I don’t cry during movies. It isn’t my thing. I don’t become emotionally attached to the characters or the narrative, I simply observe. So when I broke down sobbing, absolutely ugly-cry sobbing during Troian Bellisario’s film Feed, it took me by complete surprise. That–my sobbing breakdown–is precisely why I believe those supporting a loved one in eating disorder recovery need to see this film.
Forget To The Bone with its stereotypical eating disorder narrative and rent Feed on iTunes, Vimeo, Amazon, or a few other places and take a hard look at what it is like to live inside the mind of someone with an eating disorder. Your $5.00 for the rental price will not be money wasted if you want to truly try to understand what your loved one is experiencing. Quite honestly, the trailer (linked above) does not do the movie justice. Allow me to explain…
The movie is about twins, Matt and Olivia, who are as close as two people can possibly be until Matt is tragically killed in a car accident (sorry for the spoiler). Following his death Olivia, who already had perfectionistic tendencies, copes with his death in the only way she can figure out how–through an eating disorder. While it may be confusing to understand at first for someone who hasn’t lived through the hell that is this disease, Matt becomes the personification of Olivia’s anorexia.
Feed doesn’t just chronicle another white girl’s descent into the pits of hell through her starvation; it gives a voice, character, and narrative to the eating disorder itself, as it slowly swallows her whole. Troian melds the two seamlessly by utilizing the brother, who begins as a caring and nurturing voice to help her navigate through grief, and turns him into the monster that is her disease. This film allows those who have never struggled with an eating disorder an inside glimpse into what day-to-day life is like while in the throes of this deadly mental illness.
Now, most individuals who suffer don’t have a twin that takes on their eating disorder’s voice, but the eating disorder does have a voice. For so many, as is reflected in the film, the voice begins softly and lovingly; reaching out and wrapping friendly arms of guidance around the struggling person before transforming into an abusive, dominating force that drives all decisions and actions. Depending upon the situation, the eating disordered voice will switch between the two–friend and abusive partner–until it controls every thought and aspect of the individual’s life. The disease chokes out the healthy voice in the individual, making the eating disordered voice the only one the person can hear; impeding concentration and normal social interaction.
Feed is the first eating disorder movie to ever give a character to the disease itself; fully demonstrating just how dominating the disease truly is over the mind and life of the individual. The personification of the character’s anorexia brings to light why it is so difficult for those who struggle to break free and come back from the depths of this disease. I found myself wide-eyed with agreement at nearly every turn the eating disorder made Olivia take, as I know what it is like to live with that hellish voice in your head.
My sobbing meltdown stemmed from the difficulty Olivia had in telling her therapist about the disease; the struggle to “come clean” while the eating disordered voice was yelling at her to stop. That particular scene was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever watched, as it was like witnessing part of my own life play out on film. The moment when I decided life was worth more than the “friend” that was dominating the thoughts in my head, and subsequently betraying that “friend” was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. This film shows the struggle–eating disorder development to choosing life–in astonishing detail.
I won’t lie, Feed might be hard for you to watch knowing this is the type of hell your loved one experiences on a daily basis, but it is incredibly worth it to help you understand the internal battle taking place.
In the end, the eating disorder is always there, we just learn how to live with it and control it rather than it controlling us.
Please take the time to rent and watch this movie; it truly is the best film about eating disorders that has ever been made.
With Body Love,