Chilling To The Bone; A reaction to Netflix’s new film’s trailer.

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST IS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS AND THEREFORE DISCUSSES HABITS, TRIGGERS FOR EDS AND WEIGHT.

I’m writing this post as I’ve found my thoughts of the new film commissioned by Netflix rather difficult to convey in just 140 characters. It’s difficult to present a balanced argument when you post something strongly leaning one way, and want people who disagree to understand you do respect what they’re saying but…

The first time I became aware of this new series was on Tuesday. I saw my friend retweeting angry messages, directed at Netflix, so I asked her what was going on, to which she replied “they’re making a series glorifying and romanticising anorexia”, to which I automatically felt angry. Before going on a rant myself, I decided to google what I soon found out was called ‘To The Bone’ and starred highly idolised actress Lily Collins.

After this research, I was angry. Angry at the fact producers think it is okay to romanticise mental illness, so to begin with, that’s all I tweeted about.

And as was pointed out, it is no different to romanticising other physical and mental health problems in films and media, I do agree with that much.

I never got beyond the first chapter of The Fault In Our Stars (John Green doesn’t really write my preferred style of literature), so I feel I don’t have much to say on it, but it is known that the romanicisation of a serious illness in that book and subsequent film made me angry. Even in my favourite shows and surrounding my favourite actresses, I get angry at the romanticisation of stories. So, don’t think i’m just attacking this film.

I decided to then seek out a few different perspectives and watch the trailer again (not finishing it the first time due to the triggering nature of the 3 minute piece), with these in mind. It made me think and consider everything from all angles. Before I talk about the trailer, I want to address something else I discovered during my research.

I discovered via an interview with Refinery29 that Lily Collins, the 28 actress playing the seriously ill protagonist ‘Ellen’,  had to lose a lot of weight for the part. It was stated that this weight loss came under supervision, and supposedly was safe, but regardless of what the producers say, I really don’t think this is okay. Even Collins states she had concerns before taking the part because of how easy this preparation alone can lead to a relapse, considering the actress suffered from anorexia as a teenager. This was not my only concern. I feel like Lily Collins must have found some things she had to do triggering; coffee loading and counting calories are in the trailer alone. This is especially because eating disorders are something you are always in recovery from. You are not your illness, but whether out of your ED habits and weight restored*, eating disorders

FullSizeRender
screenshot of the caption of an account from the body positive community on instagram (possibly positively.kate)

are unfortunately a condition that burdens you for your whole goddamn life. I also have concerns that it will make her triggers and habits more fresh, therefore being more likely to influence her in the future. I just think this is incredibley dangerous and not worth the risk of hindering someone’s mental health and recovery for the sake of views, and I guess money too.

*Another thing i’m worried about is that anorexia and other eating disorders will only be portayed as many think they are; anorexic people will only be played by extremely physcially ill, skinny people. This angers me, because there is such a stigma around this issue already- people seem to forget that eating disorders are a mental illness. Yes, many people suffering from the illness suffer from dramatic weight loss and weigh fluctuations, but many people who ‘do not look anorexia’ still suffer and too, could be very seriously physically ill but just not conventionally look it. Some people physically struggle to lose weight (which can actually sometimes be fuel to make the ED worse) but are still just as mentally and likely physically ill as someone you may more likely think has an ED.

NEDA has a page on the physical impacts of eating disorders, and it is important to remember this.

Another concern of mine is this: There is such a fine line, especially when it comes to EDs, between raising awareness and being somewhat influential. Especially as mental health problems is becoming more widespread, and many young girls- whom are likely the primary audience- will probably be suffering with a form of dysphoria, be it worrying body image issues or simply insecurities. Programmes and films in the genre of To The Bone is something that will more than likely push easily influenced teens and young girls over the edge, and that is worrying.

Netflix, you want to raise awareness? Make a documentary. Make a documentary about EDs and people’s experiences, the severity of it. Make a documentary in association with NEDA and BEAT (whether you choose the profits to go to you or charity). You probably still could have got influential figures such as Lily Collins to speak about her experience without needing to put her at risk. That’s why tweets saying that it’s offensive to feel negatively and be reluctant about it upsets me because it’s not invalidating, mental health, especially EDs are so in need of awareness, and people aren’t fighting it because it’s inaccurate, people are upset because it romanticises mental health and instead of raising awarenss puts actresses and arguably, as mentioned above, young (and even older) boys and girls at risk.

On to the trailer

The trailer starts with a girl counting calories; This is accurate of many eating disorders and from an awareness point of view,  is significant as it shows the obsessive nature of an eating disorder. I have two views on this. The first applauds the awareness and accuracy, but the second thinks it’s a very risky move. People watching may think ‘why am I not counting my calories?’, and begin to. Once you fall into one habit it is easy to fall into others, so even the first 10 seconds of the trailer is risky, in my opinion.

It then comments on what Ellen and the lady I presume to her mum is having for breakfast. The comment on coffee not being breakfast hints at coffee loading, which I consider dangerous as it’s not a habit known widely outside of the ED community. It is done in a good way though, and I think it’s important for the audience to remind us that a drink, calorific or not, is not sufficient and out bodies need food.

I do think the above, combined with the trailer’s opening scene gives off an important message: restricting, a main aspect of eating disorders, does not necessarily mean totally starving yourself- it can mean skipping meals, eating less than your intake, it can mean totally starving yourself… all are just as dangerous.

“You do a lot of sit ups” is something I can’t comment negatively on at all. It once more highlights the obsessive nature of eating disorders and compulsive exercise regime many sufferers have ingrained into the mindset of their ED. It is comparatively not particularly triggering (aside from the protagonists dangerously skinny spine showing) and is good for awareness.

“I’m not going to treat you if you’re not interested in living” is also something I have nothing negative to say about. If you suffer from mental health problems, you will know that recovery is difficult and say you suffer from depression, you are desperate to get better… with eating disorders it’s different. Most people don’t want to recover for so many reasons (which I will not list in this post), but from an awareness point of view, I think this is so important because it’s not something that’s easy to describe unless you feel it yourself.

Something I am critical about is the “I am healthy / I am strong / I am in control” because you expect these messages to be empowering when Ellen is not healthy. Ellen thinks she is, and she is in control, but of her ED. She’s controlling her body in a negative way. Seeing these messages crop up upsets me quite a bit as I don’t think portraying to the audience that having, I guess what is the willpower to not eat and subsequently kill your body, comes across as promoting EDs and glorifying anorexia, and that is really not okay.

I don’t have a lot more to say about the trailer, as I’d like to leave the rest up to the film but I again think “I’m not going to lie, I’m really f***ing hungry” is another important quote as amongst the talk about EDs and the portrayal of someone struggling with food, it reminds us, the audience, that it is perfectly normal and in fact healthy to eat when you’re hungry, to act on what your body is telling you when you know it needs nutrients.

All in all, there are many aspects of To The Bone that I don’t agree with, primarily the romanticising of a serious illness and the risks Netflix took in making this film, but it clear that it is important to look at all sides and consider people and their opinion as individuals and respect them.

I hope Netflix proves me wrong; I hope they have used this film as a chance to raise awareness rather than to glorify something that never in a million years should be. I hope Lily had her say, having genuinely struggled and she was able to bring her experiences to the table safely. I hope it educates the friends and family of people with EDs and presents people of all shapes and sizes as ill, rather than adding to the stigma.

I hope, now, you understand where my anger has come from, and please know that if you disagree (and have a valid argument for doing so), I respect your view, too.

Lauren Curr

A vote for the Tories is a vote against people like me.

“A vote for the Tories is a vote against me”

 

FullSizeRender (3)My name is Lauren Bethany Curr. I am 18 years old. You probably won’t know who I am (as I’m ‘nobody’, as such), and you probably won’t care. But you will impact my life significantly. Your vote for the Tories is a vote against people like me.

I’m not saying I’ve never had a privilege in life, oh no. I’m aware I have had a good upbringing and been very lucky in my childhood, but I don’t need to say much for you to know i’m fighting a lot of battles:

I am a queer, mentally ill, disabled woman.

Why does that matter to you? Gosh, in a way I hope it doesn’t. I’m the same human as I was when you started reading this, and seeing those things shouldn’t change your view of me, but in light of politics, I hope that it does make you think a little.

I am a woman

Oh gosh, I am proud to be a woman. If you hear the amount of times I talk about how wonderful and pure women are daily, you will know that. But that doesn’t stop the sexism- explicit, or inherent, both high and lowkey sexism seems to exist every day. Whether I’m wolf-whistled on the way to sixth form, or treated differently, or expected not to be able to do something due to my sex, we still face struggles.

I am LGBT+

I identify most with being ‘pansexual’. If you don’t know what being pan means (no, I am not attracted to kitchen utensils), my favourite explanation is ‘hearts not parts’. To sum this up, I am attracted to people, not genders. We live in a society where, despite the progressive nature of the UK’s attitude towards LGBT+ people and LGBT+ rights, we still face hell fighting to be ourselves, to be accepted in the same way heterosexuals are. You just need to read Liz Kessler’s short story ‘Love Is A Word, Not A Sentence’ to realise that.

Even beyond that, pansexuality is totally misunderstood. People think it means ‘to hook up with anyone and anything’, but that is not at all the case, and I find it so difficult to be facing that as someone on the asexual scale. You also find that- both externally and, shockingly, within the LGBT+ community, there is a lot of pan-erasure, as well as panphobia. You really would think people were better than that, but it’s a fact that I was told that I was ‘lesser’ and ‘worth less’, by someone who identified as gay. Unshockingly, I’ve also been told that by a straight person.

I mean, this picture pretty much sums it up:


SO? Where do I stand? I am invisible. My rights are invisible.
I am disabled

And hell, not only am I disabled, but my disability is invisible. People don’t understand it, and don’t want to believe it (to be honest, as an 18 year old, neither do I) but my disabilities are valid, and a huge (literal) pain. I used to be national champion dancer. I even had over 30 hours of rehearsal for musical theatre shows PER WEEK only last year, before it got bad. Now, I struggle to move. Walking to the end of the road makes me exhausted. My joints decide when they do and, primarily don’t, want to be in place. OH, and it really doesn’t help my mental health.

I am mentally ill

The worst part about this category is my own attitude towards it. The stigma, and symptoms of my mental health, makes me anxious to speak out about it, but I have several severe mental illnesses, and they are so debilitating. It feels like I don’t have a life, not deserve one, and it’s caused me so many problems. Anyone who’s experienced any mental health problem on any scale will understand this.

Why does your vote impact me?

I could write for days and days about each party and their policies towards each, but i’m going to quickly summarise with a few examples regarding each:

On Disability: The Conservative Party are renowned for cutting disability benefits and disbelieving that someone is medically disabled if they can pass a totally unrelated test. Although I do not have it as bad as many others, this means that I am at risk of struggling. Over Christmas, in fact, I had to take almost 2 months off work due to my disabilities and do I get anything for it? No. As an adult, I would love them to explain, on such occurrences, how they expect me to live. They are also likely to cut NHS funding- as someone from a working class background who lives in ‘absolute poverty’ as defined by the British government, NHS funding is necessary for people like me who have chronic illnesses and not nearly enough to fund private healthcare. On the other hand, cuts made by the Labour party have never nearly been so severe and it is known that Labour’s priority is to funnel money into the Welfare State. ON top of that, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently introduced a thing called ‘please offer me a seat’. This is particularly validating for people like me with invisible disabilities who are able to have a badge and card for free of charge, and be treated the same as anyone with visible impairments in times of struggle.

On Mental Healthcare: Despite the amount of people admitted with psychiatric problems doubling between 2010 and 2013/4, over 4,000 of 40,000 mental health nursing jobs have been cut. The charity ‘Mind’ has also compiled the party’s proposed action to mental healthcare.

On being LGBT: The website ‘My gay vote’ has compiled each party’s voting record on LGBT issues over the years:IMG_8609

 

I am not alone, remember that, and I don’t mean that in an empowering way; I mean, many people suffer with mental health problems, many people are LGBT+, and many people are disabled. I’m sure, too, a lot of people identify with many of these things too.

By Lauren Curr 

Riiiiiiize up! (And register to vote)

“Rise up
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up”


Today is the 22nd May 2017. Today is your last chance to register to vote for the 2017 General Election. Please, please, please, do it. I beg you.

This is something I feel extremely passionate about; Personally, I am of the belief that voting should be compulsory for all, but regardless of that right now, we need to get as many people as possible to register to vote, and more importantly, vote.

Processed with VSCO with 10 presetI’m lucky enough to work for a company with incredible ethics, i’m very proud of it. If you haven’t been past your local Lush store recently, or on the website (linked), you may not have seen the campaign in partnership with ‘Rize Up‘. I had honestly never heard of them before, but i’m so glad I have now, they are incredible.

I think something that was particularly striking to me was one of the slogans used on a leaflet distributed from Oxford Street:

Hate the system? It’s not surprising, we’ve been ignored for too long. The system is banking on us to do nothing.

This really, really got to me. The amount of friends i’ve heard say ‘my vote won’t count’ or ‘they don’t care about young people’ hurts my soul. Do you know under what circumstances your vote won’t count? If you don’t cast it! Whether you’re under 25 or the age of my grandparents, whatever your political leaning, remember how lucky we are to live in a democracy. Remember people fought for your right to vote; once upon a time, women and the working class would have had no say, so in my eyes, voting is simply the process of exercising your democratic duty.

The other amazing thing about Rize Up is one of their main focuses; Allowing people with no permanent address to register to vote; a large proportion of the nation who does not vote is made up of the homeless community, and many people are totally unaware that when homeless, they are still able to vote. Rize up is a big player in promoting this. It is extremely necessary that people whom are impoverished still have their voice, because especially under our current government, the wealth gap is hitting those people more than anyone. You can find out more about this on the Rize Up website, and I really hope you choose to, and most importantly, choose to register to vote.

Thank you. Have your voice heard.

By Lauren Curr

Kindness is golden

On Thursday night, it was my ‘Leavers’ dinner’; the occasion to say goodbye to many humans who have influenced my life, even if just in passing. 
Although I am not actually leaving WGGS this year due to health reasons, my illnesses do not erase the fact I have been a part of this year group for the past 7 years, hence why I turned up.
Another person who turned up spite leaving this year was my old form tutor- Ms Chandler, ex-head of RS at my school in fact retired last year after 36 years as Head of Department and over 40 years teaching at my school; I was shocked to hear another teacher tell me she feared no one would listen to her! We all absolutely adore her. 
I was gutted when she left being my form tutor at the end of year 12. She was the sweetest human being you could ever cross paths with, so it was more than lovely to see her again!
When she left she gave every member of our form a gift- mine was a beautiful heart shaped trinket box with a pink rose on top, and it’s sat on my desk since. It just gives off such a message of care, and I’ve used it as hope, inspiration and strength through tough times, as she always looked after us. This time, she cared for our entire year- even those that she doesn’t know.
I think it says something that since receiving this gift, it hasn’t left my sight. It was something I needed, and I’m sure will support me now and forever. 
The gift we all received from Ms Chandler was a little trinket bag full of meaningful, metaphorical gifts.


Each bag had a quote attached and included 2 candles, 2 sweets, and a balloon; below describes what each object means;

  • The quote– each individual to ensure they were personal. I think this is very reflective of me as I frequently allow my depression and other mental health issues totally engulf the good and disappear, when in fact I frequently still have a good time despite it. 
  • The candles– The candles are, of course, to light. The light is meant to be a representation of hope and shines for the future as we are ‘the females of the future’.
  • The sweets- a general de-stress treat for during exams, and a reminder that one day, life will be sweet.
  • The balloon- referred to as a balloon of luck. I know i’m going to keep mine and blow it up before letting the air out in times of need.
  • A golden bag- to store all of our golden moments, golden memories in (watch out for a following post on the golden memories topic).


Not only was it incredibly adorable to think of us this way, but the effort and thoughtfulness put into each handmade bag made me sob. 

Even though as an RS teacher, she touched on a lot of religious things (and not being religious myself they have not stuck with me), kindness has no religion, no skin colour, no gender. Kindness is universal and it really perks up your day. I know this gift will massively impact me in the future.

Earlier that day, I actually met someone else whose kindness influenced me. She came into work and was just such an angel. Just chatting to her made my day and her kindness and willingness to bond with a total stranger made a shitty day somewhat more tolerable. Not only her kindness made me smile, but as she was so lovely, I gave her a Random Act of Kindness (which, if you have been into Lush before/regularly you may have received) and she was over the moon.I found a ‘sleepy’ body lotion (which we only sell at Christmas) and gave it to her as a gift, and as her favourite, she was over the moon. Knowing this made me smile so much (Melanie, if you’re reading this, enjoy your sleepy and thank you for making my day!). Not only this, but 2 hours of my shift was spent cutting and wrapping more than a whole soap into hundreds of average sized pieces of soap (probably around 200g each) to be delivered to a homeless shelter the next day. This made me so happy as, Lush Watford having done this before, people who used to be homeless have come in and told us how much they loved the soap and were grateful. Knowing we make a difference and don’t ‘just sell soap’ makes me so happy.
Anyway, kindness is free, so go out there and spread it! Trust me when I tell you, it can be super rewarding personally, and even if not to you, it willlikely have a huge impact on other people.

Love always, Lauren xxx

ME awareness day 

Today, May 12th, is ME awareness day. ME stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, which you may also have heard of as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A lot of people, myself included, like to refer to it as ME rather than CFS as CFS doesn’t quite encapture the chronic pain, the real exhaustion and the debilitating nature of the the illness; too frequently you hear ‘oh, I get tired too’ or people calling you lazy, and the only way to stop their ignorance in its tracks is by telling them the brutal truth, the symptoms, how you spent- or didn’t spend- the morning, and all the things your illness has stopped you from doing. 
As someone with ME, I can tell you- chronic fatigue is so much different to ‘tiredness’.
I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as I quite frankly do not have the energy or a clear enough mind to keep writing, but I felt the need to post something about this hellish illness I live with on it’s awareness day.
I am fed up of my chronic illnesses and disabilities being ignored and shrugged off. I am an 18 year old irl with early onset disabilities , and I find it bloody hard to accept that I’m ill (as other people seem to, too).
That’s another thing- you won’t see my worst days. You might see me hidden behind make-up and smiling, but I’m smiling through a heavy dosage of painkillers and the knowledge that you didn’t see my collapse this morning, you didn’t see me paralysed and unable to get up after a 24hr sleep. 
My CFS had massively impacted my life. That’s even proven by the fact I decided to write this out on paper before typing it, and despite not touching a pen today, I’m struggling to go on from weakness and pain. 

Though my mental health was the primary reason, my CFS contributed to my lack of attendance during my last year of sixth form, and has made me retake my final school year. And on that note, my CFS has not helped my mental health. A hell load has been added to it. Be it the confusion and denial, nature of chronic pain, general impact it has had, or the brain fog I frequently live with, I needed recovery and have been served the opposite. 
I’m not looking for sympathy, just awareness. Chronic illnesses are real and valid, and my ME’s invisibility makes it no less debilitating. Please respect me and be aware of that. 
Lauren Curr 12/05/17
A final note- TFL have started doing ‘please offer me a seat cards’! I have applied to them due to having EDS, ME and FMS and therefore frequently being unable to walk or stand, or generally in pain, too. It’s so validating and important so if you think you need one, just type the quoted into your browser and apply! Hope this helps ❤️

Studyblr and bullet journaling

A few days ago, I made the decision to create a ‘studyblr’/’studygram’ blog on the social media site ‘Instagram’. I did this as my relationship with studying, I feel, is faltering. My education has been severely hindered this year due to ill-health, and that upset me as I am extremely passionate about my subjects. Anyway, this was created to improve my relationship with studying and it has so far worked and calmed me about my education situation- a lot. 

The second part of this comes in the form of a bullet journal. Initially, I started bullet journaling in February 2016, but soon, after discovering the time it involved and my lack of ability to make it look pretty, gave up. I resumed this practice in May, post AS exams, whilst I visited universities and museums for enrichment and to make a decision about my future. It actually came in very handy for organising everything, what with al the moving about and just the general need to organise my disorganised life. I am pretty proud of many of the pages in that journal- more the art pages than spreads, as my general layout was basic and grim (not that basic is grim, but mine was both). This continued throughout summer and up until around the point I went to Washington in October. I did restart it in February, but I was pretty disheartened with, frankly, how ugly it was, so decided to order a fancy new boo from Japan and waited for a month for it. As it arrived a few days before the end of March, I began mapping out my April spreads and prepped for making a beautiful attempt at bringing the bujo back (in my life). Anyway *touch wood* it’s going pretty well, and I’ve been sharing my work on the above mentioned studyblr. 

Here are a few little examples of the things I get up to over there:

If you want to give me a follow, I’m just over here!

I’m thinking of sharing some bits and bobs over here- not as much. I do love posting little pictures there but I think this blog may take a little more educational turn- and I’m thinking of aye posting, in contrast, a few more Lush and beauty bits? 

The Importance of Bill’s Sexuality

This is extremely important X

The Time Ladies

I was nine years old when I started watching Doctor Who. I had yet to discover my sexual identity and all I knew was that I had a huge crush on Rose Tyler. Of course, this was 2006 and representation for gay women was pretty minimal. Heterosexual relationships took over the majority of television so much that it seemed as if it was the only acceptable relationship to have. Yet, I knew there was something that made me different and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. Truth was, it took me over ten years to really figure it out (in fact, I still am).

In 2017, we are much luckier than we were in 2006. Soaps have a constant representation of LGBT relationships and characters, we have television shows like Orange is the New Black and The L Word and musicians such as Hayley Kiyoko. Yet…

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