By Chelsea LoCascio
While giving her son his nightly bath, Alisa Williams would take the opportunity to throw up down the drain while her son’s head was turned.
Alisa’s obsession to lose weight had become so detrimental to her health that she was sent to The Renfrew Center of Florida.
In the HBO documentary “Thin,” which was played in the Library Auditorium this past Wednesday, Feb. 12, hosted by CAPS on behalf of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, four women, Alisa Williams, Brittany Robinson, Polly Williams and Shelly Guillory, were followed on their journeys to recovery from bulimia, anorexia or both.
“There are a lot of misconceptions of eating disorders,” said Amanda Mastronardi, the co-chair of the National Eating Awareness Month Committee, about the issues in the film.
Mastronardi further explained that people are still unaware of how serious the illness truly is, as “it’s a huge mental health issue … it’s often compared to addiction.”
Prior to viewing the film, Mastronardi warned the audience of the graphic and personal subject matter of the film and that anyone was welcome to leave at any given point.
“Thin” is certainly not for the faint of heart, as eyes closed and heads turned on multiple occasions. This happened during scenes including those in which Alisa and Polly were shown vomiting, in addition to the viewing of the inside of Shelly’s stomach during a feeding tube extraction that resulted from her disorder.
This film allowed anyone to see into the lives of an eating disorder victim, as they feared not only gaining weight, but also death. In the beginning, viewers were informed that “as many as one in seven women with anorexia will die from the illness.”
The film also gave the audience a chance to ride the emotional rollercoaster that is an eating disorder. One scene showed Alisa drawing the body she perceived she had, which depicted a stocky masculine figure.
As the art therapist had Alisa stand against the drawing, she outlined Alisa’s actual body. Alisa failed to see the difference between the frail and bulky images and resorted to pointing out her troubled areas instead.
“What hit me was she still saw it as an issue,” sophomore graphic design major Danielle McDermott said. “She still saw herself as too big.”
Alisa’s poor body image resonated with all the other Renfrew patients who were a mere representation of the countless people who struggle daily with disorders.
Another scene depicted Polly’s severe anxiety as she contemplated eating a cupcake for her birthday. Scenes such as these allowed the audience to see the anxiety, fear and sheer terror wash over their faces as they were destroyed by the thought of gaining even a single pound.
Finally, the film updated the audience on the lives of Alisa, Polly, Brittany and Shelly today. The audience was faced with the truth — even after their treatment, each woman continued to struggle and reverted back to the comforts of their eating disorders
The very last scene showed Alisa’s first day back home, where she ultimately decided to start throwing up again.
“It’s hard watching anyone struggle,” junior health and exercise science major Lucas Guyt said. “There’s no real cure, but there is hope.”