For her role in the Netflix movie “To the Bone,” actress Lilly Collins had to lose a significant amount of weight from her already-thin frame.
The starlet, who has been open about her history with eating disorders, signed on to the film in order to shed light on the private struggles people suffering from anorexia face. One such problem is well-meaning loved ones tacitly encouraging disordered behavior by praising the weight loss.
For Collins, life imitated art.
In an interview with People Magazine, she had this to say:
I was leaving my apartment one day and someone I’ve known for a long time, my mom’s age, said to me, ‘Oh, wow, look at you!’ I tried to explain [I had lost weight for a role] and she goes, ‘No! I want to know what you’re doing, you look great!’ I got into the car with my mom and said, ‘That is why the problem exists.’
I couldn’t agree with Lilly Collins more. You see, from the ages of 10-19, I suffered from both anorexia and bulimia. It was a long and arduous road to recovery, and unfortunately, at 25, I relapsed.
That’s when the compliments started rushing in.
“You look fantastic!”
“Tell me your weight-loss secrets!”
“I wish I could be as thin as you are!”
Do you really? I thought to myself.
Do you really want to eat your last meal of the day at 11 am and watch your hair fall out and constantly feel freezing because you’re damaging your body’s ability to properly thermo-regulate?
Sudden, drastic weight loss is a medical concern, not a cause for celebration. When we praise women for it, it only reinforces unhealthy standards.
Oh, how I wished just one person would have asked me if I was ok or if I had anything worrisome on my mind. But no. In this society, we care more about how thin a woman is than her well-being.
And it’s bullshit.
If you agree but don’t know where to start, here are a few helpful conversations you can have with someone who has gone through a sudden weight loss.
Rather than saying, “Wow, I’m so impressed!” try, “What’s going on in your world lately? How are you coping these days?”
Rather than saying, “Girl, you are looking hot!” try, “I’m sure people have noticed you’ve lost weight. Has anyone asked you about your stress level? It’s so easy to channel our anxiety through our food intake.”
Rather than saying, “What size are you now?” try, “Are you doing ok? Anything on your mind?”
Maybe you’ll have a friend with an honest-to-God miracle weight loss who is just living her best life. But perhaps, in asking the right questions, you’ll be the only ally to a suffering anorexic in a sea of eating disorder reinforcement praise.
Either way, it is important to have these conversations.
I applaud Collins for starting this conversation with her work in “To the Bone.”