TRIGGER WARNING: this blog post contains discussion about eating disorders
WARNING: this blog post contains spoilers
Eating disorders are more common than you think. So many people are either living with an eating disorder or, if they’ve overcome it, living in fear of it coming back. Eating disorders affect around 9% of the world population; that’s over 700 million people. I’m one of them.
It’s understandable if many people affected by eating disorders aren’t ready to talk about it let alone watch a movie or documentary about it, but here are a few of the films and docs I was able to watch to learn about other people’s struggles.
To the Bone (2017)
This film was jaw dropping. I’ll be honest, I had to watch in sections because it was so raw. It follows Ellen, a 20-year-old with anorexia nervosa who is seeking help for her illness by moving into a group home for others living with eating disorders. This film touches on bulimia and binge eating as well.
We see Ellen’s ups and downs as she fights for her life. It seemed like such a real struggle and after doing some research I found out the woman who plays Ellen, Lily Collins, has struggled with eating disorders in her life as well. I’ll be honest, I find this upsetting. She had to lose a lot of weight for the film which was surely damaging to her own mental health let alone the fear of falling back into the evil arms of eating disorders and not to mention the film perpetuating the stereotype that only extremely thin women suffer from anorexia. However, it seems she is doing well which is just a testament to how powerful people really are.
This is the newest documentary on this list. Made by The Body Love Society, this documentary was inspired by the pandemic, the before and after photos from diet websites and diet fads in general. The doc discusses intuitive eating, the anti diet that encourages people to eat food they think will be the best and most nourishing for their bodies and to have a healthy relationship with food.
This was a great documentary because of how timely it was. Everyone was talking about the weight they gained during quarantine and overall body image was becoming more and more distorted. Fortunately, the wonderful people at The Body Love Society saw this unfolding and took action.
Starving in Suburbia (2014)
Watching a young woman become enveloped with the world of anorexia was difficult to watch but was educational and inspirational. The film’s main character, Hannah, joins a website pushing a skinny world agenda and glorifying being as thin as you possibly can to be beautiful.
Through a rollercoaster plot, we see the journey to recovery of the main character as well as the concept of “men don’t have eating disorders” which is problematic in and of itself but is emotionally addressed.
Keeping on the same theme of men and eating disorders, this BBC documentary was wonderfully done. Unfortunately, the stereotype of only women living with eating disorders has been perpetuated throughout the years, but this documentary challenged that notion and followed 17-year-old Charles and his battle with anorexia.
The stigma surrounding men/boys and eating disorders leads to many not diagnosed or helped through their illness. I found this doc interesting because I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It definitely helped open my eyes to another world of eating disorders.
This documentary was another hard one to watch, but it was very informative. It showed the process of choosing only the thinnest models for advertising campaigns and how even then, they had to be edited to display the literally unrealistic depiction of “what a woman should look like.”
This doc definitely solidified my beliefs in how unrealistic and body negative the advertising industry can be. Fortunately, we’ve made great strides since 2010, but the journey is far from over. I recommend this documentary to everyone, especially those who need a refresher on why body confidence and body positivity is so important.