Author: Paige S.
To the Bone was very, very accurate about one thing. The ending. Ellen, the main character played by Lily Collins, goes back to her treatment center after leaving the first time with a new mentality towards recovery. No one can make you recover, no matter what doctor you see, how many treatment centers you go to; if you’re not ready to let go of the eating disorder, it will not let go of you. With that being said, I wanted to put together a list of things To the Bone did get right.
1. Calorie obsession, knowledge and preoccupation. Ellen and her sister in the movie said she had “calorie Aspergers” because she knew the calories to the T in everything. When I was deep into my Anorexia, I experienced the same thing (unfortunately, I still do). I know the calories in anything and everything. It’s something that becomes engrained into your mind, and there is no escape.
2. The Scale (aka. everyone’s “worst enemy”). To the Bone had scenes where it portrayed patients becoming upset after gaining weight or having increased anxiety when it was that time to step onto the scale. I used to have panic attacks because I was so scared to see if I had gained weight. It was a very confusing time for me because I knew I needed to gain weight to be healthy again, but I also wanted to stay emaciated because my Anorexia was my “best friend”, the only thing that made me “feel good about myself”…sick.
3. The weird bottle feeding scene…awkward…however it did have some truth to it. When you’re that physically and mentally ill, you are incapable of feeding yourself. There was no way in hell I would have ever ate a slice of pizza if I was not forced to eat it. My treatment program followed FBT, Family Based Treatment or the Maudsley Method. Through this approach, my parents took back the control of what I was eating and how much I was eating from me. Instead, they chose everything for me. Sure, this approach did not feed me through a bottle, but the concept is generally the same.
4. Exercise addiction. Ellen and some other characters did whatever they could to burn some extra calories, wether it was sit-ups in bed, walking or sneaking in a jog. This is real. If I didn’t workout, my mind was tortured, and I felt like I wasn’t allowed to eat anything, or I didn’t deserve to eat anything. There were times when I was at my gym’s front door at 5:30 in the morning because I HAD to work out before my 8 AM class. If I didn’t get this one workout in, I would not be able to focus because all I would do is think about the treadmill and the fact that I didn’t “burn anything off yet”. During treatment, I snuck in walks alllll the time. I felt “disgusting and fat”, which was absolutely not true but I just could not see it any other way.
5. Ellen’s stepmother’s lack of understanding of how serious this disorder is. At the beginning of the movie, before Ellen left for treatment, she bought a cake shaped as a cheeseburger that said “eat up Ellen” on it. Not only is this triggering, but also it is extremely insensitive. A lot of people in today’s society are extremely uneducated on eating disorders and what to say and what not to say. This is a classic example.
6. On a good note, the bonds that are made with peers during treatment!!! Ellen had an unknown connection with Luke, another main character, and the other people in treatment with her. This is exactly what happened with me at my treatment program. The girls and I were always there for each other through thick and thin, no matter what. We understood each other, which was something found rarely in our own personal lives. Without the support of my peers, I think recovery would have been nearly impossible.
I did enjoy To the Bone, BUT I am well enough to watch it and NOT be triggered by it. Sure I felt tons of emotions while watching it because of all the memories it brought back, but for someone who is still struggling, watching this film could possibly set him or her back further. I recommend everyone give this film a watch because it is definitely worth the two hours. Just remember this IS A MOVIE and what you see may not be true for everyone.