In Netflix's To the Bone, which premieres next month, Lily Collins plays Ellen, a woman with anorexia. It's a role that takes on a personal feel for the actress — she herself has suffered from an eating disorder in the past.
Collins opened up about her experience, and how her eating disorder affected her acting pursuits, in the latest issue of Net-A-Porter's magazine, The Edit. The eye-opening interview was conducted by Marti Noxon, To The Bone's writer and director. Noxon, too, has suffered from an eating disorder in the past.
"When I went through my eating disorder, I never sought medical assistance," Collins told Noxon of her experience with disordered eating. "I created myths in my head about how I should get through things, so the idea that I could surround myself with truth and feel comfortable enough to speak mine allowed me to breathe. There's a scene in the film when we're in group therapy talking about the euphoria we experience — I'd never heard that weird enjoyment we feel from being in the disorder worded that way before — and in that moment, you caught Lily understanding it as opposed to just Ellen, my character."
Collins also told Noxon that while she was doing press for her 2016 film Rules Don't Apply, some magazines said she was too thin to be featured in the publications, even though her weight loss was for a film role. "It hit me — 'Oh, this is going to majorly f*** with your career now, not just your health," the actress said in the interview.
Noxon also noted in the interview that To the Bone is, to her knowledge, the first feature film "about a person with an eating disorder." The director also pointed to a statistic that one in three women suffer from disordered eating.
Collins also said that comments we might think are well-meaning, like when people asked about her weight loss, can be harmful. She recounted one woman who emphasized how "great" she looked, not knowing the actress' history with disordered eating. (Gabourey Sidibe shared a similar sentiment in a recent interview with Refinery29, saying it "annoys" her when people congratulate her on losing weight.)
You can read Noxon's powerful conversation with Collins in full over at Net-a-Porter.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
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