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Netflix’s ‘To the Bone’ could trigger anorexia, critics say

Lily Collins stars in

Lily Collins stars in "To The Bone," coming to Netflix on July 14. Credit: Netflix / Gilles Mingasson

The trailer for the new Netflix movie “To The Bone” has generated concern among some mental health professionals that viewing the movie — due to be released July 14 — may trigger vulnerable kids to imitate anorexic behaviors.

The 2-minute-and-24-second preview has been viewed more than 1.7 million times online, and it shows, for instance, the main character tallying up calories on her dinner plate and bonding with others at a residential treatment facility. Some professionals worry about how the film itself will portray the disorder as a whole to viewers.

“It could portray eating disorders as something that’s glamorous, and they could see it like a positive thing rather than a negative thing,” says Carter Barnhart of Manhattan, who is on the board of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals and is national director of referral relations at Newport Academy, with teen mental health facilities in Connecticut and California.

On the other hand, “one of the ways that people recognize a disorder is by seeing symptoms,” says Fugen Neziroglu, director of Great Neck’s Bio-Behavioral Institute, a clinic for body image and eating disorders. So those watching may realize friends or family members doing the same things need professional help.

Netflix describes “To The Bone” this way: “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.” It stars Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves, and it’s written and directed by Marti Noxon, who has said that she battled anorexia and bulimia for 10 years from age 14 on.

Barnhart says she hopes Netflix will provide sufficient resources where viewers could turn for help if they, too, are suffering from an eating disorder.

This newest Netflix concern comes on the heels of mental health professionals’ issues with the March 31 release of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” the story of a high school student who commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tapes that outline each person who contributed to her deciding to end her life.


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