I’ve recently seen “To The Bone”, a movie where Lily Collins plays an anorexic girl named Ellen. One of the moments that stood out to me was when one of the other girls said to Ellen after coming back to the house where girls with eating disorders were receiving treatment. She had just seen a movie featuring Emma Stone apparently.
“Emma Stone’s kinda fat, don’t you think?”
“Oh, no,” Ellen replied, “I think she’s just big boned”.
The other character insisted, “She’s, like, at least a size six”.
I honestly couldn’t think of a slimmer actress myself, but it got me thinking…
A few days before the release of “To The Bone” I saw the trailer and I was shocked at how thin Lily Collins looked. I was curious if it was CGI or if she really did lose all that weight. Slightly concerned I typed in “Lily Collins weight loss” into google images and clicked on the first image that came up. It was by a website that shall remain unnamed because I don’t want to encourage traffic to this site (although I’m well aware that you could just do the search yourself). I went to their forum and starting reading the thread that hosted this image. Pictures of Lily Collins at varying weights were all over the page. All looking within a healthy BMI with the exception of some incredibly skinny images of her. Those I imagine were a low BMI and at the very least teetering on the outside of the healthy range. When I read the comments I was shocked.
In all her pictures she looked like a very slim girl, but I was reading comments like “yuck look how fat she looks” and “she looks so much better here”. I looked at the picture where she looked “better”. In my opinion she looked painfully thin and extremely pale and uncomfortable in her own skin.
Here are some comments that I found on the site:
These are the pictures that these girls were criticizing:
In a world that I thought was embracing body positivity I was shocked that this website existed: A website so full of hate towards “normal” looking people and praising extreme weight loss and extremely underweight people. The comments made my heart sink.
At first I got angry at the people who would create this website and sent them an angry email, but then I sat down and thought about it. And based on my own experience I could understand their error in thinking. Although I was never that extreme about it, at one time had been judgmental towards other women’s weight. I know that this kind of thinking stems from your own self-hatred. And to be honest it’s quite sad.
I have struggled with my own bought of body dysmorphia and eating disorders, albeit a short time in my life. Even though the extreme behavior was short lived, I still restricted myself of calories and nutrients for years.
Making decisions like this: if I just have this shake and nothing else for the day I will have the calories I need without gaining weight and still get to eat what I want. That was the logic anyway. While the focus on counting calories helped keep the weight off my naturally slow metabolism for a time, I was completely oblivious to the idea that your body needs nutrients in my years of obsessive calorie counting. During this time I had a completely normal BMI. I didn’t look skinny, slender maybe but never skinny.
No one could tell that I had anorexic tendencies just by looking at me. In the end, the fight against my slow metabolism ended badly. I ended up sick and overweight anyway. I learned (the hard way) that if you don’t have a nutrient rich, balanced diet your body will rebel on you.
I now have a chronic illness, and while I know my few years of chaotic eating habits didn’t cause it (Lyme disease), I know it was a huge contributing factor in the overall downfall of my health. I think part of what had offended me so much about this website is that these women are gambling with their health and shaming other women into doing the same.
Now that I am sick and desperately trying to heal, I am disgusted when other people throw away their health because their biggest aspiration is to be skinny, or lose 3 pounds…
I’ve learned to love my curves and embrace eating healthfully. I don’t eat any junk food and I eat a very clean diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Even with a near perfect diet and reasonable potions my body still wants to hold on to the extra fat. That’s ok with me now. Now that I have a much better understanding of health I realize that as I detox my body and make my goal to be healthy, my weight will balance out to what it should be.
Part of the healing process for me was to realize that your body is a vessel made for more than just how you look. Shocking revelation, right? It seems quite obvious now, but when you’re surrounded constant messages telling women what is beautiful and sexy, it is a natural response for women to emulate the current beauty standard because it is quite literally psychologically designed to make us dissatisfied with how we look so we buy their products. How else would they make money?
I think this is especially relevant to women because our worth is often entangled with being pretty and sexually desirable. Not saying that men don’t struggle with it too but it seems to affect women in a different and more inextricable way. But it’s not all we are, even though from the time we are a child every magazine, commercial, and ad tells us that is what makes up our worth; and it’s our only way to be truly happy. But it’s a lie isn’t it?
I found myself wanting to yell into computer screen as if these women could hear me, “Your body is meant for much more than how you look, it is meant for you to live! To be productive and do something meaningful for your time here on earth!”
Over the last several years I’ve thought deeply over what led to my body dysmorphia and why I’ve never really ever felt pretty enough or even normal looking. And I’ve realized several contributing factors which has in part inspired me to start my YouTube channel and blog. In my healing I’ve formed a lot of opinions about the culture around me that in part helped to form those wrong opinions of myself. I will address these in another post and video later.
After a little bit of research I found that Lily Collins did indeed lose weight for the role of “To The Bone” with the help of a nutritionist, but she was no where as skinny as she was in her “better” looking picture according to the members of the site. Apparently she had been anorexic for a time which would explain the skeleton like picture that was being glorified on the site. In an interview Lily Collins explained that while losing weight to play the troubled anorexic in “To The Bone” she had received a comment from a family friend, saying that she had looked fantastic and asked her what she was doing to lose the weight. Responses like that, Lily Collins said, was the reason this problem still exists. And websites that encourage this kind of self-hatred and health sacrificing behavior is another example of people perpetuating the problem.
During my most slender days when I was restricting calories the most, I got nothing but compliments from people. People said I looked great, that I looked a “lot better” than before. While these comments may have been well-meaning, they were a huge part of how my calories restriction spiraled out of control for a while, and led to an even further downward spiral of my health.
Those comments were addicting. It felt good to be praised and thought of as beautiful when so much of my life I felt like the derpiest puffy doufous that could ever exist.
When the focus of your efforts to lose weight are about your looks more than your health (even if you can stand to lose some weight), you’re playing a dangerous game.
I read a blog post from the author of the body shaming site and she describes being skinny shamed for years. She explains that this website is a response to our indulged culture with obesity on the rise. I can see how it is a traumatized reaction to skinny shaming and the rise of obesity but what the author doesn’t realize is that her website will accomplish exactly the opposite of what she wants: more skinny shaming and obesity. I will explain this more in depth in my upcoming beauty standard article where I will talk about how the beauty standards have changed through the years and what is the driving force behind them. But for now let me give one example why this kind of website will never affect the issue of obesity in a positive way:
Say for example, you are obese, and you are disgusted with yourself. The way you look, the way people treat you. Your motivation for weight loss is self-hatred, not self love. Self hating based motivation will be an unsustainable motivation for weight loss and true health (self-hatred usually leads people to binge on what feels good as another form of hating yourself and abusing your body). In the long run, you will end up unhealthier than before because your mind isn’t in the right place.
Without positive motivating factors, you can experience temporary success, but long-term self-sabotage.
You must love your body, soul, and mind and understand your invaluable self worth. You are literally affecting your cells with what you think. Negative thinking leads to death and disease. Positive thinking leads to vitality and healing. Only with a positive attitude towards yourself will you feed your body good, nutritious food. You will exercise because it feels good to increase your circulation and be healthy. You will revel in your new-found strength and you will be delighted when not only can you fit into smaller clothes, but you will look good in those clothes. This will be a possibility not when you are disgusted with how you look but when you’re dissatisfied with a lower state of health because you deserve better. Not because other people disapprove of you or because your self worth is in the gutter because society treats you differently. You do it for you, your health, your desire for a vibrant life. You don’t do it for anyone else, or even to please your own beauty standard that has been conditioned into your brain.
If the supreme motive isn’t health and vitality, it’s time to take a break, spend some time with yourself and peel back the layers that have lead you to your lack of self-worth. Learn to treat yourself and body with compassion.
If you are truly deemed overweight by a doctor, (not just in your own perception), consider that your body is holding on to the fat because either your body is sick (more on that in future posts) or your mind is sick (leading you to overeat). Sick people deserve compassion not hate. So get to the root of it, and experience vitality and health.
Not everyone is as lucky to have even decent health. Protect it before it’s too late. You are beautiful and absolutely worth it.