To the Bone instantly caught everyone’s attention when Netflix released its official trailer last month. The image of an extremely thin Lily Collins got me to click the video super fast to see what was going on.
As the title suggests, it’s a movie about a young woman struggling with anorexia—a condition that both Lily and director Marti Noxon suffered from. A bold move on Netflix’s part considering that eating disorders aren’t light subjects to tackle. Then again, the streaming site has never shied away from showing controversial topics like gender equality, corporate corruption, and mental health.
Before the film officially premieres on Netflix on July 14, there are already controversies surrounding it. Mostly concerning how anorexia was glamorized and how it’ll affect viewers. If you feel wary about watching it, here are some points you should take into account before streaming To the Bone. (May this be a firm reminder that the film should have a trigger warning disclaimer.)
#1 Methods of disordered eating
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) in Canada, along with other organization, were alarmed by To the Bone’s themes. They warned that “people who might be struggling with dieting or disordered eating” might engage in dangerous methodologies to lose weight if the film shows it step-by-step. Marbella Carlos of NEDIC also told CBC News Canada that this might become similar to 13 Reasons Why’s effect on its viewers. Especially after a 23-year-old man imitated the suicide in the show. Not to mention that the number of attempted suicide cases among girls also rose.
#2 Making anorexia look fun…
The first few seconds of the trailer already shows how Lily’s character, Ellen and her friend made a game out of counting calories. It’s an upfront way to show how cautious Ellen is of what she eats, but not in a healthy way. The scene, among many, might also give the impression that anorexia is fun to do, hence normalizing it. “I think (the trailer) makes eating disorders look like kind of a fun thing to have and that it makes it look exciting and that people do it for attention,” an anorexia survivor told CBC News Canada.
#3 …and attractive
“Some sufferers say the portrayal of her character, Ellen, as beautiful, cool and well-dressed, could make eating disorders seem appealing,” The Daily Mail reported. This might prove dangerous for people who are struggling as they might think that unhealthily losing weight is the key to getting “the ideal body.”
#4 Lily Collins as a “thinspiration”
In relation to the previous point, Lily has repeatedly said that she lost a significant amount of weight the “healthy” way. This is so she won’t come back to her previous struggle with eating disorders. The result is her looking almost skeletal for the role.
Many would say it’s effective method acting. (Also see: Christian Bale in The Machinist and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club) A friend even complimented her for her thin frame, which Lily said it’s why eating disorders exist. However, should we really associate the word “healthy” with her drastic weight loss for a film about anorexia? It’s also concerning that netizens are calling Ellen their “thinspiration.”
Many are worried that To the Bone might reinforce a stereotype that eating disorders only happen to people of certain statuses and looks. There’s the fact that Lily is an attractive white woman (although there’s also a woman of color in the film who’s recovering from anorexia), and making anorexia look easy to treat if you have the means to do so. When in reality, not every person can relate to that and might give sufferers the wrong impression.
Screengrab from To the Bone
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