Anorexia In The Media: To The Bone and Thin

Anorexia In The Media: To The Bone and Thin

Anorexia is often incorrectly perceived as a choice an individual makes based on vanity. There’s a preconceived notion about anorexia as something that’s mostly experienced by fashion models and those preoccupied with physical beauty. Although there is an epidemic of negative body image perpetuation through mainstream media, mainly through photoshopped images which project unrealistic and unhealthy types of bodies that leave many feeling unattractive and unhappy, eating disorders are complex and complicated mental health conditions.

Diet fads and messages about thinness in relation to happiness can be a trigger and one of the underlying reasons why many people develop disordered eating or eating disorders, with body shaming in the media as a pervasive force. People of all ages and genders can and do experience eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa is often seen as the deadliest mental illness, and can affect anyone. Need for control, mental illness like depression or anxiety, genetic factors, and substance abuse issues, and a high rate of suicide are all linked to anorexia.

Netflix’s fictional drama To the Bone  follows a 20 year old woman, Ellen, who is struggling with anorexia. She’s admitted to a program where she is treated with several other patients with eating disorders. The story doesn’t just dote on the eating habits of the patients or serve as some kind of PSA, but rather goes into the human aspect of those suffering with eating disorders with humor and humanity looking at Ellen’s relationship with her absentee father and stepmother and how this relates to how she sees herself.

Anorexia In The Media: To The Bone and Thin

Thin is an HBO documentary that follows patients from a 40 bed inpatient centre for women suffering from eating disorders. It chronicles these women’s journeys in a way that sheds light on how their eating disorders have completely taken a hold of their lives– rather than being a conscious choice to simply not eat. Suicidal thoughts, self-harm, low self esteem, and harmful relationships with family are all showcased. Brittany, for example, describes her mother teaching her unhealthy eating disorder behaviours from the age of 8. The film is an unflinching look at the world of eating disorders with unrestricted access to staff meetings, therapy sessions, mealtimes and weigh-ins. It shows the turbulent interpersonal relationships between the girls and women, and really looks into how the medical team work to tackle the complex task of treating their patients.

If you or a loved on is experiencing an eating disorder, it’s important to remember there is always help if you need it. For more information or help in Canada you can visit the National Eating Disorder Information Centre’s website, or call toll free at  1-866-633-4220. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts call 9-1-1 or the Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) at  1-833-456-4566 or text 45645.

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