The much anticipated Netflix release of, “To the Bone,” a feature-length film chronicling the life of a woman living with anorexia, has brought up a lot of feelings within the eating disorder community. While I did my best to remain neutral in the time since the trailer was first released, now that I’ve had the chance to watch the film in full, I have to say that I am disappointed.
For the first 75 minutes or so, I had a lot of hope for the film. I thought the depiction of life with an eating disorder was honest and fairly accurate. In the portrayal however, they did use what could be seen as very triggering imagery and behaviors in order to demonstrate the devastation caused by an eating disorder. For this reason, if you have a history of an eating disorder, or are currently working toward recovery, I would not recommend watching this film.
I’d like to point out that “To the Bone” is just one of the many millions of eating disorder stories. It is important for us to understand that this film is one individual’s representation of a story loosely based on her own experience with an eating disorder. No film can truly portray the depth and complexity of these illnesses. Eating disorders, and our understanding and awareness of these conditions, transcend the film. My hope is that we can use this as an opportunity to create more productive conversations around the prevention and education of eating disorders.
If you have been effected by an eating disorder, know that there are more resources and ways to find and access support than ever before. If you have any concerns, it is absolutely okay to reach out for help.
Stuart Koman is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Walden Behavioral Care and its nonprofit Walden Center for Education and Research. Dr. Koman is a veteran health care manager with more than 30 years of experience leading and developing several behavioral health care companies. While all of these companies have become successful businesses under his leadership, Dr. Koman attributes much of this success to another common theme: They have all taken seriously their mission of providing innovative, compassionate and coordinated services to previously underserved populations and families. Walden Behavioral Care is the most recent example as it has quickly become the leading provider of services for individuals with eating disorders in New England through its multilevel, multisite system of care. In the 12 years since its founding, Walden has become a state-of-the-art system of care that has provided treatment services to more than 15,000 patients.
Dr. Koman began his professional career in 1985 when he was appointed senior clinician and then director of adolescent programs at Charles River Hospital (CRH) in Wellesley, Mass. Over the next 10 years , he led two companies in achieving significant clinical and business outcomes. The first company, Charles River Management (CRHM), a subsidiary of CRH, grew out of the work of Dr. Koman and others in developing innovative treatment models for adolescents in hospital settings. Dr. Koman and his colleagues were among the first to recognize the central importance of the family in treatment-program design. Many of these and related ideas were published in the “Handbook of Adolescents and Family Therapy,” in which Dr. Koman wrote several chapters and served as co-editor.
In 1990, Dr. Koman co-founded the managed health care company, Choate Health Systems, Inc. (CHSI). Similar to the approach at Charles River, Choate provided integrated delivery of behavioral health care through a full continuum of treatment services operating under one administration. As this model proved highly adaptive in the emerging world of managed care, Choate expanded rapidly leading to the formation of Choate Health Management, Inc. (CHMI) and Choate Psychiatric Associates, P.C. (CPA). Having successfully managed the transition in health care reimbursement approaches, Dr. Koman was asked to assist the profession of psychology to do the same and subsequently served on the governing board of the American Psychological Association’s practice division from 1992 to 2000.
After leaving Choate in 1995, Dr. Koman started Koman Associates, which focuses on leaders and leadership issues in government, health care and business. At the same time, Dr. Koman served as senior clinical adviser for Public Consulting Group, providing strategic planning and systems re-engineering to state agencies throughout the United States. Dr. Koman continues his involvement with both of these organizations albeit on a much-reduced basis since Walden was established in 2003. Dr. Koman earned his bachelor’s degree from Trinity College and his doctorate from Duke University.