Earlier this evening I read an article on The Mighty criticizing the upcoming Netflix movie To The Bone. The movie depicts the struggle the writer had with anorexia. Given the struggle was with anorexia, the star of the movie is extremely thin. Out of curiosity I followed the link to watch the movie trailer, knowing in the past things like this were known triggers of mine. For some reason, seeing an emaciated woman would drive my brain to want to look that way as well. It suddenly became a competition.
Watching the trailer, I witnessed the emaciated woman talk about counting calories, exercising until she was bruised and exhausted, and finally ending up in treatment. When she wanted to give up on herself others refused to give in. I watched the main character watch others having fun, eating, and living life while she sat on the sidelines. In a way, I felt like I was watching my former life on the screen before me in a manner older movies about eating disorders could never capture. In that moment I felt sorry for the main character; I did not want to be her.
Instead of feeling triggered to return to that former life, I felt pride and happiness. I often find it hard to believe that I started this final recovery attempt 2.5 years ago now. Often, it feels like a lifetime ago that the diseased portion of my brain controlled my every thought, action, and entire life. Watching the trailer I was reminded of how much better life can be on this side–the recovery side–of things. Instead of watching my friends eating sushi, laughing about stupid stuff that happened, and deciding to get snow cones at the last minute; I participate. I go get sushi and eat in front of people while sitting in a crowded restaurant without fear that people are judging my body and the amount of food on my plate. If someone is judging, it is his/her problem not mine. I honestly feel a little sorry for said person because, quite possibly, s/he is struggling with body image and food–perhaps without even realizing it. I’ve learned life is so much better when it is being lived versus when I was living inside myself, hidden by a life-threatening, life-changing disease.
While this film may indeed be triggering for someone in an active eating disorder or in the very first stages of recovery, I think there is going to be a lot of educational insight into the mind of a person struggling with an eating disorder. In the few moments of the trailer alone, I was really surprised by how spot-on the thoughts, actions, and mannerisms of the woman struggling were to what it was like in my mind during the eating disordered reign. I am so proud I am in a place where I can see something like To The Bone as educational content instead of using it to trigger my own disease and spiral back to the depths of the disease. This was a cathartic work for the writer, something I completely understand, we just chose to do it differently. Typically, I try to protect those in an active eating disorder, and those who are in the early stages of recovery, by not writing anything that could be clearly triggering. This post is going to be a little different.
I think the trailer to this movie could be good for those readers who have not struggled with an eating disorder, and even those who are like me and no longer triggered by this material. It makes me grateful for the place I am in now, strong, healthy, and living life. Within the few moments presented in the trailer, I felt like I was watching much of the eating disordered dialogue I had with my struggle presented in a movie format. It brings to life a lot of things I write about. So, this is where I am choosing to trust my readers and let them explore their boundaries. While this material isn’t triggering to me, I understand and respect that it may be triggering to others; therefore, this is where I am trusting you to know your limits and the bounds of your struggle with this disease.
This is where I am choosing to trust my readers and know I cannot protect everyone from triggers at all times.
With Body Love,