9 Movies About Eating Disorders

With National Eating Disorders Awareness Week during the month of February, it’s important to highlight just how common they are in society. In fact, Hollywood has produced a number of movies about eating disorders that can be rented or streamed online at places like Netflix or YouTube.

Contrary to the harmful stereotypes that exist about eating disorders, people of all ages, genders, races and socioeconomic backgrounds can suffer from these problems.

It’s estimated that as many as 10 million men and 20 million women suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

These are serious, often life-threatening, conditions – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED) – that require medical attention and treatment.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get the help they need or even understand how the disorder can lead to other mental health issues in the future.

Movies like To The Bone (listed below) show some of the harsh realities of EDs, although others like Binge, take a more lighted-hearted approach, while still getting the message across.

There are many movies about eating disorders that only touch on the subject, but the ones listed here make it the focus of the story and the people who have lived through the disease.

Eating Disorders Movies Films and Streaming Web Series

Eating Disorder Movies and Streaming Web Series

Here are 9 eating disorder movies or web series about eating disorders that can help raise awareness and keep the conversations going about these issues:

1. Heathers (1989)

Heathers, starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, is a teen film that approaches serious issues, including eating disorders like bulimia, with dark comedy.

The film has garnered a cult following and, as one reviewer writes, “What may seem like a near-two-hour callous joke is, on consideration, a caricature of high school indifference and cruelty.”
Watch on Hulu

2. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Girl, Interrupted is based on a 1993 memoir by Susanna Kaysen. The film stars Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder, both of who suffer from mental health issues.

The film chronicles their stay in a mental institution, alongside other patients, two of which suffer from eating disorders.

3. Thin (2006)

Thin, which was featured in at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered nationally on HBO, is an eating disorder documentary that follows four women with eating disorders while they receive treatment at a residential facility in Florida.

Sadly, one of the film’s subjects succumbed to her disorder and passed in 2008.
Watch on YouTube

4. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987)

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is about real-life ’70’s pop star Karen Carpenter and her very public struggle with anorexia, a battle that ultimately took her life.

The film itself is considered a short, experimental biography that combines real footage, re-enactments by actors, and many of The Carpenters hit songs.
Watch on YouTube

5. Binge (2017)

Binge, created by and starring Harvard graduate Angela Gulner, is a comedy about her real-life struggles with bulimia.

“We believe there’s a place in the world for stories that reflect back our experiences, particularly if those experiences are complicated, messy, painful, ugly, troubling and, well, human,” notes the series webpage.
Binge – The Series

6. When Friendship Kills (A Secret Between Friends) (1996)

When Friendship Kills, aka A Secret Between Friends, is a made for TV drama about two teenage girls who befriend one another.

Along their journey, the girls flirt with diets that ultimately lead to anorexia nervosa.
Watch on YouTube

7. Perfect Body (1997)

Perfect Body stars actress Amy Jo Johnson and Olympic gymnast turned actress Cathy Rigby, who suffered from a real-life eating disorder in her youth.

The television film is about a young Olympic hopeful that develops an eating disorder related to the stress of making it onto Team U.S.A.
Watch on YouTube

8. For the Love of Nancy (1994)

For the Love of Nancy, based on a true story, stars Tracey Gold, an actress that has had a very public struggle of her own with anorexia.

The television film follows the high school graduate and college freshman as her mental and physical health spiral downward due to anorexia.
Watch on YouTube

9. To The Bone (2017)

To The Bone, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and, later, on Netflix, stars Lily Collins as Ellen and Keanu Reeves as Dr. William Beckham.

The film highlights Ellen’s journey through residential treatment for anorexia after dropping out of college.
Watch on Netflix

Why Eating Disorder Movies?

Movies about anorexia, bulimia, and other types of eating disorders might be difficult to watch for some people but they can also play an important role for those who are struggling.

The eating disorder movies outlined here show a wide variety of genres, including scripted films, comedies, documentaries, and biopics about real-life celebrities.

Because eating disorders impact so many people and their families, it’s necessary to increase awareness so the general public understands more.

It’s also critical that friends and family members of those who have issues with anorexia or bulimia offer support to assist them in seeking professional help if needed.

Maybe discovering that many famous people have overcome their own issues will provide encouragement that ED can be conquered.

Something as simple as watching movies about eating disorders and seeing how it has affected others, both positively and negatively, might also inspire more people to consider treatment.

With Eating Disorders Week in February, this is an ideal time to raise awareness and understanding by watching some of these films.


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