Nine Movies About Eating Disorders

The cinema gives a voice and images to realities that usually remain hidden in the most internal strata of society. This is exactly what happens with eating disorders.
Nine Movies About Eating Disorders
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 05 September, 2023

Many people who suffer from eating disorders are unaware that they’re ill. In addition, people around them usually have a hard time recognizing that there’s a problem when it’s in its early stages. Indeed, there needs to be a considerable deterioration in the sufferer for those around them to begin to give any importance to their condition. Moreover, today, there’s so much information around, much of which isn’t necessarily true. This ends up generating confusion.

Experts indicate that the general population’s knowledge of eating disorders is poor. As with other mental disorders, misinformation, prejudices, and stereotypes are combined and the real roots of these diseases tend to be neglected.

It’s important to be aware of this problem and try to avoid prejudices and stereotypes. One way to achieve this is to watch movies about eating disorders. We hope that our list of nine of them will help you reflect on the subject.

1. To the Bone (2017)

To the Bone can be found on Netflix. This audiovisual work stars Lily Collins, who recounts the experience of a girl, Ellen, who suffers from severe anorexia.

Ellen decides to check into a facility with a rather unconventional doctor. He’s a strange professional who proposes several challenges that make her gradually gain self-confidence. In fact, she starts to understand that her identity is much more complex than what she can deduce from the parts of her body that she doesn’t like.

2. For the Love of Nancy (1999)

Based on a true story, this movie stars Tracey Gold. She was one of the first celebrities to confess to an eating disorder. The movie provides a vital and much-needed story for raising awareness of anorexia in society.

Especially hard for the viewer to watch is the picture of the obsessive-compulsive disorder associated with anorexia that the protagonist, Nancy, suffers from. It’s also difficult to witness, not just the suffering of Nancy, but those close to her too.

3. Bad Habits (2005)

Directed by Simón Bross, this Mexican movie is a social critique of the imposition of beauty canons accepted by society today. With the aim of opening the mind and alerting the population to these types of toxic thoughts, viewers witness the life of a family suffering from different eating disorders:

  • Matilde has abandoned her medical degree to enter a convent. There, she decides to start fasting in an attempt to save humanity, because she thinks that the second flood is coming.
  • Elena (an extremely thin woman) is ashamed of her daughter Linda’s fatness so she tries, at all costs, to make her lose weight.
  • Gustavo, Elena’s husband, cheats on her with a student who finds such a degree of pleasure in food that eating is almost a ritual for her.

4. The Best Little Girl in the World (1981)

Critics maintain that this was the first time that the public had the opportunity to see for themselves on the big screen the kind of eating disorder that forced the protagonist to vomit every time she ate, to exercise at dawn, or to cry when she gained weight, even though she barely weighed 37 kg.

The movie was made when we were becoming aware of the distorted image of beauty promoted by society. Therefore, viewing this movie was extremely important for anyone who wanted to be aware of any possible indication of the condition of anorexia.

5. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Girl, Interrupted is a 1993 memoir by American author Susanna Kaysen. In the book, she recounted her experiences as a patient in a mental hospital in the 1960s.

Her story was brought to the big screen by Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder. They were charged with giving life to the protagonists who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, and other disorders that so often appear in adolescence.

6. Sharing the Secret (2000)

The obsession with thinness and the dangers that eating disorders hide are the themes of this American tv movie, directed by Katt Shea. Beth is loaded down with the pressure to please others. She’s a model teenager who ends up being helped by her mother, a child psychologist, to combat bulimia.

This cinematographic work isn’t only perfect for delving into the interior of sufferers of bulimia. It also portrays an escape route for any adolescent who may be beginning to develop this condition. Moreover, it shows how parental support and understanding should be mandatory during the healing process.

7. Abzurdah (2015)

This is a dramatic Argentine film based on the autobiographical and homonymous novel by the famous writer, Cielo Latini. She recounts, through the movie, her own life experience.

This movie leaves no viewer indifferent. Editorial Planeta claimed it was “the disturbing story of a teenager”. Cielo is a student who meets a man nine years older than her on the internet with whom she obsessively falls in love. However, the relationship becomes increasingly toxic until she gradually destroys herself.

8. Starving in Suburbia (2015)

This movie focuses on support groups that appear on the internet to, apparently, help sufferers of eating disorders.

But as the story develops, the viewer sees the danger of having unqualified people on these digital platforms treating a disease that plays with the mind and body.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what the protagonist of the movie experiences. Hannah is a dancer with anorexia. She accesses these chat forums which ultimately cause the devastating consequences of her disorder to escalate.

9. Hunger Point (2003)

This is a good socially critical movie. It focuses on a toxic family relationship that directly affects the mental health of the two protagonists.

The terrible obsession of a mother to perpetuate an unattainable beauty makes her daughters feel extremely pressured, to the point of becoming extremely insecure. In fact, they end up developing anorexia in order to remain thin. Inevitably, the consequences are extremely serious.

The importance of movies

Eating disorders aren’t fiction, they’re real and they tend to appear at really early ages. Therefore, these movies are a good way of finding out about the problems that occur, their symptoms, and their possible causes.

If you think someone close to you may be experiencing an eating disorder, act as soon as possible and don’t let any more time pass by. In these cases, asking for professional help to tackle the root cause of the problem can be vital. On the other hand, if you want to make your children or loved ones aware of the dangers of eating disorders, these recommended movies are a great option for alerting them. Of course, you should always bear in mind the recommended age limit of each movie.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.