When 13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix earlier this year, waves of reviews questioned the availability of its controversial content, and whether it glorified mental illness. Next in line, is To the Bone.
Premiering at Sundance Film Festival and now on Netflix, the feature length film follows 20-year-old Ellen battling anorexia in the face of a subtle family breakdown. Based on the personal experience of writer-director Marti Nixon, the film is made “by and with” fellow sufferers. Including lead Lily Collins, who’s publically commented on former eating disorders and her strict preparation for the role
Whether or not To the Bone is considered a ‘good’ film on eating disorders will be up for debate – especially if it’s close to home for its viewer. However, what I saw was a girl bent on self-destruction. She’s all of us who’ve ever felt we’d be better if we ate less or exercised more. The motivations for our choices, like Ellen, become the focus more than their outcome. Why does Ellen feel ‘less than’? Why do we monitor what we consume?
When concern around these shows is trending, the word I always here is ‘stigma’, referring to disgrace associated with certain circumstance or qualities: “We want to de-stigmatize suicide”, “we want to de-stigmatize eating disorders.” This is what catches my attention.
Of course, we don’t want to see people devalued because of the challenges they face. But let’s not normalize the diseases and illnesses themselves. No doubt more shows and movies like these will be made – it’s one of the beauties of TV’s online expansion – yet there’s a risk we become desensitized and start to accept their storylines as acceptable and commonplace. Suicide and death by self-starvation shouldn’t be normal. We’re not meant to be tormented by mental distress and feeling sick at the sight of ourselves. There is a greater life you’re called and designed to live, don’t accept disorder. There is hope, and there is help.
John 10:10 tells us Christ intended our lives be lived to the full. Psalm 139 reminds us we’re are fearfully and wonderfully made, beautiful and deigned with purpose.
Whatever challenges we may face in the world Christ has already overcome them. He invites us to cast our anxieties on him in exchange for peace.
Whenever you feel tempted to give up and accept the mess, don’t. God knows the plans he has for you. He’s given you a hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11
To the Bone 6.5/10
You can find Laura Bennett’s original article here