To The Bone is based on the real-life experiences of the writer and director Marti Noxon. It stars Ellen (Lily Collins), a 20-year-old artist, who is only a few missed calories away from being on a feeding tube. She became infamous on Tumblr for promoting Thin-spiration tactics for remaining frail, and showcasing her Anorexia-inspired drawings. She was quite famous in the world of “rexies” (the nickname anorexics use for one another) until one of her avid ‘fans’ killed herself.
Ellen has been in 4 different treatment centers for her eating disorder, and this film showcases her 5th experience. Her step mom has connected her with a radical therapist, Dr. William Beckham (Keanu Reeves) and he runs a Los Angeles-based group home called ‘Threshold,’ where Ellen agrees to spend at least six weeks.
Threshold is like the “Girl, Interrupted” of eating disorders clinics. There’s a girl on a feeding tube, a girl keeping “puke bags” under her bed and a pregnant woman at risk of losing the baby due to malnutrition (who is called The Unicorn because “‘rexies” don’t typically get their period).
There, she is among many others who have hit “rock bottom” in the weight department, including a British love interest, Luke, who is a former dancer.
While Ellen is there, she is incredibly anti-social. She continues to measure her starvation success by whether or not her fingers can touch around her upper arms. Ellen offsets any calories with excessive sit-ups, to the extent where her spine shows and is covered in deep bruising. It’s quite hard to watch and brought back memories of some old friends. The warning signs were all there, but yet it was hard for me to confront them. Watching this movie really made me second guess my decisions, and I know I’ll always speak up now if I encounter a friend in this situation again.
Now I won’t get into spoiling the whole movie for you, but the revelation Ellen has at the end where she can see how sick she was and how badly she needed to recover is a “rock bottom” that many people with addictions and mental health disorders have experienced. It was also the part of the movie I resonated with the most.
The day I knew that I needed help was when I woke up from a night out and saw wine bottles piled up near my front door (I wasn’t previously a big drinker). I saw a text from my ex, asking when I threw my drink at him the night before when I saw him. I had no memory of this, and that was what scared me the most.
I knew that these behaviors were not my norm. What I didn’t know was that I was Manic Depressive, in a depressive state, and drinking like a fish. My impulses were nearly unmanageable, and I didn’t see myself as someone who needed help.
Like you’ll see in this movie, even though I had an entirely different disorder than Ellen, I still experienced shock, embarrassment, and shame just like she did. We both went to a clinic that same day we hit bottom. We both had a hope of finally being able to manage ourselves (her with food, me with impulsivity). This film inspired empathy in me and an understanding of what the symptoms can be when you lack self-awareness of the ability to see things from another perspective.
I hope that teens, moms, and anyone with a Netflix account watch this as a learning tool for the ramp to success when it comes to seeking help. The movie begins with her 5th attempt and ends with her actually wanting help for the first time. Isn’t that the difference? We need to want to change before we can change ourselves.
If you or a loved one you know has an eating disorder or body image issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.