Actress Reveals She Was Complimented on Weight Loss While Playing an Anorexia Patient

June 29th 2017

Almie Rose

Lily Collins, who stars in the controversial Netflix film "To the Bone," revealed the troubling comments she received after losing a drastic amount of weight to play a woman struggling with anorexia.


A post shared by Lily Collins (@lilyjcollins) on

In an interview by "To the Bone" director Marti Noxon for Net-a-Porter's The Edit, Collins discussed her experience with anorexia and what it felt like to apply that to a character going through similar struggles.

"We do a good job of hiding it by putting such an opposite image of ourselves out there," she said, of actresses hiding eating disorders, "like when I read interviews that say, 'Oh, I never exercise and I eat whatever I want, I just have a great metabolism.'"

Noxon responded, "People would joke to me all the time, 'I wish I had just a touch of anorexia.'"

This prompted Collins to reveal a troubling encounter she had when someone commented on her weight during the time she was shooting the film.

"I was leaving my apartment one day and someone I’ve known for a long time, my mom’s age, said to me, 'Oh, wow, look at you!' I tried to explain [I had lost weight for a role] and she goes, 'No! I want to know what you’re doing, you look great!'" she said. 

Collins went on to add:

I got into the car with my mom and said, 'That is why the problem exists.'

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reveals 20 million women in the United States "suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life."

depressed woman

For men, the number is 10 million. These disorders include, according to NEDA, "anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS." They add EDNOS, which stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, is now "recognized as OSFED, other specified feeding or eating disorder."

Those with eating disorders can be triggered by hearing they've lost weight.

U.S. News & World Report noted "for a person struggling with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, certain compliments, comments or words of advice might cause more harm than good – no matter how innocuous they seem."

The media outlet spoke to Claire Mysko, director of programs at NEDA, who said, "these kind of remarks usually come from a place of good intentions." But because you don't know if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them, you don't know if what you've just said is potentially harmful. That's because these compliments can "come across as insensitive or triggering. And in even more dangerous cases, [Mysko] says, they can normalize or downplay an eating disorder’s severity."

Dietitian Adina Fradkin added, "think twice about the praise that you’re giving them, and think about whether you're praising an eating disorder as well."

Yet another reason why it's generally not a good idea to offer unsolicited opinions on a woman's body, no matter the intentions.

If you need help or if you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or visit to find additional resources.