“What We Need is Awareness of the Treatment of Anorexia”
Harriet Brown, professor at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is available for comment about “To the Bone,” a new Netflix movie that explores a young woman’s battle with anorexia.
Professor Brown is the author of Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia, a work of both memoir and science journalism.
“One big problem with ‘To the Bone’ and pretty much every other movie or book that’s been made about anorexia is that they can function as how-tos. Many people who are ill with anorexia watch movies like this to find out tricks and tips for staying sick. It’s just the nature of the disease. Certainly having a beautiful actress play a character with anorexia inevitably glamorizes it. And in this case the backstory around the movie—how the actress had anorexia, recovered, and then had to lose weight for the part—just reinforces the idea that thinner is always better,” Brown says.
“One of the arguments for making a movie like this is that it raises awareness. I believe as a culture we are quite aware of anorexia and other eating disorders. What we need to raise awareness of are the effective treatments for these illnesses, not the nitty-gritty details of symptoms. So as both an expert on eating disorders and as the mother of a young woman who suffered with anorexia for 8 years, I wish movies like this were not made. Girls (and boys) will compare themselves to the main character, and some of them will inevitably do what she does in the movie to try to make themselves thinner. And sicker,” Brown says.
Brown helped organize Syracuse University’s first-ever symposium on body image in 2010. She also founded Project BodyTalk, a Web-based oral history project that invites people to record commentaries on the subjects of food, eating and body image.
Professor Brown is available to speak to media and can be interviewed via email/phone/Skype/LTN studio. Contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of news and public relations at Syracuse University, at 315.443.1897 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Wendy Loughlin, director of communications at Newhouse, at 315.443.2785 or email@example.com, to arrange an interview.