split screen of lily collins and marti noxon

Marti Noxon Releases Statement After Her 'To the Bone' Trailer Was Met With Criticism

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On Tuesday, Netflix released the trailer for “To the Bone,” a Netflix original movie about a young girl struggling with an eating disorder and her experience going to treatment. The movie stars Lily Collins and is based on the director, Marti Noxon’s, experience with anorexia. 

The trailer was immediately met with criticism from some in the mental health and eating disorder community, who said they felt it was triggering, and needed to include a trigger warning and resources. 

In response to the trailer’s mixed reviews, Marti Noxon published a note to Twitter addressing the discussion.

Her note reads:

Having struggled with Anorexia and Bulimia well into my 20s, I know firsthand the struggle, isolation and shame a person feels when they are in the grips of this illness. In an effort to tell this story as responsibly as we could, we spoke with other survivors and worked with Project Heal throughout the production in the hopes of being truthful in a way that wasn’t explosive. That said, it’s important to remember EDs is unique and To The Bone is just one of the millions of ED stories that could be told in the US at this very moment. My goal with the film was not to glamorize EDs, but to serve as a conversation starter about an issue that is too often clouded by secrecy and misconceptions. I hope that casting by a little light into the darkness of this disease we can achieve greater understanding and guide people to help if they need it.

The tweet was met with mixed reviews. 

Watch the trailer here: 

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the “To the Bone” trailer could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

What do you think?

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5 Books to Read in Eating Disorder Recovery

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There are so many amazing and inspiring eating disorder recovery books out there. I’ve listed one for each of the many phases I’ve experienced in recovery. Here are a few that really hit home for me and were key reads in my recovery.



1.Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer

I recommend this book if you need a kick start. Jenni’s book is the reason so many of us have given our eating disorders another identity — someone by the name of Ed. It’s a great book to read in the early phases of recovery — either when you’re in the admittance phase, or just starting down the road to healing.

2. “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

This book is helpful when you are having trouble believing your dietician. This is not necessarily deemed an “eating disorder recovery” book, but anyone who has been through treatment knows the end goal is to be able to just “eat intuitively,” which means to eat when your body tells you to eat, and what it tells you to eat. If that seems like a load of crap to you, please read this book. They describe in great detail why this way of eating actually works and will ultimately lead you to a healthy relationship with food.

3.8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder” by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb

If you’re already in recovery and need an extra boost of motivation, this book will not only help you understand how and why you developed an eating disorder, but it will also walk you step-by-step through the recovery process and offer effective tools and strategies for change and healing. If you’re ready and motivated to improve both the mental and physical components of your eating disorder, this is a great one to always have by your nightstand.

4. “Gaining” by Aimee Liu

This book digs a little emotionally deeper than Carolyn’s and Gwen’s book and will give you tremendous insight into the issues that may underlie your eating disorder. It’s not for the faint of heart though — at several points in the book, I had to put it down so I could process what it was uncovering about myself. But while it can be overwhelming at times, it is an amazingly powerful book. It’s was what inspired me to get back into horseback riding, which has been an instrumental part of my recovery.

5. “Decoding Anorexia” by Carrie Arnold

If you really want to understand why and learn a little brain science along the way, check out this book. I’m fascinated by brain science so this book really resonated with me and helped me understand how developing an eating disorder is related to genetics and explained why I did the things I did when I was sick. It doesn’t discount how our body-obsessed culture and/or a traumatic event might help fuel the disorder, but focuses on the way our brain is inherently wired and how starvation and restriction alters the way we think and actually changes the physical structure of the brain.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via MaskaRad.


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How Being Mixed-Race Affected My Body Image

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Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Growing up mixed-race (Australian-Tanzanian, to be specific) comes with a few challenges. As a light-skinned woman of color, many of the challenges I have faced are trivial, like having to explain my accent or how to pronounce my name, or ticking the Other (please specify) box when my ethnicity is not listed on forms. The biggest challenge for me, though, is belonging to two cultures — but feeling like I don’t quite fit in either.

This challenge became particularly apparent when I was 13 years old, and my family moved to Australia. I had spent most of my childhood living in Kenya and South Africa. Like any 13-year-old girl, I wanted desperately to fit in at my new school. This school felt different though. This was the “whitest” schools I had ever been to — my sister and I made up two of four African girls in the entire school. As I made efforts to fit in, I became a lot more aware of what made me different.

I noticed my curly hair, which grew outward instead of downward; everyone else had long, straight hair. I noticed my nose was wider and my lips were fuller. More than anything else, I noticed my body. I saw my chunky thighs, wide hips and big butt. Everyone else seemed to go straight down from the waist without a single curve. Compared to these other girls, I felt “fat.”

I grew up surrounded by women with hair, bodies and facial features like mine. They were not only common, but desirable. Now, those same features had made me an outcast, undesirable — and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. I received comments about my body shape, sometimes they were meant as compliments, sometimes they were not. The fact that people commented at all meant they could see I was different. I wanted to make myself smaller, less noticeable, less different.

I thought the best solution was to “whitewash” myself. I started straightening my hair on a daily basis, rarely revealing my natural curls. I started trying to lose weight. I started listening to different music and removing slang I had picked up in South Africa from my vocabulary. I tried to identify more with my “white” side in order to feel accepted, and in doing so, I became disconnected from my African heritage.

For a combination of reasons, I continued to feel like who I was and how I looked were unacceptable. Efforts to alter the way I looked —and ultimately how I felt about myself — escalated into an eating disorder that continued into my early adult life. My weight fluctuated throughout this time, but the shape of my body barely changed. I remember having moments of absolute despair as I looked in the mirror and burst into tears. I felt hopeless and resentful because I could not change my body no matter how hard I tried. I felt trapped in a body I hated.

As I’ve matured and worked towards a more positive body image in my recovery, I have recognized being different does not necessarily equate to being undesirable. I have started to long for a stronger connection to my African side, and I have started to celebrate what makes me different. Although the ghost of my eating disorder continues to follow me, the pressure to fit the “skinny” mold is subsiding.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via m-imagephotography.

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Please Stop Sharing How Lily Collins Lost Weight for 'To the Bone’

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Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Like most mental illnesses, eating disorders are difficult to understand from the outside looking in, so it’s reasonable those who’ve been there want to see a portrayal of their experiences. That seems to be the premise for Netflix’s film “To The Bone,” where actress Lily Collins plays the role of Ellen, a girl struggling with anorexia. The movie itself is based off of the experiences of director Marti Noxon, who wanted to shed light on the illness.

Collins has been pretty transparent about her own past struggles with anorexia and what it meant to play Ellen. She opened up to Refinery29 about the role, but as I read through the interview (which I’m not linking to intentionally), all I could do was cringe with disappointment. The interview questions dove immediately into how Collins prepared for the role, and landed on the question everyone was really wondering, “How did you lose the weight?”

Collins said that throughout her preparation and the filming of the movie, she was carefully monitored by coworkers and a team of doctors and dietitians; explaining she lost weight in a “healthy way.”

As someone who has lived through an eating disorder, I think attaching the word “healthy” to how she obtained the thin-frame of Ellen is detrimental to those struggling, those in recovery, those who have never struggled and those who are susceptible to the messages that can aid in the development of eating disorders.

In addition, the interview included details of what “kinds” of foods she avoided, and how she lost weight while maintaining “enough energy” to actually fulfill the role. This information is completely inappropriate, and unnecessarily triggering to those in the midst of an eating disorder.

Please stop sharing how Lily Collins lost weight, because for those who are struggling, this portrayal could feel like an impossible standard and expectation to compare their own illness to. I so clearly remember being 18 and in treatment for the first time and believing I wasn’t “sick enough” because I didn’t look “thin” enough. But the truth is, an eating disorder affects everyone in its own awful and deceptive way. There is no “healthy way” to restrict yourself from nourishment — but conversations like this make it seem like getting to, and maintaining, a low weight is feasible. And after working and living in the eating disorder sphere, I’m pretty sure no dietician I have seen or know would endorse this.

Please stop sharing how Lily Collins lost weight, because for those in recovery, this could be incredibly confusing to their own recovery process. Just like an eating disorder is specific to each person, so too is recovery. Between the millions of messages we are bombarded with about health and weight and appearance, it can be so challenging to redefine a new version of “healthy.” It’s dangerous to imply there’s some way out there to get extremely “thin” in a “healthy way.” On top of that, no one has talked about what it meant for Collins to gain the weight that she lost back. It can be incredibly difficult to break free from the eating disorder mindset, even if you have been in recovery or recovered for years. Anorexia may present primarily as physical symptoms, but so much of it is mental, and I can’t help but be skeptical and concerned for Collins mental well-being.

Please stop sharing how Lily Collins lost weight, because for those who have never struggled, this perpetuates societies infatuation with conversations about weight and appearance. It also reinforces what it means to “be anorexic” or “become anorexic” — to restrict food intake to the point of emaciation. But what about the long list of other eating disorders that never get talked about? What about those who are struggling and don’t find a support system or a boy who “saves them”? 

Please stop sharing how Lily Collins lost weight, because there are young minds who are currently being shaped by the media. I can’t help but be concerned for the young boys and girls soaking in the messages around them. I think about the daughters, sisters, nieces, sons and nephews who I hope will grow into people who find their worth in the content of their character, not their appearance. It scares me that we are adding to the conversation in ways that could make them believe differently. By adding focus to Collins’ weight-loss, we reinforce what it means to be worthy and beautiful.

Although I am grateful that attention is being brought to an illness that is commonly misunderstood, we need to continue to remember the focus should be on bringing light to eating disorders as a mental illness, and not on losing weight. I hope that when the movie actually comes out, my hope becomes a reality. As for right now, my concern remains for the true well-being of Collins, the eating disorder community and the community at large.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Screenshot via Netflix

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Why the 'To the Bone' Trailer Feels Like the Same Eating Disorder Story We've Always Been Told

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Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

I’ve always been a chubby person.

When I was 6 and loved pasta and playing on the playground, I was a chubby person.

When I was 12 and athletic and going through puberty, I was a chubby person.

And when I was 18 and dying from an eating disorder, I was a chubby person.

I use the word “chubby” quite intentionally, because that’s what I am — I’m not fat, exactly, in the sense that fatness is a sociopolitical experience, but I’m definitely, definitely not thin. 

And because I’m not thin, no one knew I was dying from my eating disorder.

See, we have this idea of what a person with an eating disorder looks like. They are pretty and quiet and straight. They are A+ students from middle class white families with blonde streaks in their hair. They are able-bodied and cisgender. They are women. Most importantly, they are thin. Because society tells us you have to be thin to have an eating disorder. Because if you’re not thin, your eating disorder is called something else. Fitness. Hard work. Motivation. Inspiration. Self-Improvement.

When I was struggling in my worst eating disorder relapse at age 20, I was weighed at the doctor’s office on my campus. The nurse looked over my shoulder at the number on the scale and jotted in down. Then she turned to me and said, “That’s a perfect weight for you.”

I hadn’t eaten in days.

I was still chubby.

And it’s not that nurse’s fault that she didn’t know I had an eating disorder. Well, not entirely, at least. We’re given one image of a person with an eating disorder, and that person is capital “T” — Thin.

And there’s nothing wrong with being a thin person, or being a thin person with an eating disorder. But the problem is that it is often the only image we are given, and it’s not even close to being representative of the reality of every person struggling with an eating disorder. Eating disorders affect people across all intersections of society and life — yes, chubby and fat people included.

I’m going to repeat that once more for the people in the back.

Eating disorders can affect chubby and fat people.

But we don’t hear those stories. Instead, we are shown stories like “To The Bone.” The movie is being released by Netflix next month, and if your friends are anything like mine (i.e. wonderful and interested in mental health) then you may have seen the trailer on Facebook.

I’m thrilled that eating disorders in general are getting attention. Eating disorders, in my experience, remain heavily stigmatized – I work as a mental health speaker, and when I go into schools and talk about my experience with an eating disorder, I often get feedback to the tune of, “Well when you said you were going to talk about mental health, we kind of assumed you were going to talk about depression.” Lots of people don’t even realize that eating disorders are mental health issues, never mind the serious, and often life-ruining implications of them.

That being said, the stories we hear about eating disorders almost always focus on:

1. White cisgender women

2. Struggling with anorexia

3. Whose weight loss is an important part of the plot 

The “To the Bone” trailer checks all three categories. And I don’t have anything against people telling those stories, but it does feel sometimes like it’s the same eating disorder story we’re always told — the only eating disorder story we’re ever allowed to tell.

It’s hard to judge a film from the trailer, but this isn’t really about “To the Bone,” itself. It’s about the narrative we’re given over and over again about eating disorders: that you have to be extremely thin for your eating disorder to be life-threatening, which is simply not true.

The narrative around thinness and eating disorders even impacts research. Earlier this year, I attended the National Eating Disorder Information Centre’s conference in Toronto, and the repeated message I heard from people who specialize in eating disorder research was that they were pressured to prove their research could be used to prevent obesity. We live in a society that is so afraid of being fat, that to me, the philosophy seems to be, “Well, if we lose a couple of people to eating disorders, that’s a price we’re willing to pay.”

And, unfortunately, that philosophy has real world implications in the way that people with eating disorders receive treatment. If you’re a chubby person seeking treatment for an eating disorder, your experience is always under question. Are you exaggerating your disordered behaviors? Are you really that sick? Do you really need or deserve our help? The message, even if it’s not said aloud, comes through loud and clear: if you were thinner, we would believe you. If you were thinner, we would be concerned. If you were thinner, you would matter more.

I don’t begrudge anyone who loves this movie, who finds it gives them hope or peace or a sense of community. Stories should do that, and anyone who finds those things in “To The Bone,” I’m so glad. You deserve a sense of hope and community and peace.

And for the chubby people with eating disorders: I see you. I believe you. You matter.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Screenshot via Netflix YouTube channel.

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Why We Need to Stop Labeling Food as 'Good' or 'Bad'

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As someone recovering from anorexia, there’s a lot of things in today’s society that rub me the wrong way — diet fads, the constant “fat chat” that is so pervasive in society, the media glorifying thinness, etc. But one that is quite possibly the most frustrating to me — the notion of defining food as “good” or “bad.”

Even if you don’t want to categorize food that way, it’s hard to avoid it.  Most diets are based off the good/bad mentality (carbs = “bad,” protein = “good;” avocados = “good” fat, butter = “bad” fat) and it’s probably a regular part of conversations you overhear or are part of. Some people will even say they only eat “bad” foods on their “cheat” days. 

It’s also part of how food is marketed. Think of some of the words used to describe cakes, cookies and other desserts — sinful, forbidden, decadent. Now think of how they market low calorie, low carb, and/or low fat “healthy” foods — guiltless, smart, all natural. No wonder we think the way we do.

But when it comes down to it, food is just food. Food has calories, calories are fuel for the body, fuel is what keeps you running and umm… alive! Food might taste good or bad, or might make you physically feel good or bad (e.g., give you a stomach ache, gives you more energy, make you sleepy, etc.), but food itself is neither of those. And likewise, you are neither good nor bad based on what you’ve chosen to eat.

Even in recovery, I still need to remind myself of this every day.

My logical side tells me a body needs a mix of all types of food to function properly — fats, carbs, proteins, fruits/veggies, etc. The human body is amazing in its ability to adapt to keep itself alive and to maintain a genetically pre-determined set weight (news flash — it’s not the same for everyone!). Your body actually makes you crave the things it needs to function properly. If you’re on a low/no-carb “diet,” you’re going to start lusting after carbs. That’s not a weakness — it’s science. And if worse comes to worse, the body will go into “survival mode” and shut down other very important bodily functions (metabolism, menstrual cycles, brain cognition, etc.) to give you the energy you need to survive that you’re not getting through food. 

My logical side reminds me of the ridiculousness of the good food/bad food mentality in the grand scheme of things. The success of my day should be defined by the engaging conversation I had with an old friend over lunch, not what I had for lunch. It should be defined by seeing the joy in my son’s face as we’re enjoying a bowl of ice cream together, not whether said ice cream was low-fat or not.

I wish we could all work a little harder to think this way. Should be a piece of cake, right? 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via nd3000

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