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To the Bone: The Newest Movie to Cause Concern for Mental Health Practitioners

Netflix is the center of controversy once again. Not long ago the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, thrust the streaming service into the mental health spotlight as the series covered the issue of teen suicide. Recently, Netflix released the trailer for a film called, To the Bone, and many mental health professionals are voicing their concerns.

To the Bone is set to be released July 14th on Netflix. It is a drama starring Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves and Carrie Preston. The description of the film is as follows, “Ellen, a 20-year-old with anorexia nervosa, goes on a harrowing, sometimes funny journey of self-discovery at a group home run by an unusual doctor” (, 2017). Although it has yet to be released, the trailer provided some insight into the movie. There are depictions of the lead actress as extremely thin, counting calories and engaging in behaviors common to those with disordered eating.

It is hard to judge a movie based solely on the trailer. My hope is that the movie takes a stigmatized subject and facilitates discussion benefiting those who struggle with this form of mental illness but I worry it will both trivialize and sensationalize eating disorders. The film writer/director has an opportunity to provide an informative depiction of eating disorders. If the topic is covered by including a diverse population of both men and women with a variety of eating disorders, it may open up the realistic conversation the director was intending to provide. Considering the director and lead actress have both struggled with an eating disorder, I hope the movie is responsible with its imagery and doesn’t violate practices used within the eating disorder community to prevent relapse or promote disordered eating. However, I fear some of the images may be triggering to patients and those in recovery, and could potentially be distressing to the general population. For all these reasons, I think it would be prudent of Netflix to provide the appropriate parental and trigger warnings prior to both the film and the trailer.

As a parent, we can get ahead of the content of this movie and prepare ourselves if/when our teens watch it, as opposed to when 13 Reasons Why came out and parents were playing catch-up. If you, or your child, are vulnerable to the topic of eating disorders, know that both the movie and trailer could be triggering.

Have you seen the trailer? Will you watch the movie? What are your thoughts about the content of the movie? I'd love to hear them. (2017). To the Bone | Netflix Official Site. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

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