Eating disorders affect millions of people worldwide, especially in developed countries. As many as five million people in the United States and more than 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
Last weekend, I had the chance to watch a HBO documentary, THIN, at friend’s place. She got the DVD from her cousin sister studying in the US. The film is good. But, don’t expect it to be another Hollywood production. It is not a movie.
I did some reading about the documentary. Photographer Lauren Greenfield went inside a Florida treatment center to tell the stories of patients who are literally dying to be thin. This HBO documentary highlighted the stories of four women between ages 15 and 30 who are undergoing treatment for the illness. Lauren Greenfield reveals what she discovered there and share with the audience the issues underlying the patients’ illness.
Living at the center for six months, Greenfield has earned the patients’ trust to spend her time with them. She was given access to the meetings, therapy sessions and she even tried out meals that make up daily life for those undergoing treatment. Greenfield conducted interviews and she has taken many photographs to put up the film.
In the film, you will watch their daily lives – from early-morning weight checks, to emotionally draining meal times, to tearful therapy sessions, as well as tense encounters with staff and family members. While some fought for recovery with great strides, others would sabotage their own treatment by hiding or purging food. One could not help but to shed tears seeing the patients go through another trauma when they discover that their insurance would not cover the long-term care they need to truly recover. Patients are forced to leave when the insurance company is no longer paying.
Look at the title of the DVD – THIN, If It Takes Dying to Get There, So Be It. One of the patients in the film has actually mentioned that death is a better option than being fat. It is an extreme thought.
THIN is just not another typical documentary film. It is an emotional journey showing the world of eating disorders. One should watch it to understand how much it has affected the person and family members. The issues of food, body image, self-esteem, cultural and mental health concerns are discussed. When I watched the scenes showing the fragile bodies of these women, I could feel the pain the patients are having. It is such a powerful new insight into a frightening open secrets. I am not let down without a typical movie happy ending. After all, it is a documentary.
So raw yet so touching.
So sad yet so truthful.
Being a guy, I may not have connected with these girls as much as ladies or other people struggling with these conditions, but the visual images still got into my mind. The footage has a lot of vulgar language, views of patients throwing up, women’s scarred bodies both from self-mutilation and from suicide attempts. It clearly shows the destructive nature of eating disorder, both mentally and physically.No, it is not just a group of thin girls talking about wanting to be thinner, but how they went through one of the most difficult times together.
I highly recommend this documentary, THIN, for people who are interested in learning more about eating disorders. For more information on THIN documentary at Amazon, go here.
As for those who prefer to read, it does have a book version, but nothing beats the documentary. You can check out the book here.
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