I thought long and hard about what my first review should be on. These days I’ve gravitated towards books, movies, and series that touched on serious subjects and left the user to think about a few things. To the Bone was a film that made you think. I watched it for the first time just a few months ago and my mind reeled long after the credits rolled onto the screen. It’s such a powerful movie and incredibly well done. I have so much to say about this movie and I’m going to try my utmost best to touch on all the points I want to touch on. I just want to be clear from the start that I didn’t simply just watch the movie and made a few notes on it. No, I went deeper than that. I didn’t just want to slap my opinion of the movie on this blog and call it a day. In the beginning, I couldn’t really put my thoughts into words. This movie stopped me in my tracks and it made me think. It took me some time to get my thoughts straight and for that I think they did a great job with the message they were trying to send with this movie.
My first action when I opened up this word document in order to write this review was to search for the movie’s IMDb details. I learned a lot while reading this page and there are a few key things I want to share on here. As usual, parts from this page will be italics. The first and natural step with this review is the summary for those who have yet to watch the movie. What I found incredibly interesting and very telling was that on the IMDb page, users had the option to write their own summary of the movie. By allowing this you could sense how others interrupted the film which I absolutely loved.
On the main page, the summary read: (1) Ellen is a 20-year-old woman struggling with anorexia nervosa. In the midst of family problems and her own fears, she is accepted into a group home run by an unusual doctor. Through the people she meets and the journey she takes, Ellen follows a path of self-discovery and acceptance that will lead her to a surprising place she never would have thought possible. Although the next two summaries by IMDb users say almost the same thing, I still want to share it. “A young woman, dealing with anorexia, meets an unconventional doctor who challenges her to face her condition and embrace life.” Written by IMDb user: fannyelisabeth. The third summary on the page is as follows: “Ellen or Eli is a 20-year-old woman suffering from anorexia nervosa. When her stepmother & absent father run out of options, they manage to get an appointment with a very successful but unorthodox doctor. When Ellie accepts the help she’s placed into a group home with other people suffering from eating disorders. Because she’s with people just like her, Ellie finds herself facing the truth of her disease. Will she find herself before it’s too late or will death come knocking faster than expected?” Written by IMDb user: Carrie DeCosta.
Why did I share all of these summaries when it’s so similar to each other? The answer is simple: even though the words were slightly different they all concentrated on one thing. The main character is suffering from a serious eating disorder, an eating disorder that could very much so steal her life, but she embarks on a journey where she challenges her condition. Before this movie, my knowledge about eating disorders was limited. I knew what society told me. Although deep down I knew this was a disease, something that you need to fight every day so you can live the life you dream of, society almost tied a neat little bow around it. What I mean with that is simple. You’re congratulated if you lose weight. You’re congratulated when you can wrap your arms around your stomach or when you can play the harp on your ribs. You’ve congratulated if your wrist is smaller than a coin. You’re beautiful if you’re skinny. You’re ugly if your body fat percentage is over a certain number. You’re begging for attention when you starve yourself or bring your food up soon after eating it. The list goes on. It’s such a sick cycle. They want your body to look certain why but they also belittle those who suffer from an eating disorder. Although I know things are slowly changing, we still have a big road ahead of us.
While exploring the IMDb page on the movie I paused when I saw this new user review. It was posted on the 14th of July 2017 by the user: satin. I feel that his words are incredibly important to read.
“When I heard about this movie I was skeptical. I am a male who has suffered from Anorexia since I was 14 (I am 25 now) and have been in 2 inpatient units during this time. I have gone from a weight that literally caused my heart to stop to one that is normal according to society and have recently graduated to become a doctor.
To The Bone starts off with an all too familiar look into the life of someone with an eating disorder in an inpatient unit. Once she is ‘let loose’ into the world she is clearly nowhere close to recovery. We get some degree of insight into her life struggling with her condition. Lily Collins is perfectly suited to this role given her eating disorder history. I am slightly concerned that this role may have set something off in her mind to trigger a relapse (if not now, then in the future), but as long as she has been able to cope I am more at ease. The attention to detail into her character’s daily life is incredible. From being able to recite calories in foods to the countless hours spent doing sit-ups in her room, I was amazed as to how accurate they wanted this movie to be. In my eyes, it was in no way an exaggeration and could be considered an under- representation as to the daily life of someone with an eating disorder. As the story progresses the tone becomes a lot more serious. It makes it quite hard to watch at times because you do feel concerned for the well being of the main character and her family. It certainly made me emotional at times because it resurfaced memories of things I put me and my family through. Again, this just highlights how eerily accurate the film portrays the condition. I could literally put names of people I met during recovery to the faces of the characters (patients, doctors, nurses, and family members included).
Aside from being concerned as to the well being of Lily Collins in this role, the other problem I had going into watching this movie was that it may glamorize eating disorders. However, after the first 10 minutes of watching it, I knew this was not the case. It felt a lot more like seeing the world through a real anorexic’s eyes. The other obvious problem I had was that this may be potentially ‘triggering’ for people with eating disorders. I still have this reservation, however, I cannot conceive any way a film like this could not have been triggering. Every person experiences an eating disorder differently and has their own personal triggers. Anything in this film could have been triggering for different reasons. What I know is that those without the condition will receive invaluable insight into the life of someone with an eating disorder. In a world where awareness for such disorders is certainly on the up, many people still think eating disorders are a ‘life choice’ and that sufferers should just eat. I hope this film makes people realize the daily struggles of sufferers and that it offers sufferers ambition to recover.”
After reading that user’s review I wanted to learn more. I will be straight with you, I’ve never really struggled with a serious eating disorder. Yes sometimes I would challenge myself and see how long I can go without eating but it never became something big. After I watched this movie, I realized how serious an eating disorder truly is. Although I can’t say I understand everything, I can see where the characters are coming from. It changed the way how I view people who suffer from the disease and my view on my own relationship with food. This movie really made me think. Before I deep dived into the internet to learn more about the disease I saw a very interesting did you know the trivia section on the IMDb page. When I watched the movie for the first time I wondered how realistic it is. How much research did they do? How close is it to the real thing? This trivia section answered those questions. The main character and the director/writer of this movie both suffered from an eating disorder in the past. Suddenly it made sense. The reason why the movie felt so real was that the driving force came from a place who understood the disease from a personal viewpoint.
This next part I want to insert was on the main page under the trivia section. The 28-year-old actress opened up about the moment in an interview with The Edit about the time she was complimented on her weight loss while filming the film. “I was leaving my apartment one day and someone I’ve known for a long time, my mom’s age, said to me, ‘Oh, wow, look at you!'” Lily said. “I tried to explain [I had lost weight for a role] and she goes, ‘No! I want to know what you’re doing, you look great!’ I got into the car with my mom and said, “That is why the problem exists.”
It’s so heartbreakingly true. At this point not only did I want to read and learn more about the disease, but I also wanted to learn what I can do to help. I wanted to learn what thoughts I had that was completely off and what I could do to change my words in order to prevent and help the disease. I wanted to learn how I can be sure to prevent this disease from those I love. I wanted to learn how I should word my sentences when it came to this. I wanted to learn how I can prevent saying the same damaging things to my own daughter one day that was said to me. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t one of the people who is adding fuel to the fire. So I dove deep into the internet.
Early on my search, an article popped up: 5 Things To the Bone Gets Rights, According to Two Survivors. This article was incredibly informative and answered some of the questions that still lingered in my mind. One of these questions was about the purpose of the movie. What did they want to achieve from this? (2) “Having struggled with anorexia and bulimia well into my 20s, I know firsthand the struggle, isolation, and shame a person feels when they are in the grips of this illness,” Noxon says in her director’s statement. “My goal with the film was not to glamorize EDs, but to serve as a conversation starter about an issue that is too often clouded by secrecy and misconceptions. I hope that by casting a little light into the darkness of this disease we can achieve greater understanding and guide people to help if they need it.” The article continued in its review with so much information. It was a different viewpoint of my own and I loved every second of it. I definitely recommend you read this article. The link will be listed at the end of this blog.
Another article that was one of the first to pop up is: Don’t watch Netflix To The Bone. I read it because I was so desperate to understand the disease and although I finished the article, my thoughts were still all over the place, I did learn something important. That with any complex mental health issues, there are so many different sides to the story. Every person that experiences this doesn’t fall into a set picture and sometimes the reason isn’t simple. It’s complex after all. The same can be said about depression, anxiety and etc. Although nothing stood out that I want to quote from this article, it’s important to read it if you’re not sure what to think after watching the movie.
I wanted to move away from other opinions and learn the technical side of the disease. The first website that popped up was the national eating disorders website. It was a very eye-opening experience. I didn’t realize how many eating disorders there is and how serious they are. The movie opened my eyes to this yes, but seeing an entire website dedicated on so many serious eating disorders…it’s shocking and heartbreaking.
The more I’m learning about this disease, the more I can connect and understand the movie. I’m not going to ever stand here and say that I understand eating disorders because I have barely scratched the service, but in the same breath, I kind of do. As someone who suffers from depression, I realize that the mind is a very complex thing. We’re all fighting our own demons. We need to be more gentle and caring with each other. We also need to educate others. For so many years the serious mental health issues were taboo to talk about, and still is, but we need to change this. We need to open the dialogue. We need to talk about the pain and those demons whispering into our ears. Finally, after weeks, I can put my thoughts into words and sentences. The truth is I still don’t know much about an eating disorder. I don’t know how to prevent it or how to help. I still have so many questions but I know now that nothing is simple. Eating disorders aren’t simple. Depression isn’t simple. Anxiety isn’t simple. We just need to be caring for those around us and learn about the disease. I’m not sure if this is helpful. One minute I think I understand the movie and I’ve straightened my thoughts and feelings on the matter and the next I’m still questioning everything. But writing that now, I realize that’s a good thing. We need to always question things. Without those questions, there isn’t a change.
The movie opened up the dialogue and for that, I would recommend the movie. Although it touches on such a serious subject and can trigger those who suffer from eating disorders, it will leave the viewer thinking and in return open up the conversation with others. In this regard, I’m finally going to watch 13 Reason Why. A series I’ve avoided since it aired as I feared I might be triggered by the suicide. Although I know the experience won’t be easy, I might learn something. It might change something. Maybe after watching the series, I would be able to take another step forward in the healing process. I also realize that mentally I need to wait a bit longer before I watch the show. And that’s the most important thing to note. If you suffer from any mental illness, you need to realize that some things are toxic for your mental health. Although I realize watching 13 Reason Why should be an eye-opening experience when it comes to suicide, I also realize that I’m in a vulnerable place in my life now and the series will do more damage than good. So I will wait. The same thing can be said for those who suffer from an eating disorder regarding this movie. Take your time with the healing process. Every journey is different.
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!
(1) To the Bone IMDb — https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5541240/ —
(2) 5 Things To the Bone Gets Rights, According to Two Survivors — https://www.instyle.com/reviews-coverage/movies/to-the-bone-netflix-review —
(3) Don’t watch Netflix To The Bone — https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/film/2017/07/to-the-bone-netflix-review-glamourises-anorexia-eating-disorders —
(4) What are Eating Disorders? — https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-are-eating-disorders —