All the wrong things about “To The Bone”
Among all the new Netflix productions that have been released last summer (seriously, it’s impossible to keep up with all of them) there was a movie dedicated to the subjects of commonly known eating disorders, and particularly, to the issue of anorexia nervosa. “To the bone” has gathered almost immediate popularity as it has been awaited since the intriguing trailer that appeared in January.
Despite the initial positivity and excitement due to the fact that the subject of eating disorders is still quite neglected in popular film productions, the general reception of the movie hasn’t been as good as predicted. Many viewers, especially the ones who had some previous experience and knowledge of the subject have found it unrealistic, triggering and accused the producers of “romanticizing the serious mental illnesses that eating disorders are”.
Personally, I am in two minds about the movie. It seemed to me that it has portrayed some aspects of the struggle quite accurately and the acting game was exceptional and skillful. However, I believe that the majority of issues was extremely simplified and the general theme lacks some kind of intellectual depth.
In addition to this, I have found many things that simply didn’t add up and were entirely illogical. I put them on some kind of a list which I decided to share.
All the paradoxes/wrong things I found in “To The Bone”:
1. The rules of the treatment house such as “you don’t have to eat/you can have whatever you want”. This is not a treatment. I’m not saying that mustering up food into patients is a method, but they HAVE to eat and it shouldn’t be them who decides about their intake. It is dangerous, disordered and does not help them to get better. It seems that the “treatment” is just a temporary separation from their environment and they’re moved into a new house where they can technically continue to develop their disordered patterns.
2. The fact that the main character chews and spits in a PUBLIC place and her friend calls it “pure beauty” or other appreciative expression. Beside the point that this scene is clearly promoting the illness, it is simply unreal since behavior like this isn’t and should never be socially acceptable.
3. The specifics of mental illnesses are not taken seriously by the professionals, for example in the scene where the nurse/doctor/whoever she plays says that they have “many overachievers” when talking about cutters. Self harm is a sign of a serious mental problems, it’s not a hobby or a game.
4. The doctors and medical assistants don’t appear to be paying a lot of attention to their patients overall. They do two therapy sessions, weight them, give them “points” (although this method is commonly used in real world I highly doubt its effectiveness) and that’s all. They don’t even supervise them during meal times (when they don’t have to eat and leave the room despite that the rules technically forbid that) not they talk to them during the day. I know that this is how many institutions work like, but the one in a movie is an “atypical” and non-public one therefore it’s expected to offer a wider range of helpful activities.
5. Moving to the subject of a non-public clinic, we all know that healthcare is EXTREMELY expensive in the US, especially the private one. One of the main characters, Luke, says that his family “doesn’t give a shit about him” and he also adds that “ballet companies don’t pay him a lot” thus it’s kind of unreal that he can afford such a treatment. Ellen’s family also doesn’t show a lot of willingness to pay thousands of dollars for her next in-patient.
Disclaimer: I am fully aware that “To The Bone” is only a movie and the characters are fictional, therefore they do not reflect the reality. I also know that it was impossible to create the profound and comprehensive background for all the subjects the movie has raised and shown (such as the financial status of the patients, the specifics of the treatment etc.) Those are only my opinions and observations. They’re entirely based on my personal knowledge of the matter of eating disorders and recovery.