Project HEAL's Frequently Asked Questions about To The Bone

In light of the extensive social media conversation that’s happening, we wanted to provide some information on eating disorders, and share why we chose to get involved with the film.

We will continue to stay close to the issue to make sure that this opportunity to educate and create genuine understanding of this misunderstood condition serves the wellbeing of people suffering from eating disorders and those who may be developing them.

Why did Project HEAL choose to get involved in this film?

To the Bone is the first major motion picture on eating disorders and has the potential to finally stimulate conversation amongst a wide audience on the topic of eating disorders - the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and under-recognized of all mental illnesses. We wanted to be part of this conversation to educate the public, and ultimately drive greater awareness and understanding.

Despite affecting an estimated 10% of the population and having the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, too many people misunderstand these disorders. To The Bone sheds light on the severity and complexity of eating disorders —capturing the impact of these perplexing illnesses on both patient and family—while emphasizing that recovery is possible.

The goal of this movie has always been to educate the broader public, and tell the real story of one person who struggled with an eating disorder. No two stories are alike and there are many stories that  need to be shared. The amazing conversation and awareness that To the Bone has already generated will help us to do just that

Does this film promote the misconception that eating disorders only affect thin, white girls?

While the trailer highlights Ellen’s story (a young, white, underweight woman with anorexia nervosa), the full film does a great job of highlighting the diversity of people who suffer from eating disorders  - showcasing different diagnoses, body sizes, genders, and ethnicities.  Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses. Many people with eating disorders look healthy yet may be extremely ill.

Is this film triggering to eating disorder sufferers?

This film may have the potential to negatively affect those who are struggling with eating disorders.  We recommend carefully evaluating where you are in recovery before deciding to view this film.  Here is a note from our cofounder, Kristina:“Eating disorder recovery was the most challenging journey in my life, and in the early stages, I was triggered by many things—friends from treatment, diet talk amongst peers, stepping into a gym, and seeing very underweight people. I had to understand where I was in my journey and avoid those triggers. As I progressed in recovery, I was able to be around those triggers, and now, facing them solidifies how strong I am in recovery and how I never want to go back. I hope that our community can keep this perspective in mind when carefully evaluating whether to view this film.”

The main character lost weight for the film.  Do you support this decision?

We in no way intend to endorse the idea that people with anorexia nervosa can lose weight safely. This was a creative decision on the filmmakers’ part, and filming was completed before Project HEAL got involved in the film.

There is strong research showing that getting into a state of negative energy balance and/or losing weight can make people who have struggled with anorexia nervosa much more prone to a relapse. The weight loss aspect is not something that Project HEAL supports.

However, we are aware that while the actress chose to lose weight for the role, In order to achieve the image you see on screen, the filmmakers employed visual effects, special effects make up, a body double and particular wardrobe choices.

How to talk to someone who might be struggling from an eating disorder about this movie:

Knowing how to listen and respond to someone who thinks they may be struggling with an eating disorder is important.  Listen openly, and do not judge them.  Do not comment on their weight or appearance.  Be caring and kind.  Offer to go with them to a healthcare provider to seek help.  Remind them that you are there to support them.

Is the treatment used in the movie typical for patients with eating disorders?

This film is not a how-to manual for treatment. It is a story inspired by one woman’s (writer/director Marti Noxon) experience with this disease. Elements of the treatment outlined by the psychiatrist portrayed by Keanu Reeves, and those shown in the treatment facility are typical but others are not. For example, the need for medical monitoring and regular weight measurement is typical in many treatment programs, but the meal plan portrayed in the movie where patients are permitted to eat whatever they like is unusual. The film clearly includes the message that health is associated with normal eating behaviors and the maintenance of healthy weights, but uses some artistic license in its description of the interventions that help the main character achieve readiness for change. Project HEAL does not endorse one treatment protocol over another, and would never suggest that an individual affected by an eating disorder receive treatment recommendations from a feature film.

Was Project HEAL paid to endorse this film?

Project HEAL is supporting this film to further our mission of raising awareness of eating disorders and advocating for access to quality treatment, prevention and support.  We are not being paid.

What is important to know about eating disorders?

In 2016, the Academy for Eating Disorders and a number of prominent eating disorder organizations published the 9 Truths About Eating Disorders:

  • Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
  • Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
  • Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
  • Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
  • Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
  • Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
  • Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
  • Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
  • Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.

How can press responsibly cover this film in the media?

Please visit NEDA’s guide for responsible media coverage:

Where can I seek help?

The NEDA Helpline is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET. You may reach the Helpline at 800-31-2237.

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For crisis situations, text "NEDA" to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line 24/7

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