What an anorexia survivor thinks about Netflix's To The Bone
I survived anorexia as a teenager. I spent several years trying to starve myself into a sort-of hiatus on living; a twilight state where I wasn’t able to fully participate in my own life. I spent six weeks in an eating disorders clinic in hospital, at the behest of a very stern specialist whose primary strategy seemed to be to terrify her patients into recovery. More than a decade later, I am recovered but vulnerable; my relationship with food and my body is still complicated and I suspect it always will be. That compulsion to disappear, to take up as little space in this world as possible, will always be lurking just beneath the surface of my psyche.
Watching To The Bone was confronting and uncomfortable. To see Lily Collins like that - skeletal frame, bruises on her spine from sit ups, hollowed eye sockets, protruding bones and dark circles under her eyes - was like looking at a ghoulish memory of my own. Collins has been very open about her own experience binging and purging – she wrote about it in her memoir – and she says she lost the weight for this role under the strict supervision of medical professionals and her mother (and still, I find it profoundly disturbing that she did). It seems that she was compelled to take on the role because of her own experience, hoping that she could start a much-needed conversation about eating disorders. ‘A lot of people feel it’s too taboo to talk about, yet we all know someone who’s either gone through it or knows someone who has, so it’s way more relatable than people assume,’ she said. ‘There’s never been a feature film about eating disorders before and it was a very challenging role. But I felt very strongly about doing it’.
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