Netflix's new film "To the Bone" is stirring up controversy about its portrayal of eating disorders. Experts in the field, though, think it's starting an important conversation.
Actress Lily Collins plays the main character, Ellen, who suffers from Anorexia Nervosa. The movie shows her journey to recovery, from finally facing her inner demons and confronting her condition, to receiving the help she needs and embracing life.
Not everyone is happy with the portrayal of this mental illness, though, including many concerned parents and even some who are in the same boat at the character Ellen.
The main concern is that "To the Bone" could be triggering to those in a sensitive mental state.
But, Robyn Cruze, a National Recovery Advocate at the Eating Recovery Center, says the trouble with this idea is that those who are struggling can be triggered by almost anything.
"They are triggered walking down the street, they're triggered at the beach, they are triggered walking into a restaurant," says Cruze, "they're triggered when someone says something and so we can't prevent people from being triggered."
She believes that this movie is a great platform to start a conversation about eat disorders and the very real possibility of recovery.
"I think that's really the foundation, that recovery is possible, that's what the movie is saying," Cruze says, "get through recovery, you're in charge, you did not choose to have an eating disorder, but you can choose to have recovery and there is a better life."
Parents who are concerned about their children watching the film may want to use it as a conversation starter. How does the main character's struggles make them feel? How do they feel about their own body? These questions help parents become a part of the solution.
Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness in adolescents after asthma and obesity. It also has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Because of these statistics, the Eating Recovery Center is entirely dedicated to treating every type of eating disorder in every stage.
"They don't all look like the main character in "To the Bone," says Cruze, "it is very important to remember they come in all shapes and sizes, of all ages, and recovery is so very possible."
Many have already expressed their dislike of the film, and many more will in the future, but Cruze would like people to use their voice if this is the case.
"Use your voice to vocalize it, what is it that you want people to know about eating disorders, what do you want them to know about recovery," says Cruze, "use this platform to give voice to that and bring awareness to that and a be a part of the solution."
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder here are a few resources:
Find a treatment center in Denver:
- Eating Recovery Center Denver (1-877-711-1690)
- Denver Health's ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders (1-844-649-8844)
Find a treatment center near you:
- Eating Recovery Center (1-877-711-1690)
For more information:
- National Eating Disorders Association (1-800-931-2237)
- Eating Disorder Hope (1-888-274-7732)