Eating disorders are one of the most sensitive topics to cover on screen, along with mental illness and trauma. The criticism for films and shows that cover these topics can quickly turn negative.
The portrayal of anorexia in Netflix’s To the Bone is no exception. In addition to being a topic that breaches the comfort levels of some viewers, eating disorders can be seen as a sort of mystery for viewers who have not been exposed to them. In this way, To the Bone can be a form of insight to the kinds of experiences a person facing anorexia may have. This film opens the door for dialogue and in this way can be a useful resource.
To the Bone: An Overview
To the Bone depicts a young woman battling anorexia in a residential treatment program. The film’s main protagonist, Ellen, is a college dropout in a broken home. Her own mother has recently left her to move to another state, leaving Ellen feeling a lack of family support. Throughout the film, Ellen’s treatment fluctuates, and she attempts to abandon the facility altogether. Toward the end of the story, it is her own mother who convinces her to give treatment another try in the hope of rebuilding their damaged relationship.
A Depiction of Eating Disorders
To the Bone examines anorexia as the experience of the main character, which illustrates to the audience the realities of the disease. This can help the conversation as audiences come to understand the experiences of a person with an eating disorder.
The movie does not shrink from pointing out how bad things happen to bodies that are deprived of what they need to run. The suffering of the character Ellen not only illustrates the reality of anorexia, but also implies the benefits of having a good residential treatment program and peers within a support system. The reality that recovery has its ups and downs, but must be met with commitment for success, is a mentality that can empower patients fighting the same illness.
Insights From the Film
After seeing To the Bone, many people can have a better understanding of eating disorders. Not only will they understand what treatment may be like and the struggles that patients endure, but they can also get a glimpse into why and how these conditions arise. The causes may be different for everyone, but Ellen’s story is not rare.
As a pleasant surprise, it is her own mother who convinces her to give treatment another try in the hope of rebuilding their damaged relationship. During Ellen’s time in treatment, the other people in the program are also suffering and Ellen is tremendously affected by their trials and in the ways they interact with her.
Each of them must commit to treatment values in order to successfully manage their condition, yet the struggle for progress is fraught with ups and downs. This mirrors the experience that many sufferers have in real life.
If you or someone you love is suffering from anorexia, please seek help immediately. Your loved ones and future self will thank you for making this life saving decision.