. I think the trailer sucked, but I really hope that To The Bone tells an accurate story. Obviously, I haven’t seen it, and even though the trailer makes it seem like some ~dreamy~ romcom about finding love in a mental health facility, early reviews of the movie make it seem that it doesn’t play out that way, which is a good thing. As Variety says, the movie isn’t an easy one to watch, but that’s the point. Eating disorders aren’t easy. They aren’t romantic or cute. They are dangerous and very, VERY annoying. Your hair falls out, you are cold all the time, your period stops. But they DO happen. And this is why they’re something that we need to talk about more.
What do you think of this movie? Tell us in the comments!