To the bone struck a chord even with me… and i’m a woman without ED
Netflix’s To the Bone is probably one of the most controversial and talked about movies of the summer. Without a doubt. Some may argue that through the subject that is portrayed (one woman’s treatment for anorexia) the movie glamorizes the disease, while on the other side of the spectrum some say that it’s portrayed as an honest and insightful look at one woman’s struggles with anorexia nervosa.
And while I’ve seen many other movies on the similar subject (some of them good and some of them bad) To the bone proves 2 things I think are relevant with these particular movies. The movies that portray anorexia stricken characters. 1. You really can’t win in proving either of the sides and 2. it can struck a chord even with those people who haven’t been through the hell that is an eating disorder. Like me.
I personally have never battled with any type of eating disorder, nor i have had friends who did or family for that matter. I’ve battled addictions but that’s a whole other topic. ED is luckily an uncharted territory for me.
But I have to admit, even now… several days after watching To the bone, the movie is really stuck with me. There are some scenes, some lines and some images I cannot get out of my head as much as I try, and they are the motive that prompted this writing.
First of all, you can plainly see that it’s made by someone who’s gone through ED and clearly that shows in the final product. Secondly I think Lilly Collins was wonderful in the role of Ellen and I must give a round of applause to the writer Marti Noxon for making the movie more about the recovery process, and not about the disease, the social stigma, the health ramifications or even the main character’s family in the process. Yes they are there but I’m glad that it’s one man’s journey in To the bone. As it is in any form psychiatric disease. Doctors are there to be the training wheels, but it’s on you to ride the bike. Solo.
Thirdly (if you’re counting) I’m glad that in the inpatient’s house there is a male character. Clearly a sign that not just girls and women suffer from ED, because boys and even grown men can easily be affected too. Sure there are several types of ED (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating) but I’d hoped to see more African American characters there. Kendra (Lindsey McDowell) one of the patients in DR. Beckham’s (Keanu Reeves) house was not enough. She barely has any screen time and probably 10-15 lines in the entire movie.
But let me tell you why this movie struck a chord further more. That feeling was in the smallest things actually. For instance in the line that Ellen’s baby sister says to her:
If you die…. I’ll kill you…
And in Ellen’s replies to her…
I’ve got it under control.
You see, denial is a powerful tool. It can make you believe in all kinds of things. Especially if you’re young. Like Ellen I also thought I was immortal. I was in control. I was owning it. Except I wasn’t and the if you die… I’ll kill you… line was something I got from my friend too. So I know that part all too well.
I also know about the family’s struggles and worries. I remember the talks that turned into fights, that turned into ultimatums, and like Ellen I refused help. Which brings me to the scene with Ellen and her mother in Phoenix. Probably the most powerful scene in the whole movie. My mother didn’t fed me with a baby bottle, like Ellen’s mother did with her, but I remember being a grown woman and sitting in my mom’s lap. She was rocking me and comforting me, just like any great mom does with her baby. Except I was a 27 year old miserable and depressed baby.
To the bone is a great movie. How can i tell? Well it touched something in me, even dough i can’t relate to the characters in the movie. Which only great movies can do and i personally loved this one.