Thursday, March 27, 2008

media review: thin.

by lauren greenfield

"i just want to be thin. so, if it takes dying to get there, so be it. at least i'll get there."

when THIN came out in 2oo6, there were only 5 million documented cases of eating disorders in the united states, as opposed to the 8 millon that are now known of. i, myself, had just become one of the documented cases, and was so excited to see a movie was coming out that related to everything that had come crashing down on me. however, we no longer had HBO by that point in time and i missed out, aside from hearing all about it from the rest of my community.

the things i had been hearing were that it was undeniably triggering; that it was focused more on insurance facts than anything; that it portrayed eating disorder patients as purely dishonest and conniving girls. i was upset with lauren greenfield based on all of these reviews given to me by the other patients in my programs, which was obviously unfair of me. (my apologies, lauren.)

before all else, i would like to express my great concern for anyone who is still in mental recovery from an eating disorder to watch this film. frequently, exact weights are shown, there are many detailed shots of body frames and healing, self-inflicted wounds, and - on top of specific behaviors being discussed - 2 of the girls were shot while using behaviors. it can easily be extremely triggering (as many patients have told me they were triggered while watching this). please, please use your best judgement before viewing.

THIN is certainly a very honest and no-holds-barred documentary. i do think that lauren did a phenomenal job capturing life on the eating disorder unit. more than anything, i was frustrated with the way some things were/are run at the renfrew facilities, but those opinions are based solely off of what i viewed in the documentary and what i have heard from friends who have been through their program; i have never been a patient at any of the three renfrew treatment centers.

the documentary follows four girls (of varying ages and behavior patterns) through their experiences in renfrew's care. the greenfield crew was able to get as up close and personal as to be in the nurse's rooms for weigh-ins, sit in on groups, witness the girls' "private" interactions with each other, and even rounds (the staff meetings where patients' specific treatment plans are discussed). the important part of the interactions, specifically those that would be seen as detrimental to a patient's treatment, is how they were dealt with and watching the girls work through it. at the risk of sounding mushy, it was beautiful watching how some of the girls grew through certain situations and were able to step up and make the decisions they knew they needed to.

i sat with a knot in my stomach as the opening scenes played. i expected a wave of flashbacks to wash over me throughout the movie... and they did, but they didn't effect me in the i-want-that-back type way i thought they might. i expected to maybe feel a little triggered - despite my place in recovery - which, frankly, scared the crap out of me. i did not. and i believe that strengthened my frame of mind all the more. i'm unstoppable, now ;)
what i did feel was... a lot. i felt like i wanted to talk to these girls myself, as if i could hit that magic switch for them and make them suddenly say to themselves, "oh my god, you're right! fuck this, i'm giving up all my behaviors!" i felt a gut-wrenching pain for brittany (15), who reminded me of a very inward-turned version of a 16-year-old i was on the EDU with; neither of them wanting anything to do with a life away from fatally skinny. i felt disturbed by many of the faculty decisions, the most disturbing being that the bathrooms were left unlocked (seriously?!), and one of the nurses telling a patient about 5" taller than me that she should be at 100 lbs when i should be at almost 120... are you fucking kidding me??

ah, wait, there is something 'frew does that walden never did, and i think it's fantastic: body outlines. the patient draws an outline of what s/he thinks his/her body looks like on paper. then, s/he stands in front of it or lays on it and someone else traces them. it's a genius way to give a little bit of insight into our own thought distortion. we asked to do it once on alcott; i wonder if they ever did.

my opinions on the center aside, it was a very well done documentary. i can't image how difficult it must have been for lauren greenfield and her crew to be in certain situations. again, i strongly recommend you thinking carefully about watching if you are in recovery or have any sensitivity around weight. as for parents, friends and loved ones, this is a great look into treatment, but i would also absolutely suggest that you do not draw assumptions about your friend/family member based solely upon this movie. i have bad experiences with people who read and watch eating disorder-related media and consider themselves suddenly well-educated on the subject...

as an approved media selection, you may now purchase it from amazon via the media section on the right side of my blog. enjoy in good health.


Michelle said...

I haven't seen Thin. I have no desire to I never did. Maybe it's because I being a bulimic first at in a normal weight range even slightly overweight for many years and suffereing before I turned to restriciting and my dropping of the weight...makes me really frustrated and ed media and publications that focus on woman always look emanicapated - yes, this is a serious part of eds but so sometimes regardless of how much restricitng or other behaviors you use your body will fight you. These woman often get overlooked. The media overlooks this and always goes to the woman/man who are at the extreme so do most treatment centers. Hope that makes sense.

Mama said...

I have watched Thin twice, once when I was really sick, and once after treatment. I was mostly triggered the first time, the second time I just felt sorry for the girls and I felt that it sucks to waste your life on an ed. I still want for my husband to watch it but I don't want to push iton him. Sometimes I think he's just about had it with everything ed related, and that's not because he doesn't care but just because it's too much.

KC Elaine said...

I agree with Michelle that there is too much emphasis on the girls who look the worst. The movie was certainly triggering...I thought that it only showed "the bad girl" side and worried about what people watching it would think of those with EDs if they judged by it. A lot of things that Renfrew did in the movie bugged me too