Erin P. (erinstotle) wrote in ed_ucate,
Erin P.

Thin: A review

I just watched the documentary Thin today at the HotDocs film festival. The film is about a group of girls who are in eating disorder treatment at Renfrew in Florida, a popular US treatment centre where the whole documentary takes place at. I must say that I was really impressed with the documentary. First of all, Lauren fucking Greenfield directed it - it was her first movie and she captured the lives of ED'd girls on film as amazingly as she captures the filth and fury of North American youth and children consumed by body image through her photography.

The documentary was raw; nothing was censored. It was pure truth. The film was grainy and there were no special effects except for captions of ED statistics. There weren't any triggering pictures of celebrities and models floating around on the screen, there weren't any girls trying to be Britney Spears (I love how her name still floats around despite her media death). The documentary simply showed that this is a serious problem with so many layers that there is no one person or thing that can be blamed for "making" people have eating disorders. They aren't things you "catch", but they are a result of learned behaviours, ways of coping with issues, family values, childhood, past relationships, etc. Moreover, the film showed the girls as raw and emotional creatures bewildered by life; however, many with EDs are intelligent and sneaky enough to hide their food obsessions, even while institutionalized.

Amidst the cigarette smoke and the attempts to eat normally, Renfrew could have been portrayed as part of a reality television show series. There were fights among patients, as well as disagreements with patients versus therapists and nutritionists. Because of this, the film was very dramatic and kept the audience at the edge of their seats. It was very easy to follow although it did not talk about why or how eating disorders happen; it simply documented the dramatic lives of a group of girls in treatment. There weren't any phony interviews of street people, recovered individuals, professionals and media critics. Sometimes girls would wander off into cliques, while others blamed some for "wanting to be the sickest one here" and not attempting to recover. Quite frequently and very sadly, some of the girls' insurance would run out and they had to leave treatment because they couldn't afford it anymore (naturally, US insurance policies make me sick to my stomach).

Some of the images I saw in this film will stick with me forever - much like Greenfield's disturbing photography. I will not forget seeing a mother of two throw up in her bathroom while her dog tried to get in. I will not forget the bones hiding under XL hoodies. I will not forget the women standing in awkward positions below a ceiling vent, smoking cigarettes and trying to hide the smell. I will not forget the bizarre clique of the "Frew Crew" that emerged, and the betrayal that tore the crew apart (probably for the better). I will not forget the girl who had to weigh herself backwards so she couldn't see the number on the scale. I will not forget the woman who said she joined the US military to lose weight. I will not forget the woman who cried after she ate her birthday cupcake.

Most importantly, I will not forget Brittany, a fifteen-year-old who had weighed 187 lbs as well as 97 lbs. Every time she came on the screen, I bawled my eyes out. She just reminded me of a younger version of me, it was just TOO MUCH and I had to cry. She was a "misfit" with no desire to recover with an addiction to thinness. One scene I will never forget: Brittney's mother comes to visit her in Renfrew and Brittney is complaining that she is growing a double-chin again. She starts freaking out, pulling at her skin, squealing, "I don't want it on me anymore, mom. I don't want it on me. You don't understand". In the end, there was a caption that said she had lost weight since then. Apparently - and I regret using this word - she found the willpower to do so. I wonder where she is right now, and I wonder if she's happy.

All in all, I personally found this documentary to be groundbreaking for ED film.
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