Between the Netflix shows "13 Ways to Die" and "To the Bone," I say enough is enough. I try to keep my opinions to myself in a public forum because we all have different viewpoints but I feel so strongly about the media's utter disregard for human emotions that I feel an overwhelming need to express my feelings about this.
As a writer, my characters are flawed, like every human being they are imperfect with real emotions, fears, and self-doubt. With that being said, I feel morally obligated when putting pen to paper to have my characters go through the trials and tribulations of life without giving up and with finding happy and healthy resolutions to their internal conflicts.
Shouldn't the media do the same thing, especially when targeting a young and impressionable audience? I didn't allow my teenage daughter to watch either of those two shows because I see no point in her viewing them. Why, so they can create negative food for thought?
I chose to watch "To the Bone," since one of my heroines does in fact suffer from an eating disorder. I took special care to portray her in a positive light, someone others who might be struggling could look up to, one who is making every effort to make healthy decisions and move forward but not without facing challenges, because that wouldn't be realistic. I also made sure to provide information at the end of the book on how those suffering, like my heroine did, could get help if they need it. Eating disorders are not a joke. They have the highest mortality rates of all mental disorders. I do my research. Does Hollywood?
The fact Hollywood hired an actress who herself is in recovery and allowed her to drop down to an unhealthy weight is devastating to me. It would be the same thing as an alcoholic who has been sober portraying an alcoholic in a film but instead of drinking colored water, the director gives the person real alcohol to consume during filming, then when finished says, "Cut," and off goes the actor. Good luck to that actor and past sobriety. Anyone who suffers from addiction knows abstinence is key.
So then why is it different in the case of "To the Bone?" And if the show's intent was to create awareness, why didn't the producers include information to help those in need? Sure, they put a warning at the beginning of the movie, stating that behaviors depicted in the film may be triggering to some viewers but what about a resource for those in need?
I sigh heavily as I write this. In awe.
I'd say both "13 Ways to Die" and "To The Bone" only provide viewers with ideas on how to engage in self-destructive behaviors. The only benefit to "To The Bone" that I see is that is can possibly create a conversation for those willing to admit or discuss they might have a problem with an eating disorder and possible awareness in the community as to the severity of the disorder - even though the film didn't discuss it in great detail.
I say, sure, let's create awareness about topics that are important but can we do so in a less damaging way, especially to teens who are learning about and questioning themselves and their self-worth to begin with.
Let's put out the message that we are enough, all of us, young and old, big and small, tall and short, and that everyone is flawed, and that it's perfectly okay to need and ask for help. There's no shame in being imperfect. We all are.