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Netflix faces backlash over To The Bone's glamourisation of Anorexia


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Having recently come under fire for their portrayal of suicide in their adaptation of Thirteen Reasons Why, Netflix chiefs are now facing a significant backlash over their portrayal of the eating disorder Anorexia in their original film, To The Bone, starring Lily Collins.

To The Bone is due to be released worldwide on 14th July 2017 via Netflix. The film stars Lily Collins as Ellen, a young lady who is sent to a group home to be looked after by her doctor, William Beckham (Keanu Reeves), as she tries to recover from her illness.

The film, which premiered earlier this year at Sundance Film Festival, has already attracted a variety of comments and criticicism over how faithful and realistic the portrayal of the illness actually is.

Some critics have been wholly stark in their negativity, summising the project as 'A pretty, middle class, white girl has an illness that requires her to spend some time being looked after by a sexy alternative therapist.'

The film has also attracted negative publicity from a number of young people's mental health charities, over concerns about how it might act as a 'thinspiration'.

Most damningly, Australia's top psychologists are labelling the film as a "manual" for eating disorders worldwide. Leading the backlash is Butterfly Foundation Chief Christine Morgan, who warned the film may serve as copycat material for impressionable young people worldwide.

Ms. Morgan said: “We know that images of people who are seriously ill with an eating disorder are powerful triggers. We also know that these images can inspire copycat behaviour, especially for those suffering with Anorexia Nervosa.”

She continued: “Netflix’s To The Bone hasn’t understood this fact, and hasn’t acted responsibly.”

Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg also commented on the matter, noting: “Eating disorders are the biggest killers out of any psychiatric illness for young people so we really don’t need this.”

He also expressed scepticism over the perceived "moral compass" of the American streaming giants, following the recent announcement of a second season of Thirteen Reasons Why

Despite this, not everyone is taking a negative stance on the Marti Noxon film. The director is herself bullish on the project, taking a stance that the disorder needs to be spoken about and not treated as an elephant in the room, as only then will sufferers truly start to recover and move on. 

Some journalists, including Frances Coleman-Williams, who has herself faced an eating disorder for a number of years, have sprung to the film's defence, praising the fact that "Ellen looks grey and gaunt (in some scenes) and excessive exercise takes a toll on her body, causing bruising and causing her to faint." 

Despite this brief respite, Netflix bosses must be concerned about the general perception of their more controversial programmes. Having already been accused of glamourising the concept of suicide in Thirteen Reasons Why, they must know they will need to tread carefully when exploring a topic as delicate as anorexia, not shying away from the more scary elements and thus giving it the justice it requires on-screen.

By doing this, however, they must not in turn create a hypothetical portrayal of the illness that makes it seem like a short-term pain for a long-turn romantic, sexualised gain, which To The Bone appears dangerously close to converging into.

To The Bone stars Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves and is set to be released worldwide to stream on Netflix from 14th July 2017. Check out the film's trailer below:

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