Anorexia film sparks fears

Trigger effect: Narellan psychologist Madalyn McCormack is concerned To The Bone could have a detrimental effect on vulnerable people. Picture: Netflix

Trigger effect: Narellan psychologist Madalyn McCormack is concerned To The Bone could have a detrimental effect on vulnerable people. Picture: Netflix

Anorexia nervosa is a serious illness facing many youths and adults in Australian society and Narellan psychologist Madalyn McCormack feels a new Netflix film could act as a ‘trigger’ to vulnerable people.

The Netflix original film To the Bone deals with a young woman, played by Lily Collins, who battles anorexia and seeks help from an unconventional doctor.

The film, which will premiere on the streaming service on July 14, has already sparked widespread concern from mental health organisations including Headspace Australia and the Butterfly Foundation.

Mrs McCormack, a Positive Affect psychologist with a special interest in eating disorders, shares their concerns that the film could “glamourise” eating disorders and “over-simply’ the intricacies of anorexia.

“The film is not available for viewing just yet but I have concerns just from the trailer,” she said.

“It features a lot of triggers including counting calories, lots of numbers and a girl exercising in secret.

“These sorts of graphic representations can definitely be triggers for people currently suffering eating disorders or vulnerable to them.”

Mrs McCormack said the accessibility of the film on Netflix was concerning, as it was a platform frequently used by teens, who are among the people most susceptible to developing eating disorders.

She was also troubled by the fact Collins – who has herself suffered from eating disorders in the past – lost weight for the role.

“I have read that she lost weight with the help of a nutritionist but I would question how dropping weight like that could not lead to other consequences, both mental and physical, for someone who has struggled with an eating disorder before,” Mrs McCormack said.

The psychologist questioned the place of films dealing with eating disorders.

“I think it is very difficult to develop a film based on fiction, and ultimately for entertainment purposes, that doesn't have the potential to be triggering and accurately portrays the reality of life with an eating disorder,” she said.

Mrs McCormack said anyone who viewed To The Bone and found it to be a trigger should seek help a professional psychologist.

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