Lily Collins

Trailer for 'To the Bone,' Netflix's New Movie, Met With Criticism

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On Tuesday, Netflix released a trailer for the movie, “To the Bone,” staring Lily Collins as Ellen, a woman whose struggle with an eating disorder lands her in a treatment program. The film is loosely based on the experience of its director, Marti Noxon, who dealt with anorexia herself.

Collins, who’s open about her own history with an eating disorder, said in an interview with Refinery 29 that taking on this role was a scary process:

When I got the script, it wasn’t something that I was talking about yet. It was this fear being placed right in front of me, and doing the film meant that I would have to face it head-on… It was something that I thought is risky, because there’s a fine line between facing something head-on and succeeding, or falling back into it. But I knew that, this time, I would be held accountable for it. I would be [losing weight] under the supervision of a nutritionist and surrounded by all these amazing women on set. So, I knew that I would be in a safe environment to explore this.

The trailer was met with some criticism, though. Some called it “triggering” for people who live with eating disorders. The trailer shows images of a much thinner Collins, despite media guidelines that suggest against showing “graphic images or descriptions of the bodies.” In its Responsible Media Coverage of Eating Disorder guidelines, the National Eating Disorder Association states, “Research proves that coverage dramatizing dangerous thinness can provoke a ‘race to the bottom’ among other sufferers, i.e., ‘She is thinner than I am and she’s still alive. I should lose more weight.'”

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

To prepare for the role, Collins told Refinery 29 she visited an Anorexic Anonymous group and met with the head of the LA Clinic for Eating Disorders. The movie is also partnering with Project HEAL, an organization that delivers treatment financing and recovery support for people who live with eating disorders.

Project HEAL c0-founder Liana Rosenman told The Mighty:

It’s a challenge to make a truthful movie about eating disorders that sheds light on their severity and complexity — capturing the patient and family experience of this real mental disorder — without glamorizing the disease ‘To the Bone’ tows this line beautifully. While the movie has the possibility to be triggering to some, I strongly believe that it will make a huge difference of raising public awareness of this silenced disorder.

The movie, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, will be released on Netflix July 14.

Watch the trailer below:

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.

The Mighty has reached out to Netflix for comment but has yet to hear back.

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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How I'm Redefining 'Normal' in Eating Disorder Recovery

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I think one of the strongest maintaining factors of my eating disorder has truly just been not knowing how to exist in the world without it and feeling like it is such an ingrained part of my being. It’s hard to change the way I’ve essentially programmed my brain to operate over the course of 15 years. I’m sure this is challenging for anyone in recovery, but I believe it is especially so for those who, like myself, began struggling at such an early age. I was only 10 years old when I first got sick, and during those next few formative years, during which most of my peers were figuring out who they were and forming their individual identities, I was developing a mental illness. I never had the chance to learn how to “be” in the world as a healthy, “normal” person and the eating disorder quickly enveloped everything and just became who I was.

I’ve always been so jealous of the individuals I’ve met in treatment who have only been struggling for a few years, who could talk about “getting their life back.” I don’t mean to undermine or discount their struggle, because I truly believe that any time spent with an eating disorder is too long. I’ve often felt like I would have given anything just to have that point of reference, to have a life to “go back to.” The feeling of almost not knowing what I was working towards has been one of the most difficult aspects of recovery for me. I feel like I’m beginning to establish what I want my life to look like, and that’s definitely been helpful, but it’s still a pretty foreign concept. I think for a while I felt stuck in not being able to let go of the eating disorder until I felt like I had a “full” life to replace it with, but I’m learning it can’t work that way. That instead, building my life is a process that will take time (time being healthy), and one that will take a lot of work and constant effort and awareness.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

The awareness is key. There is so much of the eating disorder that just feels so second nature that I often find myself slipping into old thought patterns or behaviors without even noticing. Little things, for example, I usually leave my apartment super early when I’m going hiking. Sometimes, as I’m eating breakfast before 6 a.m., I’ll have the thought that I’m “using up too many calories too early.” And I have to remind myself (for the millionth time) that I no longer have to ration out a certain amount over the course of the day and that the fear of “running out” of calories too early isn’t relevant to my life anymore. And I know that logically, but those thoughts still show up all the time. It’s hard to change what has been my mindset around food for so many years. It’s also just difficult to adjust to eating so much more, after so many years of starving my body and establishing these beliefs around what it “should” and “shouldn’t need.” It’s something I have to constantly catch myself on. When I have those brief moments of panic after having eaten a more calories than I’m used to before 10 a.m., I have to remind myself the amount I was eating then wouldn’t be enough to sustain the life I have now, that those calorie limits that used to dictate everything just aren’t relevant anymore. It’s hard to accept I could actually need this much. I often find myself feeling a lot of frustration with my body and its needs. While I know it’s the goal, sometimes it really scares me when I feel like my body is getting used to actually being fed. It just feels “wrong.” I’m so used to operating under the mentality of “me vs. my body,” that listening to it and actually honoring it is still such a foreign concept.

I also have to continually challenge the way I make decisions around food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll literally make it to the grocery store checkout and have to ask myself why I have foods labeled “light” and “reduced calorie” and go back and switch it out for the “normal” stuff that will actually meet my needs. It still just feels so instinctual to always gravitate towards the lowest calorie variety of whatever I’m getting, and I really do it without thinking at this point. It’s hard to know how else I would make the decisions if not based on that. I’m someone who tends to get pretty overwhelmed by decisions in general, so when trying to make them around food, (for example, when faced with lots of different kinds of sandwich, breads or cereals etc.) it simplifies the process. 

I remember when I first got out of treatment there were things I had to change like buying bigger cereal bowls that would actually fit an adequate portion or packing a lunch to bring to work. Those things feel “normal” now. And while most of the time I’m grateful that not every meal and snack is such a huge struggle, it can also just feel “wrong” because it’s so different from what my reality has always been.

Another thing I’ve been challenging myself with recently has been eating around other people. For so long back home, no one really expected me to eat and it had really just become accepted that I didn’t. If I ever did, I felt like people paid undue attention to what and how much or they would make comments that made me uncomfortable. Since I already felt a lot of shame around eating and needing food in general, I avoided it whenever possible. The sense of shame and just feeling so self-conscious eating around others is something that still comes up for me quite a bit. I have to remind myself continually, that the people I am interacting with in my life now don’t have the same expectations (or lack of) that the people in my life before did, and to them, it would probably be stranger if I didn’t eat.

The sense of shame around eating and needing food in and of itself is something I’m trying to work on. I feel like this can be especially tough in our society, given the way in which guilt and shame around eating is so normalized. But I know this isn’t what I want for myself. And that’s the cool part about all of this: I get to choose. Recovery is, essentially, deciding what I want my relationship with food and with my body to look like, and then adjusting my goals accordingly in order to move towards that. I’m learning that my “normal” doesn’t have to correspond with what I observed growing up in my family, what I’m surrounded by in my society or what I observe in my peers. I don’t want to feel guilt for eating and choosing to nourish my body or shame for inhabiting the space that I do in the world. I don’t want to feel the need to be smaller, to make myself less. That may have been my reality up until now, but I can choose to create something different moving forward.

As I wrote earlier, I know that establishing this new “normal” is something that will take time and a lot of continued work, but I’m hopeful that if I can keep making different decisions, I’ll get there. Sometimes I get discouraged when I think about the space between where I am and where I ultimately want to be, but I try to remind myself of how far I’ve already come. How just a few months ago, I never would have imagined it possible to be where I am now and I’m choosing to believe that having made it from point A to B, I’ll eventually be able get to C, too.

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 baphotte.

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The Revelation I Had While Reflecting on My Eating Disorder Recovery

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June 2nd was World Eating Disorder Action Day; a time for raising awareness, understanding and debunking the stigma. In my experience, it has been helpful for people recovering from eating disorders to look back on how far they’ve come and everything they’ve survived.

Recovery is something that looks different for everyone. Each journey is unique. This is why you should be focusing on your own progress without comparing it to anyone else’s.

I’ve reflected extensively on my journey so far, and realized I had a lot of my own misconceptions about recovery. Most of the time, I would look back to where I started and compare it to where I am today and only see the fact that I still have an eating disorder. After roughly four years of fighting anorexia nervosa, I’m still not 100 percent better — this illness is still a daily struggle. The negative self-talk and disappointment I’ve shown myself because of this often overshadowed all the accomplishments I have made over those four years. These are the very things I should be reflecting on and be proud of.

I recently had a revelation — I’ve been belittling my progress because I’m not yet fully recovered.

The truth of the matter is that I’m not where I want to be, but I’m also not where I started.

When I began my recovery from anorexia, I was very physically and mentally ill, in denial of my sickness, pushing away my family and doctors because I was afraid and I felt hopeless.

In the four years I’ve been fighting against my eating disorder; I have conquered fear foods, I have been in treatment, I have gained life-saving weight, I have advocated and raised money for an eating disorder organization, I have graduated high school and college, I have been accepted into university, I have fought additional mental illnesses and I have survived.

I haven’t fully recovered from anorexia yet, and I can’t say I’m close to full recovery, but I can tell you that I have achieved great things. I have climbed so many mental mountains to get to where I am today, and although I still have a long way to go, I should be proud of myself.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

I am proud of myself.

Success is not merely measured by reaching the finish line. It’s the seemingly small, everyday victories and the milestones along the way that will get you to full recovery. It’s the whole package that is worthy of celebration. Every feat, no matter the size, is a sign of your bravery.

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 mixformdesign

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To My Dad Who Supported Me Through Eating Disorder Recovery

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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 loved you when

you were small and hidden,

I will love you still

when you are strong.”

— “No Competition Between Flowers” by Michelle K.

Dear Daddy,

This year has not been easy for us. I’ve always been your little girl, your middle daughter, the one you saw yourself in. I know it has not been easy for you to watch me starve myself. I know you wanted more than anything for me to pick up the fork and put food into my body. Daddy, you haven’t understood, but my goodness you have tried. When I first told you I thought you might have a problem with eating, you didn’t know what to say. You shifted in the uncomfortable therapy office chair and said yes, you had noticed, yes you’d seen the weight loss. You told me we would get through this, I just needed to try and use my will power.

Daddy, I was angry. I didn’t want to use my willpower. I didn’t want to recover. I wanted to continue. I wanted to disappear. You wouldn’t let me.

Daddy, we argued. I know it broke your heart when I cried and said I would rather die than eat. I know you didn’t understand. I didn’t understand. Daddy, you didn’t always help me in the way I wanted. Sometimes, you told me to “just eat.” You said I was being rude and so many other things. I don’t fault you. You didn’t understand, but you are learning. You are asking me how to help and I don’t always know the answer.

Daddy, the first time you visited me in the hospital and said I looked “healthy,” I cried. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. In what world is “healthy” not a compliment? Daddy, we’re working on our communication. It’s not something either of us are good at. We have work to do. But, we’re getting better. Daddy, I’m trying. I’m trying to learn that food is not a moral issue and fat isn’t a failure and eating isn’t optional. I’m living again.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

Daddy, today you said my eyes looked brighter and I looked healthier and I heard what you really said. I know you didn’t mean that I looked “fat.” Daddy, when I was a child with freezing hands, you’d let me sit in your lap and you’d take my tiny hands in yours, until I was warm. Daddy, when I was a girl who cried in my bed about arguments I overheard, you’d sit next to me and talk to me until everything was better. Daddy, when I was a teen who starved herself, you learned as much as you could. You visited me in inpatient. You came to family therapy. You supported me at meals when I all I wanted to do was run. Daddy, I love you. You have given me the strength and courage to recover and I would not be where I am today without you.

Happy Father’s Day.

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 Creatas Images

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Dear Eating Disorder: I Miss You

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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 know you are already confused just by the title.

Why? How on Earth could you possibly miss something that could’ve killed you?

If you haven’t ever struggled with something like this, it may not make sense. And if it does make sense to you, my heart goes out to you because I know it’s hard. I began my eating disorder as an obese woman, so when I lost weight, I completely transformed. I lost a very large amount of weight.

By the end, I looked like a completely different person, who I’m not going to show you. It was horrible though because I wasn’t truly aware of it. I experienced such severe body dysmorphic disorder that most days I couldn’t tell I had lost weight. My brain knew I had, because of the numbers. And I could see it when I posted comparison photos, which I did constantly to social media, just for reassurance I had actually changed. But just looking in the mirror, I couldn’t see it. That’s surprisingly common for body dysmorphia.

Anyway, I’m sure this still doesn’t make sense. What exactly am I missing here? Not actually knowing what I look like? 

Well, no. I don’t miss that.

For the first time in three years, I actually know what I look like, which is pretty great. But there are other things I miss. Unfortunately, our society treats people differently based on size. You may swear up and down that it isn’t true, but it is. By default, if you lose weight, people compliment you. They admire you, and they may even be jealous. 

As someone who really never stood out — an awkward girl on the sidelines — the attention was addictive.

The rush of losing weight was also addictive.

I struggle with a perfectionist personality type, so seeing the numbers get lower and lower actually set off endorphins for me. It was the equivalent of drugs, a rush of euphoria.

I had orthorexia, and unfortunately, it also tricked me into thinking I was superior with my food choices.

My disorder led me to believe I was morally a better person for starving myself. I look back at me then, and kind of want to smack myself in the face. I even got as far as trying to educate others on my food choices, because people asked me to. I had no place doing that. I’m so ashamed of it, but I can’t exactly take it back now. It’s an illness. I really wasn’t completely in control of my actions. Orthorexia controlled everything. 

But there are things to be missed, right? 

I miss not getting the glances in public because people do look at you differently when you are overweight.

I miss being able to blend in. 

The catalyst for stopping my disorder was a pregnancy. Once I became pregnant, I knew I could not continue what I was doing, so I was able to stop. But I also ended up having from life-threatening complications, which were not related to my eating disorder. Those complications caused me to gain a lot of extra weight, which ultimately saved both my daughter’s life and mine. But some people can’t see that or don’t see it that way. There are people who think I “threw away the body I worked so hard for.” There are people who believe I’ll someday get it back. 

I don’t really plan to — most certainly not in the way I achieved it. I didn’t look sick, but I was sick. I was very sick. I was afraid of sugar, afraid of carbohydrates. I avoided social engagements because other people’s food or restaurant food wasn’t “clean” enough. 

So while I do think I miss some of the attention, I realize it’s because of warped societal standards. 

I also realize that the disorder still lives inside me. It hasn’t been so long, not really. It’s there. I ignore it most days. I go to therapy, I work hard not to rank certain foods above others. I unfollowed all the harmful “fitspo” and “clean eating” nonsense.

But it’s still in there.

And while it may try to trick me into missing it, while it may try to guilt trip me into giving it another chance, I won’t. I’ll keep shoving it away and putting in earplugs until eventually, I won’t hear its screams anymore.

Because I don’t actually miss it. 

I don’t.

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 Rively

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4 Things I Want the Diet Industry to Know as Someone in Eating Disorder Recovery

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It was a sunny Friday San Francisco afternoon. I was enjoying conversing with a new colleague over some hummus and pita. But suddenly, the conversation — and my mood — took an abrupt turn. He asked me if I had heard of, let’s call it “The Non-Diet Diet.”

“Is it a diet?” I asked.

“No!” He said cheerfully. “It’s more of an eating plan. You don’t eat sugar and other things. I don’t know much about it… It’s healthy.”

“It sounds like a diet.”

“No! It’s not a diet!” He insisted.

At this point, I had had enough. I stood up, pushed in my chair and said, “I don’t follow diets, so I am really not the right person to ask.”

The reality is that I have had an eating disorder for most of post-pubescent life. Today, I am in recovery and doing well. Yet like everyone else — particularly young 20-something women — I am bombarded with chatter from friends, loved ones and co-workers about diets, non-diet diets, eating plans, fitness challenges, exercise plans, etc.

Until that Friday, I had always ignored the chatter. At this point in my recovery, my healthy voice sounds the alarm that this is not a conversation I want to listen to, nor is it a topic I want to debate. So I put on my headphones or just run away.

But the evening after this conversation, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up at 2 a.m. and I had this strange urge to check out the Non-Diet Diet’s website. The self-care alarms were sounding. They screamed, What would your therapist think? What if you find something triggering? You are happier and healthier than ever. Why risk it?!

Armed with knowledge, I waded forward cautiously. And what I saw infuriated me. I have never been this pissed off at 2 a.m.

As a result, I am not hiding anymore. I engaging for the first time with this letter to the diet industry.

Dear Diet Industry,

1. As you have promised, diets have changed my life…. but, for the worse.

Here’s how. You have told me what to eat. Day by day, my performance on the diet shapes my mood. It may work for a week, 10 days, a month. But eventually, something happens, or my perception of things shifts and suddenly, I have failed. I’ve created a massive, internal mess. And while my life may be objectively great, my mind and mood are in the trenches. They can only be rescued by success on another diet.

And suddenly my life — the life of a well-educated, smart, beautiful young woman — can only be rescued by the arbitrary rules I saw on some website.

2. You have no right to label my food with words like “junk,” “good,” “bad” and “terrible.”

My food is my business. How I describe my food is only my business. Similarly, I have no right to judge someone else’s food choices. The same goes for you, Diet Industry.

3. You have no right to label me “unmotivated” and “weak.”

You do not know me. You have no right to tell me I should be able to stick to your diet because it is “not that hard.” You have absolutely no right to tell me I am “flawed” and “unmotivated” because I cannot stick to your rules.

I have done many things in my life that prove otherwise. I moved across the country, and back again. I have confessed my love to many men and have been rejected. I moved to cities where I knew no one — thrice. I have introduced myself to strangers. Gone to social engagements I didn’t want to go to, and had a blast. Spoken publicly. Written poetry. Hiked out of the Grand Canyon — twice. Gone swimming with sharks. Been in love. And made major strides in my eating disorder recovery.

You cannot tell me I am flawed. I know I am not perfect, but I am not supposed to be — after all, I am human.

You, Diet Industry, are the one with the issues.

4. I know you are just people too.

Behind every company — including the diet industry — is just a bunch of people trying to make a living and maybe even get famous with a top-selling cookbook. I am not against this. We all gotta make a living.

However, no industry is better at taking control of wonderfully imperfect humans and diagnosing them with the wrong problem — a “too much junk food” problem, a “fat” problem, etc. — when the food is probably a symptom of something much deeper, as it was for me.

The path you advertise is so restrictive — of food, of fun, of life — that I don’t see how possibly, if I could make it through your diet, that I would want that version of health supposedly waiting for me on the other side.

Lastly, I have a few words about my least-favorite adjective: “healthy.”

There seems to be one word in English that defines a person in good health, or a food that promotes health, and it is “healthy.” However, from what I have observed, healthiness is extremely subjective. For some people, multigrain bread is healthier than white bread, and therefore healthy. I have been called “healthy” because I brought carrot cake to work instead of chocolate cake. Yet most diets would shun these foods.

So if opinions vary on what is “healthy,” what is it supposed to mean?

I have responded by putting a moratorium on using the word “healthy” in my life. Instead, I’ve called upon one the Russian language’s words (yes, according to my translator, there are 9) жизнеспособный ( zhiz-ne-spa-sob-nee), which literally means “capable of supporting life.” I love this word. Life is messy and you need food, just as you need a solid support system, to get you through the bad times and be with you in the good.

That’s the philosophy I have come to love. I only hope you, Diet Industry, can learn something from it too.

Warmly,
Erica

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 Maltiase.

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