this is how you make tv about anorexia

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Anorexia is a notoriously difficult subject for TV, movies, books and songs to get right. It is the deadliest mental illness – 20 per cent of sufferers die prematurely because of their condition – and yet, we struggle to make decent, responsible pop culture about it.

As an anorexia survivor myself, someone who has tried to make themselves vanish, I wish we could tell our stories more easily, I wish we could make people see what it’s really like to kill yourself slowly by starvation. But it’s difficult, because if you show what it really is to have anorexia, you risk educating vulnerable people on how to do it.

Anorexia contagion is a very serious, very real thing. Take the Netflix film To The Bone, which starred an emaciated Lily Collins earlier this year, as an example of how not to make a movie about anorexia. Despite the creator’s noble intentions – Marti Noxon is a survivor herself and no doubt simply wanted to raise awareness of an elusive, maligned illness – the film was a dangerous tutorial on how to lose weight, resist treatment and deceive the people you love. It, like so many pop culture incarnations before it, fell into the trap of glamourising an illness that, in actual fact, is just plainly harrowing.

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