Netflix’s To the Bone- Helpful or Hindrance?

Netflix’s To the Bone- Helpful or Hindrance?

By Karina Robson

Netflix’s new movie To the Bone has sparked concerns from experts who claim it may glamorise eating disorders or even spark a wave of copycat behaviour in vulnerable viewers.

To the Bone follows the journey of a 20 year old woman living with and recovering from anorexia nervosa. It was released onto the streaming platform in Australia on the 14th of July and since then has gained a lot of attention, both negative and positive.

Australia’s leading organisation for eating disorders and body image, The Butterfly Foundation, has issued a warning for the film, saying it could leave vulnerable viewers worse off.

CEO of The Butterfly Foundation, Christine Morgan said, “Eating disorders are unlike any other illnesses, the visual portrayal of them in media is more often triggering and harmful and a high degree of care needs to always be taken.”

Ms Morgan said the filmmakers had not gone far enough to protect the susceptible audience viewers.

“Butterfly have been in discussion with Netflix ahead of the planned release including the possibility of on-screen warnings and support information before, and after, each screening.”

The film opens with a warning stating: “The film was created by and with individuals who have struggled with eating disorders, and it includes realistic depictions that may be challenging for some viewers.”

Alongside The Butterfly Foundation, Headspace has joined in on their warnings, reporting some images from the film have already appeared on so called “thinspiration” websites, platforms for sufferers to glamorise eating disorders.

“The concern is about portrayal of behaviours associated with an eating disorder – and whether this may be providing a ‘how to’ guide for adolescents who may be at risk,” – Headspace CEO Jason Trethowan.

Despite these warnings, PhD Candidate from the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University, Joanna Doley, said the film isn’t going to cause an eating disorder for anyone who isn’t already classed as vulnerable.

Although Ms Doley says not all people who watch the film will be effected negatively, she believes the filmmakers have missed an important opportunity to increase the understanding of the diversity of eating disorders.

Eating disorders are estimated to effect 9% of the population at one time and as important it is to continually raise awareness and prompt large scale discussions, but it’s crucial to ensure there’s something new and helpful to the conversation.

Need Support?

If you are feeling overwhelmed and wish to speak to someone, you can call:

•Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (AEST 8:00am – 9:00pm, MON – FRI)

•Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 support




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