(A Netflix film, ‘To The Bone’ deals with anorexia nervosa, a life threatening eating disorder characterised by self starvation and extreme weight loss. Zoya Singh who has battled anorexia reviews the film.)
It is a riveting and moving performance by actor Lily Collins on a story and reality that is so close to hers as well as Marti Nixon’s, the director of the film To The Bone. The two women come together to deliver an unfiltered harsh reality of anorexia nervosa, which helplessly takes over one’s life, with results that can be fatal.
It is mighty brave of Marti to touch upon a disease that affects not just women, but so many men across the world.
The film serves as an eye-opener for everybody to understand, be educated and accept those who battle with an eating disorder.
The story revolves around a young 20-year-old woman who has spent a large part of her teen years moving from one treatment centre to another. She is finally taken to meet Dr Beckham, an upfront therapist who has a unique approach to treating a disease that is a serious mental health disorder.
Dr Beckham’s (Keanu Reeves) approach involves putting a group of young people who suffer from anorexia, binge/overeating and bulimia in a home setting. They all suffer from eating disorders that stem not from food, but come from a place of lack of self love/appreciation.
For those who have never experienced the debilitating effects of an eating disorder, scenes in the movie can be uncomfortable to watch ― and that’s exactly the point. To The Bone intends to make viewers see that eating disorders are dangerous illnesses that deserve to be taken seriously, and not something people can just “get over” by consuming a meal.
As the story unfolds, Ellen (Collins) goes through family therapy, which has a major effect on her. Struggling with feelings of abandonment inflicted by her bipolar lesbian mother and an absentee father, Ellen battles her loneliness and anger by controlling her food and the damage she can inflict to her body - if not her life.
A Personal Struggle
For me personally, the film evoked an emotional response. I’ve battled both anorexia and bulimia in the past. It started with food intolerance and discomfort at a young age, leading to bulimia at 17 until 20, when I felt unhappy and found comfort in throwing up. That feeling gave me a high, much like any other addiction.
Anorexia is widely confused with dieting and has very little to do with food, but to do with one’s mental state. It is a lifelong and fatal disease if not looked into seriously and treated with care. With the support of my family, counseling and finding happiness within, I was able to find my path and cure myself. Sadly, Indian doctors have very little knowledge about this and tend to over medicate patients instead of counseling.
A Refreshing Approach
Dr Bekcham’s approach in the film and bringing of other patients together to build a community is a great way of sharing, accepting and getting over the illness believed to be the most difficult to treat.
I admire Martis’ take on the plight of those who suffer from an eating disorder. Without any layers, the raw reality of what it does to the patient is laid bare.
We live in the world of perfection and beauty, indulgence and social media but when it comes to depression, anxiety and suffering, we choose to live in denial and ignorance. Hopefully, this film can inspire others to cover mental health without hyping it.
Be kind to others, show compassion and turn your sensitivity into strength. My family’s love and support helped me in my recovery. I now run a programme for addicts suffering from eating disorders.
Do watch the film and share the love.
(Zoya Singh runs a fashion blog with her twin ‘The Terrible Twos.’ Contact her at email@example.com to take part in her recovery programme.)
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