This point is raised often when is a largely unremarkable film, tonally a sort of by-rote American indie Sundance-By-Numbers job, but as films about anorexic women have tended to be more along the lines of Lifetime daytime television, it marks a departure for representation of this illness.
which tells the story of Ellen, a young anorexic woman recovering in a treatment centre.
Marti Noxon, the film’s director, has herself suffered from eating disorders, and so too has the film’s star Lily Collins.
That images of her frail, troubling body have since been widely disseminated as “thinspiration” is horrifying, though unsurprising.
Noxon herself had her eating disorder triggered by the filming experience, saying in one interview: “I started to need to turn to the other female producers quite frequently and say: ‘I’m going to need you to tell me that I don’t need to lose weight’.” But even leaving aside these legitimately worrying points, the film’s stated aims which supposedly justify them are incoherent.
But when I reflect on that entire period now all I sense is a fury which could not articulate itself, which manifested instead in the self-injurious ways I had learned from culture were available as pressure valves, which included starving.
This absence, this loss I was trying to paper over, is not a sexy story – it’s far less sexy, for instance, than the tragic irony of the girl who ostensibly has everything starving to death in the suburbs.
We are all in agreement about how dreadful and tragic it is, but the painful thing about our relationship to eating disorders is that we dramatically fetishise their sadness while overtly rewarding the same mechanisms that facilitate them.
Denial, temperance, self-punishment are all seen as worthy moral endeavours. That its production compelled James, an ED sufferer, to lose a huge amount of weight she did not have to lose is a fairly compelling one.
It is self-evidently wrong that to merely represent the physical outcomes of an illness as complex as anorexia is in itself useful.