“To The Bone” shines light on eating disorders, but real life can look a lot different

This weekend, Netflix premiered “To the Bone,” a semi-autobiographical story from writer and director Marti Noxon about a young woman struggling with an eating disorder.

The movie stars Lily Collins, who battled anorexia as a teenager in real life and was required to drop weight for the role.

Before it was even released, the film sparked controversy. Based on scenes from its trailer, critics raised alarm, claiming the movie could glamorize eating disorders, trigger anyone who’s struggled with the illness or body image issues, or spur vulnerable viewers to try these behaviors themselves.

Netflix and its creators stuck by the film and its message, saying its purpose is to start important conversations surrounding eating disorders. The film also includes a warning at the start that it shows graphic depictions.

“My goal with the film was not to glamorize EDs [eating disorders], but to serve as a conversation starter about an issue that is too often clouded by secrecy and misconceptions,” Noxon said in a statement. “I hope that by casting a little light into the darkness of this disease we can achieve greater understanding and guide people to help if they need it.”

The film succeeds in doing so in certain respects, experts tell CBS News. It sheds light on the complex relationships of family members and the role they play in eating disorder recovery. And there are scenes that dramatize things that should — and perhaps more often, should not – be said to someone with an eating disorder.

However, when it comes to the movie’s portrayal of who suffers from eating disorders and what those struggles actually look like, experts say it doesn’t quite mirror the diversity and complexity of real life.

Like the overwhelming majority of mainstream stories about eating disorders, the “To The Bone” centers around a young white woman with anorexia.

“When we talk about eating disorders and eating disorders as a serious public health issue, we need to also talk about how they affect…

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