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Why the ‘To The Bone’ Trailer Reinforces a Glamorized View of Anorexia

The release of the trailer for the upcoming film, “To the Bone,” has been creating some controversy. The film isn’t simple. Lily Collins struggled with an eating disorder in real life and claims to be fully recovered now. She lost a significant amount of weight for the role, a role that, in my opinion, didn’t require her to lose weight. The title itself, “To the Bone,” like many other parts of the trailer, continues to reinforce the dangerous stereotype that you have to look emaciated to struggle with an eating disorder. But the fact that Lily Collins says she is recovered, yet lost weight for this film, I believe reinforces the romanticized idea that someone can choose to have an eating disorder. But to clarify: mental illness is not a choice.

Not to my surprise, the media has chosen to glamorize anorexia as the gold standard of an eating disorder; portrayed by an already stereotypically beautiful, thin, white, cisgender, able-bodied woman. I am currently in recovery from anorexia, but I still constantly question why anorexia has to be the only way we portray eating disorders. There is no certain “look” to an eating disorder, so why are we continuously failing to center stories on marginalized individuals with eating disorders?

Why does it take a more culturally accepted stereotype to play a scripted role in order to engage the public in a dialogue on eating disorders? There are so many people missing from this conversation; so many stories of people who deserve to be heard and be a part of this conversation but are being left out. There needs to be a greater representation and greater diversity in order to fight for inclusive and accessible treatment for all.

The person who Lily Collins portrays is someone’s story, someone’s memoir; but this is the memoir that is told all too often and has now become the singular story. If the media continues to show a homogenized image of what someone with an eating disorder looks like: stereotypes will continue, people will not seek treatment and more lives will be lost to the mental illness with the highest death rate

The word “funny” was used as a testimonial of the film, but nothing about eating disorders is funny. While humor can be helpful at times throughout recovery, I think describing this film as “funny” makes eating disorders out to be something we can laugh about. It hurts me to think others may view a story of this illness as funny when it has caused so much pain.

With this being said, this film is not fully to blame. It is part of the larger social context where all of these things are normalized. This is a larger issue concerned with media literacy, visibility and representation. Visibility is essential, but it has to be productive. It is not true that any visibility is better than none.

To me, this movie is pointless, if not pernicious. It’s detrimental, regressive and capitalizes on society’s need for glamorized voyeurism in the media. Now, more than ever, we need to hear more stories and more voices of recovery from those who have been marginalized.

This piece was originally published on thirdwheelED.

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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Photo via Netflix YouTube channel.