To The Bone Netflix Movie Review

The Netflix film To The Bone is a drama that brings attention to the problem of eating disorders.

Nearly every book or movie about an eating disorder can be triggering for those who struggle with these issues. Use common sense and caution if this is a problem for you or your family member.

In To The Bone, the main character, Ellen, is given one last chance to get herself together. Her stepmother has enrolled her in an unconventional away from home treatment program.

Ellen has a love interest, a quirky male ballet dancer, Luke, who is also at the treatment center for anorexia. To fill out the group at the center, there are a few other anorexic girls and one binge eater. Ellen’s family life is complicated. She lives with her father, stepmother, Susan, and half-sister, Liana. The only good relationship that Ellen seems to have among her family members is with her half-sister. The father is never seen onscreen, leaving his wife to handle Ellen and her problems. Ellen’s mother, Judy,  lives in another city with her partner, Olive.

I felt the setup for the movie  was a bit stereotypical. The main character is a white female with obvious family issues and plenty of money to spend on treatment centers. Eating disorders affect people from all walks of life and this film did not represent those people. Even so, this movie is useful to educate in an entertaining way. The characters caught my attention and kept it to the end. I was left wanting to know more of their stories.

I liked the dark humor and the drama keep me watching. In the scene where her half sister asked Ellen to play a game, guessing the total calorie count on the plate without looking it up I had a bit of a flashback. During my junior high days and beyond, counting calories was a given for most girls as it is today. If think about it, I can still easily tally calories. I felt a certain affinity with her when she kept feeling her arm to see if her fingers would reach around for forearm. Did you do that in junior high?

Today, recognizing an eating disorder as an addiction may be a common reaction, but that was not the case when I was a teen and young adult. To The Bone draws attention to this problem and  attempts to broaden our understanding.

To The Bone takes us through a small part of one person’s journey. In the end, Ellen gathers her courage, surrenders, and takes charge of her own healing, and recognizes that she is never really alone. We are  left rooting for Ellen  to be successful in her quest for healing and health. There is a romantic element left unresolved as well, although the film ends on a note of hope. If To The Bone was made into a series I would want to check it out.

As a young girl and teen I had my own struggles with image and weight, alternately denying myself food and binging. I couldn’t starve out the pain, or cover it with fat. By the grace of God I found people who helped me find acceptance and emotional healing before it could develop into something worse. According to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders approximately eight million people suffer with eating disorders. I’m not sure what the answer is, but pretending it doesn’t exist will certainly not help anyone.

Maybe, for your family, Netflix’s To The Bone can be a starting point to begin an important conversation.

This film is rated MA for mature audiences. If your teen is watching this film, I recommend you watch it with them and talk about the topic.

Contains profanity, irreverent humor, smoking, eating disorders, alcohol, family issues.

It was disturbing to think that Lily Collins, who plays Ellen and has an eating disorder herself, had lost weight for this role.  She talks about the weight loss for her role in this interview.

 

If you or someone you love has an eating disorder you can get help at or help at the National Eating Disorders website here or call the National Eating Disorders Helpline at (800) 931-2237.

Watch the trailer for Netflix’s To The Bone.

Did you watch? What did you think? Do you have any other films or books on eating disorders you recommend?

 

How to Talk With Teens About 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is the Netflix special everyone is talking about. The series is rated MA for mature audiences and explores suicide, bullying, sexual assault, and many other serious topics teens and young adults face. The series contains graphic depictions in some episodes. I have not read the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher yet, but it is my understanding that the book is significantly different. This post is about the Netflix series.

I searched for a discussion guide to go with the Netflix series but I am disturbed to find some had the tendency to minimize the issues. I found an excellent list of talking points to start meaningful discussion from the JED Foundation and provided that link below.

If you have any suggestions to add to my list, please put them in the comment section.

It seems a common thread among some of the people who discuss the series often include an element of denial. Instead of closing our eyes, perhaps a better way to address the issues brought up by 13 Reasons Why is to ask questions, listen, and guide our young people. If your teen or young adult has not watched, I still suggest parents look for ways to bring up the subject matter.

Thirteen Reasons Why is rated MA.

If your teen/young adult has already watched, I strongly suggest you watch each episode, stop, and discuss. Take time to process. This series deals with heavy topics and is emotionally draining.

Advice for Parents

Talking with kids can be hard. Decide what the most important topics are to bring up to your young person and ask questions, letting them do most of the talking. This is a time to offer guidance rather than lecture. Bring the topics up more than once.

I would be very honest with your young people. Perhaps not every person they go to for help will respond appropriately, but most adults are here to help. Sometimes asking once isn’t enough.

Relate a personal story to them if you have one and offer solutions.

Do not minimize your young person’s concerns and experiences.

Ask direct questions.

Talk to them. Not only once, but continually.

Know what they are watching.

I am not a mental health professional. The questions listed below are simply the type that can be used to start a dialog. Each of these suggested questions should lead to many more.

What did you take away from this story?

What do you think this series is about? Is it about more than one thing?(Some young people may miss that this story is driven by Hannah’s revenge against those she feels responsible for her suicide.)

Which of the characters seems the most balanced or healthy emotionally? Why do you think that is?

Are any of the depictions in this series believable? Which ones? Which actions are not?

What behaviors do each of the characters engage in that are questionable or plainly wrong? What should they have done? In this situation, what would you do?

What do you think you would do if you found yourself in some of the situations Hannah does?

How can you decide what secrets should be kept and which should be told? Who should you tell? Why or why not?

What are the signs of suicide? Other emotional issues?

How can you help someone who is suicidal?

How do our actions impact others? How do their actions impact us? How can we deal with that?

Who is the victim in this story? Is there more than one victim?

How does the school depicted compare to your school?

After each episode ask you young person for their takeaway, and what they thought. Examine the ideas put forth. Ask “what did you think” and “why or why not”.

If you seek help and are ignored or denied, what should you do then?

Does this story have a ‘call to action”? What is it?

Extension

What do you think of some of the reactions people have had to 13 Reasons? Can you give examples of appropriate/inappropriate reactions? Explain.

For further reading

Click here for a link to resources on 13 Reasons Why the Netflix Series from the National Association of School Psychologists

Click here for Talking Points from the JED Foundation.

 

Keep talking and discussing books, movies, and issues with your children and young adults.

 

Please add to the discussion by commenting below.

 

Netflix Series Review| 13 Reasons Why

I needed a break from the intense emotions stirred up by my current writing project and decided to take a peek at 13 Reasons Why on Netflix to decompress. This did not exactly work out as planned. 13 Reasons Why  stirs the emotions and I found the story hard to put from my mind.

I debated on whether or not to review it since I don’t usually review television series. At least that’s what I told myself. The truth is, I needed time to recover.

The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher. The book has been on my TBR list for a while, but I have not gotten to it.

Clay Jensen, A teenage boy, receives a box containing thirteen tapes. These were recorded by a girl he had a crush on, Hannah. Hannah committed suicide, and on the tapes she gives her reasons why she killed herself, with each tape naming a person. The Netflix series is divided into thirteen episodes.

I appreciate the series because it draws attention to many of the issues teens face on a daily basis. To an extent, it also echoes the typical high school experience all can relate to. The characters are complicated and the story line pulls you along, but I suggest you give yourself time to process. Don’t slate this one as a continual weekend binge. Take a break between episodes.

I strongly recommend that if your teen wants to watch the series, you watch it with them and discuss the issues. The subject matter will take time to process.

You may want to preview this before you let your teen watch.

This series is rated for mature audiences with depictions of sexual assault and rape, suicide, mental illness, cutting, alcohol abuse, and drugs, language, and depression.

My take away from this series was that we should all be kinder to each other. We are our brother’s keeper regardless of how we try to convince ourselves otherwise. While not all will accept out help, we still need to reach out.

Be the one. The one who is kind. The one who helps. The one who notices.

13 Reasons Why brings up tough issues in addition to teen suicide, and there is talk of a second season.

I’ll be watching.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Why Momma Cries | Beauty From Pain

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When she asks me why I am crying, I can not speak. I send her away with the words all mommas use so often it’s second nature.

“In a minute.”

She has come upon me unexpected, caught me in the grip of a journey’s end emotion.

I redirect her, unable to untangle my thoughts and feelings.

“Don’t you need to get ready for dance?”

She looks at me sideways, then nods. She knows me well and gives me the small moment of peace I need. I know her, too. She will be back in two heartbeats. I breathe.

When she returns, I am ready and not ready.

I start out OK. I tell her how proud I am of her. Half a sentence into the conversation, words have trouble squeezing past my heart. They come out wobbly but march on.

Baby Girl has had hard, hard times. Life is harsh to our young. No one grows up without a heavy dose of pain.

If I had one real come-true wish I would make the world gentle for her, but I can’t. The enemy is often invisible, but the battle scars are there, plain to see. When she lets me.

On this day she is going to rehearse a dance she choreographed to Beauty From Pain. One she will dance on stage in front of the whole world and everyone who is watching. She will dance with all the grace she can muster. She will dance with all she has, speak with movement and make the song sing a new way.

I tell her, “I know what the dance means—I know what this cost you.”

We can’t look at each other in the eye because now is not the time to puddle up.

Instead, I wrap my arms around her and she rests, enveloped. Her hair is in my face. It should be pony tailed or bunned. She needs to get ready. I don’t release her yet. I tell her to make sure she takes a water bottle. An experienced dancer, she does not need this advice at all.

She nods and I let her go.

 

 

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The Lies and Omissions of Teen Girls

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I wanted to write this post because my heart is breaking. Right now, girls are keeping destructive secrets, cutting, starving themselves, engaging in risky behavior, feeling trapped in abusive relationships, bullied and bullying, all right under their parent’s noses. I don’t even know if parents want to know. This post is for the strong of heart who are willing to take stock of their relationship with their daughters.

Teens cover up. They all do it. It doesn’t matter how close a parent is to their teen, deep secrets can end up buried far away from parental eyes and ears. Teen girls always keep a bit of themselves to themselves, and rightly so, but when they are engaging in potentially harmful behavior or need guidance teens need to be able to talk with parents. It’s part of our job as a parent to be available and aware.

Why Teen and Preteen Girls Don’t Talk to Parents

Shame

Even if there is apparent evidence to the contrary, our teens want to please us. If they feel ashamed of the opinions or thoughts they are having and are afraid of being shamed for them, teens will resist letting the parent in. They really do care what parents think, even when the teen disagrees.

Embarrassment

It seems like a teen girl is embarrassed by everything. Discussing intimate feeling or touchy subjects is brutally embarrassing. Did I say teen girls? I still get embarrassed by certain subjects with my mom and a fair amount of time has passed since I was a teen!

Rejection

Fear of rejection keeps us all from sharing our feelings. Who wants to have a heart to heart with someone when there is less than a 100% chance of your feelings being recognized as valid?

How to Get Teens to Talk

Be Honest

No one wants to talk with a hypocrite, and teens tend to operate from a black and white perspective until they gain experience. Teen will call you out on your inconsistencies. Be as honest as possible about your failures. Admit that you don’t know it all, but you are giving them your best advice.

Be Understanding of Your Teen’s Point of View

Teens are full of drama, and it is easy to dismiss conversations that from an adult point of view seem frivolous. Try to remember what it was like to find a place to be in a  confusing world.

Realize that they may be coming from a vastly different place than teens in years past have ever experienced. The first step to seeing from another person’s point of view is to realize they have a different perspective and respecting that perspective. You don’t have to agree with someone to respect their right to have an opinion. Finding a place to relate to each other is key to communication.

Listen Don’t Lecture

As parents it is our job to correct, admonish, and train but jumping in too quickly with advice or even worse, “I told you so” will bring any conversation to a screeching halt. Most of us have already done a fair job of laying down the rules and letting our kids know what we think and believe. Fostering a two way communication is an entirely different scenario. Listening is hard work. Resolve to postpone your input. A big part of communicating is found in quietness.

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Schedule Time to Talk But Talk Outside the Schedule Too

Communication takes time. Building trust takes time. Setting a teen down to ‘have a talk’ is not the same as ongoing dialog that is relationship building. Be deliberate in your pursuit of communication with your children.

All of these suggestions apply to boys as well as girls. While girls tend to talk more, it seems they also keep certain things to themselves.  I do not know if it holds true for all girls, but of all the girls I’ve known, we talk more but hold back more as well. We learn to do this young.

I wrote another post about Raising Conversational Men, but I am not so naive as to think my children tell me everything. The best I can do is to make it crystal clear to them that if and when they want to tell all, tell bits, or tell anything, I am here.

Do you have any tips for getting your teen to talk to you? I’d love to hear from you! Add your comment to the conversation.

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You Are Beloved

It was getting close to bedtime and I prayed with my teen daughter. I asked God to bless her and thanked Him for her. Then I stopped talking and gave the presence of the Holy Spirit room.

When the word came it was fresh even though the words on my lips were as constant and familiar to her as breath.

I cupped her face with both my hands, looking her in the eye. I held her there for a heartbeat before I spoke.

You are His Beloved.

There are things we know to be true with our whole being, but over time we lose clarity. Like the view through a recently cleaned pane of glass on a sunny blue sky day, all of a sudden, we are made newly aware of what we knew to be there all the time. There are words, and then there are Words. Truth comes in a rush and we are once again amazed.

You are His Beloved.

All day, every day, feedback and half-truths tell us what we should be. It is a constant assault. This is not a thing only the young among us struggle against. Knowing we are less-than, we recognize our lack. Faced with this reality, we strive to escape our faulty standing, and forget the larger truth of who we are. Who He says we are.

You are worth everything He paid for you.
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You are worth everything He paid for you. (Tweet This)

The messed up, less than, never to be perfect mess that you are. Even now, when you have failed, failed,failed. Even then, before you knew Him, you were worth everything He paid for you. You still are. Now and then, forever.

You are His Beloved.

My arm around her, I began to sing.

I am His and He is mine
A forever love outlasting time
Jesus loves me He’s my destiny
Jesus loves me He is my destiny

I stopped and asked her, “Do you remember this song?”

It was her baptism song. The song I wrote after she made her profession of faith. Then we sang the song together, she and I. Because it is my song, too.

And the song of all who choose to sing.

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On Raising Conversational Men

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Talk to him.

Never answer “Why?” with “Because I said so.” Explain yourself in concise words. If you don’t know, admit it. If it’s the best you can do, say so. If you are wrong, apologize. (Tweet This)

Talk about everything. Talk about things in the news, and things he likes and things he reads about, and things his friends say and do and about his dreams and yours.

Listen as much as you speak. Never laugh at his opinions. Let him keep his voice. Do not give yours away either, but temper it when he needs you to. Always flavor the conversation with generous doses of love.

Talk about hard things. Those things you’d rather not even think about but expect a man to know. He will not find his way alone, or maybe he will. Maybe he will take another, darker path than the one he should and cause your heart to shatter. The harder it is to speak of it, the more you need to speak of it. Do not wait for him to bring it up. Speak and wait and listen. Let him be quiet when he needs to be. Allow him time to process. Give him room and space to think, so his thoughts can find him.

Then bring it up again.

Teach him to respect all people. Teach him that allowing others to have an opinion does not invalidate his own deeply held convictions.

In time, reveal your fear and your anger. He needs to know you are you and he is himself. He needs to know how to speak, listen, and think. So do you. Let him see your cracked places, without breaking him. A grown up man-child can handle your unwatered, passionate views.

Talk to him often, and rest in the words, and in the inbetween.

Do this.

If you are blessed, one day he will come up beside you and, without thought, steady you with his words, spoken and silent. And you will weep at the kindness of your son.

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