Let me explain…
I have been reading a lot of articles about the new Netflix movie, ‘To the Bone’. People have A LOT of opinions on this movie and there is a debate about whether it is contributing to/ causing eating disorders.
No, I’m sorry, this is not causing you or your child’s eating disorder. Eating disorders are very complex things and there isn’t one thing that causes them. How do I know? Science! (Well, that and extensive research on my own personal issues and disorders). In any case, NO, movies did not cause my eating disorder, and after watching ‘To the Bone’, I can safely say you can watch it without it causing you an eating disorder. As a matter of fact, this movies subject matter is not new. Think back to say the ’90s, Lifetime was a TV channel dedicated to women’s issues and had multiple movies about eating disorders. There was ‘For the Love of Nancy’ starring Tracey Gold, ‘Perfect Body’ starring Amy Jo Johnson, and my personal favorite ‘A Secret Between Friends:A Moment of Truth Movie’ which is about two friends who seem outwardly well liked and happy, but one dies from complications of her bulimia. There were countless others, but my point here is that these movies have been around forever, and don’t glamorize eating disorders but nearly show the ugly truth. They serve to educate people about what its like to have an eating disorder even if it’s just one small glimpse into that life.
Back to my first point…. The cause of eating disorders is still unknown; it’s believed that many factors influence whether someone develops an eating disorder. My own eating disorder causes are still unknown to me fully except that it was a combination of things. In my personal opinion it was a combination of the way I was brought up, my own mother suffered from disordered eating and I watched her for years refuse to eat with the family. My own psychological need to do well and be perfect all the time but not being able to control my urges played a huge part as well as bottled up anger and feeling no way to release it. I didn’t discover all the factors until years later through therapy, and still struggle daily with issues relating to my disorder. I’ve researched eating disorders extensively in my own quest to not only understand why I struggle, but also what I can do to help others. Through that extensive research I have found article after article and study after study that eating disorders are not caused by watching a movie and wanting to emulate it. (Really, who wants to be like the people in those movies? I didn’t, but somehow I was that girl).
The true factors are as vast as the backgrounds of the people who suffer with them. According to the eating disorder website eatingdisorderhope.com it’s believed that genetic, environmental, psychological, as well as stressful life transitions can cause bulimia and anorexia. That doesn’t sound to me like a movie is giving anyone an eating disorder.
Now that I am older and have gained some knowledge of food, people, and how people interact with food, I can tell you that your relationship with food has a lot to do with your background as well as your psychological make up, and yes social pressures, but watching one movie does not make someone who wasn’t already at that point become anorexic or bulimic.
I urge you to examine your relationship with your food. If you are a parent, look at what you are portraying to your children. Make it a point to change your relationship with food, see food as fuel, not as a reward or something to be restricted. The sooner we as a society embrace food as an aid to stay healthy, the sooner we will stop having to worry about movies that portray sad stories, childhood obesity, and a host of other health issues.
Take time to invest in your health, health is wealth.