To the Bone: A Blog to the Lovers and the Haters...and Everyone in Between

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Monday, June 26, 2017

 


Back in the mid-1980’s I stumbled upon a Hallmark or Lifetime movie about bulimia. The show demonstrated in detail, a lot of which I can still remember, how the young, pretty, skinny white actress engaged in her symptoms. I remember staring at the screen, mesmerized. The show didn’t make me want to copy the girl’s behavior. Gratefully I never went on to develop bulimia. But in the ensuing years, eating disorder specialists began doing research on the harms of these kinds of movies as well as the unintentional harm caused in health class lectures which intended to provide education but ended up planting ideas in young minds.
So I felt a large pit in my stomach when I saw the trailer to the new Netflix movie about one girl’s struggle with anorexia. I posted my feelings about it in a quick rant on my FB page Saturday night and was shocked to see that in 24 hours it had been shared nearly 150 times, far more than anything I had written before. The comments I received on this post are why I’m writing this blog in response. The first dozen or so comments are from sufferers of eating disorders. Many of those who commented later are from those defending the film. I’d like to share with you some of the comments I received from those who suffer from an eating disorder. And provide a response to some of the arguments defending the movie.

 

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"It's exactly the sort of thing I was drawn to when I was really, really sick - all those horrible Lifetime movies and ED books that give tips and tricks to the vulnerable. Not good."
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"As someone recovering from anorexia, it's absolutely miserable to see this stuff and my eating disorder voice becomes about 20 times louder (thus making it 20 times harder to eat).
It has stirred up so much in my already murky mind. Two minutes of this movie and I can barely hear myself think."
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"This movie is irresponsible, at best. It's perpetuating stereotypes that make seeking and accepting treatment much more difficult. Time for a Netflix hiatus."
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"I am very passionate about my recovery-- and what it took to get to where I am today. Here. I am proud of my 10 years of hard work. I am not easily triggered. In fact, I can't remember the last time I felt truly triggered. EDs voice isn't as strong as mine these days. You can imagine my surprise when I watched this trailer and felt that pit in my stomach and that voice a little louder than it has been in the past 10 years. My biggest fear is that someone who is in delicate stages of recovery will see this and feel the same. I am so disappointed that this movie has been made."
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"Ever since I saw the trailer, I've struggled more. I think what bugs me the most is knowing that the actress has had ED herself. Yet, they made her lose weight for the role. Some articles say she had to "relive anorexia." I keep reading she lost weight in a healthy way and had a dietician, but her weight is anything but healthy. What kinda of dietician allows that? It's triggered me into thinking that if she can be that size and it's healthy, then...why can't I? Also, if you look at her social media pages, young girls are asking her how she stays so small and saying they want to be like her."
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For some people, it IS “just” a movie that will spark some dialog. That’s fact. But I implore you to consider that this very film about anorexia has already and will continue to harm SOME people. Ironically, the people it will harm will be some of those who are vulnerable to develop or already suffer from an eating disorder. That to me, breaks my heart.

 

My response to those who provide arguments FOR the movie:
#1 “This movie shows real issues. We shouldn’t ignore real issues that affect people.”
I agree on all counts. And the cool thing is that there are so many ways to talk about the reality of eating disorders while reducing harm by the way we do it. There are large organizations who do this well and whose missions I support. I’ll provide resources at the bottom.
Rape is also a very real issue. But most of us wouldn’t defend the viewing of rape scenes in a movie as a great teaching tool to spread awareness. Nor would we show it to our children to generate discussion.
Based on the trailer I’m deeply worried about the film. But I don’t think our only two options are films like this one or nothing at all.
#2 “This movie spreads awareness.”
I also agree. It’s stirred so much controversy and people are definitely talking, including me! But I believe in human creativity and ingenuity. Movies like this have been made since the 1980’s. Have we not improved in over 3 decades?? We have the capacity to do better! While I don’t have the creative skill, I have no doubt that an incredible movie about eating disorders can and hopefully will one day be made. A movie that raises awareness, sparks conversation, hopefully raises money, and doesn’t harm the vulnerable. I feel like the film "Embrace" is a perfect example. It tackles the tough and very real topic of negative body image while doing so in a mostly inspiring way. 
#3 “We should give people freedom to make films about eating disorders and we should not suggest censorship.”
I also agree. People will continue to make all kinds of films and I am going to continue working with my clients and with my social media platforms to help my clients become conscious and thoughtful consumers of media. I do this literally all day from my office. To be clear, the petition is to ask filmmakers to have a content review by professionals.
#4 “It’s a movie and not meant to cause harm. It’s demonstrating real life.”
I can’t speak to the intention of the movie. For certain, this movie will not be at all harmful for some. I’m confident that viewing it wouldn’t harm me. But it will harm the vulnerable. And the vulnerable are whom I’m interested in. They are the reason I wrote my FB post. They are the reason for this blog. I have sat with countless clients who have told me, “I got the idea for my bulimia by watching that Lifetime movie. Had I only known that I’d still be suffering 20 years later…I wish I never saw that film.” So yes, YES, I want to yell out “let’s find another way to raise awareness and have conversation.”
 
My entire career is dedicated to the treatment of people suffering from eating disorders. To you I say:
1. If watching this trailer has triggered you, make a commitment to not watch it. If you feel up to it, share your experience as to why you feel it’s harmful. You have a voice. Use it!
2. There are so many ways to suffer with an eating disorder. If your eating disorder doesn’t look like what is shown in this film, your struggle is still real and valid. You deserve support. And you deserve treatment.
3. There is no healthy way to do what Lily Collins did for this film. I don’t know who the nutritionist was for the film. And the idea that what she did for the film could be accomplished “healthfully” is as far from any truth I can imagine. It is literally NOT A THING. Erase that from your minds. To think of the young people asking Lily for advice on how she did it and how they can be small like her is breaking my ever-loving heart.
I’d love to see greater awareness for eating disorders. But we can do better. We can do so much better.

 

Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders by Mindframe (scroll down to "Other Media Resources"

 

Self-Care or Self-Destruction Post-Election 2016

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Regardless of whether you supported Donald Trump or not, this election has likely deeply affected you. In this video blog I share my thoughts about picking up the self-care pieces post-election 2016. Self-care is at the center of your ability to be present and effective as the kind of change agent YOU want to be. And during stressful times our best attempts at self-care can unintentionally slip into self-destruction. I encourage you to take a quick self-assessment, commit (or re-commit) to taking charge of your online media usage, and remember that we aren't able to be effective when we are trying to pour from a dry well.

What are you doing to take care of yourself post-election?

Healing the Hate: A Better Body Image for 2016

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Monday, July 25, 2016

This post originally debuted in January and with the heat of summer upon us I had to re-share it.

Key Point: You cannot talk your way to better body image. If you treat yourself with hate you will continue to feel hate towards your body. In this video blog I share with you the why and the how to improve your body image through actionable steps.

After you view this video blog, I hope you will share what you plan to start doing that feels good to your body. What action step or steps will you start making today?

 


#4- Societal & Cultural Norms Fuel the Fire

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Thursday, February 25, 2016

A client in recovery wishes you knew:

There are so many things that I wish people knew about EDs - and primarily because people don’t talk about them as much as they should given their prevalence and our society’s warped perspective on women’s bodies. No one who has an eating disorder wants it; they affect people of all ages and genders and backgrounds and races and cultures and - anyone; saying “just eat more” isn’t going to do anyone any good; it’s more important to listen to someone who has an ED often more often than talking to them. The list goes on and on. What’s important is to know that there is so much to learn about and to stay open to and to gather support for, because the more you know and the more they know, the better off you all will be.

Emily Fonnesbeck wishes you knew:

That they aren’t glamorous, although it’s easy to assume in a culture of clean eating, fitspiration,filters and photoshopping. When our bodies are our primary focus, we can miss emotional distress that can lead to mental illness. That isn’t anything to take lightly; eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. While the causes and triggers for eating disorders are multiple and varied, they often start as innocently as trying a diet (yes even so-called “healthy diets”; a true oxymoron). I wish people realized the possible triggering that can result from viewing or listening to YOUR before/after pictures, gym selfies and dieting tips. If you are the one triggered, get rid of it. Be careful about the type of media messages you let into your mind, heart and soul. While it may not be culturally acceptable, please know that you absolutely, positively get to say NO.

It seems that in terms of health and fitness, a common belief is that strength and self-improvement comes from eating a certain way, sticking to a diet or pushing through the pain in exercise. I don’t believe it. I feel true strength and self-improvement comes from being true to yourself and respecting yourself enough to avoid the demoralizing world of weight, body shape and diet obsession. Anyone can (and deserves to) find peace with food, their body and themselves.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

emilyfonnesbeck.com

https://www.facebook.com/EmilyFonnesbeckRD

http://pinterest.com/emilyfonnesbeck

http://instagram.com/emilyfonnesbeck_rd

https://twitter.com/emilyfonnesbeck

Helping you make peace with food to end disordered eating.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Sunday, February 21, 2016

A couple of months ago I began contemplating what I wanted to share for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) 2016. Each year for the past several years I have honored this important week with a variety of posts on insurance coverage, personal recovery stories, Twitter Chats, fact and statistics, and much more. And this year I decided to develop my own theme to honor this important week. I asked my clients and colleagues to respond to the question:


And I got answers! So this week, you will be hearing what my clients and colleagues wish people knew about eating disorders. I hope that you will participate in this important conversation. And I believe that engaging with social media content is a simple way to make a big difference. Every time you share, comment, or  read NEDAW content you are helping the cause move one step further to de-mystifying, preventing, and treating these illnesses. Your participation, no matter how great or small, matters.

So let's get the conversation going. What do you wish people know about eating disorders? I'd love to know your thoughts and am eager to share mine. Stay tuned!