Weighing in on the issue..

We all know that Netflix is not afraid to push boundaries and air controversy. It seems their new film To the Bone is picking up where 13 Reasons Why left off by bringing an important issue to light but perhaps not doing it in an appropriate and respectful way.

According to the CEO of The Butterfly Foundation the movie may promote “copycat behaviour” and that the graphic nature of images in the movie were potential triggers for those with an eating disorder. Additionally the stigma of the disorder means that many who are impacted by this mental illness do not seek support or treatment. While some argue that films such as this break down that stigma, it is crucial that we are responsible and respectful to those who have lived experience of this condition. This movie is accessible easily to a wide range of audiences and was released just in time for uni holidays! This has meant that the movie has slipped into peoples’ lives without the opportunity for many of us working within mental health to be aware of it or respond with appropriate support details.

So let’s rectify that in today’s blog post. Hack published a great piece a couple of weeks ago in regards to supporting loved ones with an eating disorder. I have included some of these strategies below, along with some others that may be of assistance if you are looking for more information.

  • If you already know that your friend or family member has an eating disorder then do some research yourself and understand the actual facts rather than the myths of eating disorders.
  • Choose the right time to talk. This is true of talking to anyone about a mental health illness. Make it as private and safe as possible, use normal cues to frame the conversation.
  • And when you talk to them be prepared to listen and not give advice. See what they know about support options by asking them and provide these to them if they are open to this information.
  • Be truthful. That doesn’t mean being hurtful but don’t glamorise the impact that the disorder is having on the person’s physical appearance.
  • If the person is defensive about talking or in denial then be respectful. Don’t give up and think that you can’t try again at a different time or that even trying might be enough to bring the person back to the topic when they are ready.
  • That being said you might not be the right person to have the conversation with them and so letting them know that they can talk to their GP about it or if they are a student at UON they could see a Student Support Advisor–Health and Welfare to talk about their options for support.
  • People with eating disorders often feel isolated and alone so stay connected with them and encourage them to be involved in your activities and invitations. Support is sometimes not talking about something, so don’t feel you cannot stay friends with someone if they are not ready to talk to you about their mental health.

Of course there is more information and tips available on The Butterfly Foundation tip sheet if you want to know more. Or you can contact The Butterfly Foundation Support Line on 1800334673.

Finally, I would like to leave you with this video from The Butterfly Foundation about the importance of positive body talk for everyone!



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The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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