I’ve been waiting for To The Bone, Netflix’s latest film, since I watched the trailer back in June. Directed by Marti Noxon and starring Lily Collins – both survivors of eating disorders – the film is funny, frank and achingly realistic.
With so much of the media fetishizing weight loss, regardless of how it’s done, it’s a relief to watch a film that tells people to look after themselves.
The film has received tons of backlash about being triggering, but as someone who has had an ED, I have to say the opposite. I think To The Bone is harsh, but necessary.
When I saw the character gripping her arm to measure how big it was, I thought back to high school, where I used to do the same thing with my thighs. It was a surreal experience to identify with a character so thoroughly, but to also know I’d survived the same experience. I’d been in that dark place and crawled my way out, something I wish all people suffering from EDs could achieve.
Lily Collins – who I think is absolutely gorgeous – looks haggard, and her character is far from glamorous or beautiful. One of the rare cases of a film not bothering with attractiveness and instead showing how anorexia can affect even the most beautiful actress.
Lily Collins’ physical change is heartbreaking. You aren’t envious, no, you’re scared and worried for her. She looks like a walking skeleton and it isn’t beautiful.
The film shows the strange shapes of her too-thin body. The way her hips jut out, the way her cheekbones are sunken and hollow, the way her spine sticks out of her back. Her nails are purple, her body hair increasing and she can’t remember the last time she got her period. They even nailed the fact that she’s cold all the time.
The character herself doesn’t think she’s beautiful, and says it repeatedly. Showing how EDs are more than just a shallow attempt to look pretty, it’s so much more. It’s a disease that affects your mind and makes you turn against your own body.
The film shows how your ED doesn’t only affect your life, but the lives of everyone around you. Whether it’s your friends, family or strangers on the internet.
To The Bone has characters with a variety of EDs. The main character has anorexia, another has bulimia nervosa and another binges. That’s right, there’s more to an eating disorder than starving yourself.
During one of the main character’s first meetings at her new in-patient home, one of the counselors says an eerily true statement, “It’s not about ‘thin’ enough… What you crave is the numbing of the thing you don’t want to feel.”
The sentence made my eyes tear up because it was so true. When I was struggling with eating, it wasn’t that I cared about being thinner, it’s that I was in constant competition with myself. How many hours can I go without eating today? How many days? And so on.
At the end of the film, I had the strangest realization. I’ve gained 50 pounds since I was my thinnest, and not only am I physically healthier, but mentally and emotionally as well. I’m the happiest and heaviest I’ve been, and I’m going to keep eating whatever makes me feel good. No matter what society tells me to look like.