Netflix Feature Film To The Bone – A Safe Viewing Guide!

I am providing my unique and educated perspectives and opinions on the Netflix feature film To The Bone. This is an incredibly controversial topic that I feel must be addressed, and I would like to preface this with this simple statement…. I, in no way recommend an individual within their Eating Disorder, or within the beginning and/or fragile stages of recovery to watch this film, just as much as I would not condone an individual who experienced trauma and has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), serving our country overseas to watch American Sniper, as these Hollywood depictions of mental illnesses can be incredibly triggering to those experiencing just that!

To The Bone - A Safe Viewing Guide

My Opinion on To The Bone

I most likely will dissatisfy and possibly upset many within this post, as my opinions regarding this film do not necessarily coincide with the majority opinions within the Eating Disorder community. I actually liked this film, although I found several triggering and falsifications within the film….granted each and every story is different and we must start somewhere! If this is where we start talking about Eating Disorders….then I am in support! FYI: the Eating Disorder community is not necessarily  pleased with this film, in that Instagram gurus and fellow #EDWarriors have written several posts about the dangers, dislikes and falsities of the film….and to be clear, I do not necessarily disagree with these opinions! I absolutely believe that Hollywood has a knack for glamorizing mental illnesses, falsifying symptoms and fabricating truths, but that unfortunately is the definition of hollywood, people want an escape, people want to feel taken away by a film! Therefore, I will say this again, I DO NOT recommend or condone any individuals who feel vulnerable within the topic of Eating Disorders to watch this film, as it may be triggering! With that being said, here are my thoughts and tips in regards to viewing this film

The Film

The film focuses on a story of a twenty year old, heterosexual white female who has Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Ellen, the main character, depicts the stereotypical image and description of what an individual with an Eating Disorder “looks like”, emaciated, female, and white. This is absolutely a valid depiction of many individuals within their Eating Disorder (ED), although this exact stereotype is why so many cases go unnoticed; that is 50% of ED’s go unnoticed within primary care! With that being said, the film does depict other body types, ages, sexes, genders, and races, as ED’s do not discriminate!

Let’s Talk About it! 

The film focuses on one small aspect of Eating Disorders, in that the all encompassing process of Eating Disorders spans over years, sometimes decades! The plot focuses on a specific moment within the character’s treatment. Ellen, played by Lilly Collins, is admitted into an exclusive, and “radical” inpatient treatment center ran by a doctor, played by Keanu reeves. This treatment center is drastically different than that of a typical inpatient setting, in many ways, although that is not necessarily what this post is about! I am not writing this to review the movie, nor to shed light on the falsities and fabrications within the script, rather I want to talk about safe ways to watch and talk about this film!

Not a Film Review

This film is on Netflix, therefore it is accessible to many! Hence, seeing that I am not a film critic, and instead an advocate for Eating Disorder Awareness and healthy and safe practices of self-care, I have laid out some viewing and talking points for you! With that being said, whether you are a mother, a grandmother, a father, a son, a brother, a sister or a friend, I highly recommend reading these tips, as this movie can cause for triggering thoughts and emotions surrounding Eating Disorders, body image and mental health.

Safely View This Film With Six Steps

***I will say this again, I do not encourage individuals within their Eating Disorder or in the beginning stages of recovery to watch this film, as it may be triggering….just because it may be “relevant” does not mean you have to watch it!

To The Bone

1.Make sure that you are viewing this film in a safe space. Are you surrounded by people that care for you, or that you care for? Are you around friends, family or loved ones? Are you mentally and emotionally prepared for severe visual depictions of Eating Disorders? Ensure that you are feeling safe, whether that means you are surrounded by people that you trust, or maybe you are providing that support for someone else!

2.Have the remote in hand. Pause, rewind or maybe even fast forward the movie when you feel you need to process or absorb something! If you are watching this with your daughter, pause the movie at times where she may show discomfort or confusion and start a dialogue surrounding the feelings and emotions brought upon by the film. This film can cause for people to notice behaviors that they never realized they were practicing, such as body checking and food rituals, therefore if your loved one asks questions regarding these behaviors lend an ear and listen to their concerns. Afterwards, reach out to Recovery Love and Care or a clinician for professional advice!

3.Fact check and perception check! If you are watching this with a loved one or younger person, make sure to provide proper information and education regarding behaviors and symptoms surrounding Eating Disorders. Talk about the concept of body image, and process the feelings that may arise from the character’s depiction! Eating Disorders exist in ALL bodies, fat bodies, skinny bodies, “normal” looking bodies, black bodies, brown bodies, old bodies, young bodies, male bodies, female bodies, trans bodies, able bodies, rich bodies and poor bodies, therefore make sure to educate in a proper manner to supplement the images seen in this film!

4.Set aside time before and after viewing the film to process your thoughts, whether that is via a journal, text, phone call or face to face conversation! It is so important to give your thoughts and feelings a name, it will help foster a sense of understanding and safety surrounding this movie. This movie was meant to start a conversation, and there is not wrong one to have, because your feelings are your feelings! Process in a safe environment! I recommend either sitting down with a loved one and having a conversation, or journaling your thoughts!

5.Keep yourself and others accountable and encourage conversation! No, there is no wrong or right way to “feel” before, during or after viewing this film, although the conversation regarding the education surrounding Eating Disorders is crucial! Remember….people with Eating Disorder’s are not selfish, and they do not “choose” their disorder, Eating Disorder is a mental illness and serious addiction that requires clinical treatment and intense recovery, placing blame and fault is counterproductive and quite pointless – instead focus on help, and lastly, Eating Disorders exist in ALL bodies, all ages, sizes, races, ethnicities, socio-economic classes, genders, sexes and sizes…!

6.Question WHY you or your loved ones are watching this film. This statement is in the absence of shame, and instead to challenge your motivations behind this viewing. Is it to educate yourself? Is it to form an educated opinion on the reliability of the script? Is it for entertainment? Or is it another voice telling you to watch it….maybe it is your “diet” voice, that “Eating Disorder” voice, or another toxic and sneaky reason why you “want” to view this film. That is all OKAY….but if it IS your ED voice, or you are watching the film to pick up new habits and indulge yourself in toxic thoughts, I challenge you to combat that voice. You are bigger, better and stronger that that voice! This film is not a “funny” movie, it is not a “feel good” movie, therefore, again, I ask you to question your motivations behind viewing this film! Make sure you are staying safe and true to your own voice!

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Project HEAL – A New Partner!

Project HEAL

Project HEAL is a phenomenal organization that funds Eating Disorder Treatment for individuals who cannot afford to do so themselves. This organization, Project HEAL, was founded by two amazing young 15 year old women who met in treatment and chose to help others reach full recovery as well!

A New Partner

Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran are two Eating Disorder Warriors and now foundation founders who have spread Project HEAL across the country and around the globe! Project HEAL sponsored the controversial film To The Bone, and is all about spreading the much needed awareness and education about Eating Disorders and diet culture. I am pleased to officially be partnering with Project Heal! Partial proceeds of all ticket proceeds and One Hope Wine sales at my events and speaking engagements will go towards Project HEAL

As I launch my business I cannot wait to promote Project HEAL, as well as, spread awareness and education about the truths behind Eating Disorders. Time and time again, I run into medical professionals, counselors and helping professionals who have very little, to no knowledge about Eating Disorders, and that is exactly why 50% of Eating Disorders go unnoticed within primary care! Through my own Eating Disorder and Recovery story, as well as, my growing clinical knowledge, and current partnerships, I hope to help medical professionals, helping professionals and parents understand the concept of Eating Disorders, and this skewed depiction of health within our fat phobic, weight-loss and diet crazed society!

Full Recovery Is Possible

Project HEAL and Recovery Love and Care share the same belief, that full recovery from an Eating Disorder IS POSSIBLE!  Let me start off by saying that this statement in no way belittles or demeans the overall process of substance abuse and alcohol addictions, instead it sheds light on the truths behind Eating Disorders and the process of Eating Disorder recovery. Many individual’s within substance abuse and/or alcohol abuse recovery have “fought” me on the concept of full recovery and the chance of relapse within Eating Disorder recovery, because within substance abuse and alcohol recovery, full recovery is not considered possible, because one can possibly relapse at any given time. This is not the case within Eating Disorder recovery, because you NEED food to live, you NEED to go to the bathroom and eliminate to live, you WILL burn calories throughout your day no matter what, and that is why Eating Disorder recovery is so tricky, because Eating Disorders involve a relationship, albeit a negative one, with the body, food, exercise, and elimination. With that being said, the process of recovery is the hardest part about one’s entire journey within their Eating Disorder. That is not saying that recovery isn’t a healthier and happier choice, because IT IS, instead it is saying that recovery is hard as hell. But it is worth it….let me tell you why!

The beginning stages of my Eating Disorder recovery were by far 10 times worse than my actual Eating Disorder. My body started to change, it started to rebel against me, I had to retrain my brain to understand hunger queues, and fullness queues, I had to retrain my mind and body to accept food, love and care! Recovery was HARD….and if someone ever told me that full recovery was not possible, I probably wouldn’t have done it. If someone told me that I would never reach a state of full recovery, I probably would have given up, plain and simple. Why?…. Why would I put my mind and body through that confusion to never get better? Now that I am fully recovered from a life long Eating Disorder, I can confidently say that recovery is AMAZING! Recovery is BEAUTIFUL, EMPOWERING, AND JUST SO WORTH IT! Full recovery IS POSSIBLE! I was lucky enough to have a team of professionals guide me throughout my recovery, and tel me that reaching full recovery was possible, and I am so grateful they did! This is not to say that recovery is perfect, because it is certainly not! Recovery is NOT linear….it is wavy, bumpy and rocky, but once you move through that process, it is so serene!

 

As I always say, you don’t choose your Eating Disorder but you DO CHOOSE RECOVERY! If you are within your Eating Disorder/recovery, or you know someone within their Eating Disorder/recovery, I encourage you to live by Project HEAL and Recovery Love and Care’s philosophy, that FULL RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE, AND IT IS WORTH IT!

Stay tuned for more information about my partnership with the one and only Project HEAL! 

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Fat Is Not a Feeling – Identifying Your Fat Feelings and Finding Freedom in Your Body!

Finding a positive and healthy body image is so incredibly challenging…especially when you don’t FEEL as if you look your best! But first let me remind you…FAT IS NOT A FEELING! Once you can come to terms with this concept, you will feel free from this socialized stigma that comes along with the word fat. You will find freedom in your independent body, you will find love and truth with who you are and what you “look like.”

But Why?

Each and every one of your feelings and emotions is valid, therefore, once you identify your ACTUAL FEELINGS….NOT YOUR FAT FEELINGS you will be on your way towards a healthy body image!

Fat Is Not a Feeling!!

Whenever I “feel” fat….I always need to remind myself that FAT IS NOT A FEELING…and when I forget, which admittedly is quite often, Sean reminds me, my support system reminds me!

Identify Your Feelings

Once I remind myself that fat is not a feeling, I first refer to my trusty vocabulary wheel…which I basically have memorized…I then identify my feelings. I suggest you give this baby a good look, because it is gold!

feelings-wheel-1

Once you can identify your “fat feeling” through a broader vocabulary, it is that much easier to face that feeling and/or feelings.

Facing your feelings looks different for each and every person, and is dependent on the situation. For instance, there are times where I find that instead of “feeling” fat, I feel vulnerable and powerless. I then identify what I NEED based off of these feelings….in the moments I feel vulnerable and powerless I usually need extra love, whether that be self love, or love from another being. Sometimes I lay down with a good book and cup of tea, other times I cuddle up with my dog Gio and a glass of wine, other times I just blatantly tell Sean that I need a bit more love, and ask for a hug!

Celebrate you!!

When you “feel” fat try thinking of what you truly NEED. Most often what you need is happiness, and then ask yourself how you can TRULY achieve that happiness! What will bring you to an emotional level of what you NEED? Try identifying your feelings, then identifying what you need, and then identifying how you can get that, is it self-care? Is it sleep? Is it a hug? Is it a good cry?

Live an AND life

Here is another thing to keep in mind…it is possible, and more often than not, very likely to feel more than one feeling! Therefore, instead of using BUT, use AND. For instance, you CAN feel sad AND happy at the same time; you CAN feel guilty AND confident at the same time! Once you identify your “fat feeling” as a valid feeling, you may find that you have several feelings flooding your mind and body….and once you identify those feelings, you can face each one head on in a SAFE AND HEALTHY way.

If you do not feel that you are in a safe place to identify and face your feelings alone….then do it when you are safe, when you are with a loved one, when you are with a helping professional, and then once you are safe, you can slowly learn how to gain the courage to face those “fat feelings” on your own.

The more you face your “fat feelings” the more often those feelings will change to “healthy body” and “body positive” feelings.

Find Freedom in “Fat”

Once you identify your fat feelings, and come to terms with what you NEED, YOU CAN AND WILL FIND FREEDOM! Separating your feelings from your perceived “fat” is a beautiful thing, but taking away the stigma of being “fat” is an entire different type of freedom! Why is it bad to be fat, why is fat a bad word, what is fat anyway? Find freedom in your own body, in your own state of health, in your own beauty ideals! You can find freedom in the socialized concept of “fat”, the fear of fat no longer needs to exist!

Choose Freedom!
Photo: Aneris Photography

Recap

  1. Your feelings are valid
  2. Fat is not a feeling
  3. Identify your “Fat Feelings”
  4. Identify that you can feel multiple feelings at one time – use AND instead of BUT
  5. Find self-awareness through ACTUALLY feeling your feelings
  6. Face your feelings
  7. Practice self-love and self-care
  8. Find freedom in “fat”

This is one small step towards finding a healthy body image! As you move through your weekend, remember that you are capable of loving yourself from the inside out and the outside in!

Self Care It Out Everyone!!

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