Friday, January 30, 2015

Eating disorder movies

I find that all eating disorder movies make me mad.
The basic plot of all of them is you have a white girl (very rarely a boy), who is either under a lot of stress and pressure, or has had major changes in her life. They then fall into the trap of an eating disorder. Very often, this happens with a friend. Although I know have many friends with eating disorders, none of them encourage me to get worse or to purge, and I didn't meet any of them until after suffering in silence for four years. This, I find, is problem number 1. 'Starving in Suburbia' gets it slightly better as the protagonist got more distant from her old friends and closer to her online friends. However, in my experience, people who suffer from eating disorders are very isolated and turn to 'pro-ana' sites after. (Read my explanation of the pro-ana community here). Having eating disorders don't put you in a special club. They're awful, isolating, and aren't fun to have.
Then of course, all the movies end in one of two ways, and they usually end in both. Either the patient makes full recovery/ is in recovery and doing well, or they die. I know that at the end of the day, these are the two options. However, they don't happen within a few months. Many people will suffer from an eating disorder for a very long time, and die earlier than they would have otherwise due to heart, liver or kidney failure. Or patients relapse (more than once or twice) and spend and average of 7 years in recovery. 7 years. This means that the eating disorder is part of their lives for more than the 6 months shown in the movie.
My last problem with these movies is the weight change and stereotypes. It doesn't happen that quickly. Some bulimics lose weight, some gain. Some anorexics lose weight quickly, others more slowly. Anorexia b/p subtype is an eating disorder. So is night eating, orthorexia, purging disorder, binge eating disorder, atypical anorexia and atypical bulimia to name a few.

Honestly if I had to pick my favorite eating disorder movie it would be 'Black Swan'. It's a story about a women's downfall in the ballet world, and she seems to have eating disorder symptoms. Her downfall much more accurately describes (in my opinion) the downfall of someone with an ED. Marya Hornbacher's book 'Wasted' also gives a very honest portrayal of an eating disorder. Yes it's longer than a movie. Because the story of an eating disorder is longer than a movie. She talks about times she was doing better, times she was doing worse, her complicated relationship with her family and her drive to be successful. They all play a component in an eating disorder.

Of course, everyone's experience with an eating disorder is different. However I have yet to find a movie that accurately represents anything similar to what I'm going through.


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