Troian Bellisario’s New Film Gives Eating Disorders A Necessary Narrative

may be ending soon (*ugly cries*), but actress,Troian Bellisario(who plays Spencer Hastings), already has a new project in the works that may be her most impactful yet.

Bellisario shot thefilmwhich she directed and wrote based on her personal experience with the anorexia, reports People magazine. The movies plot will follow twins (played by Bellisario and Tom Felton, of fame) who experience a tragedy in their last year of high school that pushes them apart.

Bellisario discussed the film and mental illness in detail withmagazine.

She shared,

One of the things I really wanted the film to explore was that once you have this relationship, once you have this mental illness or this disease, it never really goes away.

Your synapses are wired in a way that you will always feel this compulsion, but as you grow older and create a healthier life and go through lots of therapy, you tend to feel more empowered when it comes to making these choices.

The actress has long been open about her battle with anorexia, and first talked about it in an interview with magazine.

She described her experience, saying,

I started self-harming when I was a junior. I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school.

I would create this bizarre system of checks and balances to create order in my world.

Bellisariolaterfilmed an awareness PSAduring the2016 Hillary Clinton campaign.

The filmis necessary for the culture simply because we dont talk about eating disordersas often as we should.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men experience an eating disorder in their lifetimes. Half a million teens are also affected by them.

While there have been movies about eating disorders in the past, the topic has not been part of national conversationin this way.

Growing up, I specifically remember learning everything there was to know about eating disorders from Lifetime movies, like(1994), and (1996).

Since the 90s, yes, there have been other films that grapple with the subject, like the 2013 film, , starring Elle Fanning. Still, a check on Google search trends shows public interest in looking up terms like eating disorders, anorexia, and bulimia has decreased since 2004.

There is still little understandingabout eating disorders.

We hear most often about anorexia and bulimia,yet there are other typesof disorders that go under the mainstream radar, likebinge-eating disorder, purging disorder, and night-eating syndrome.

Other conditions are classified as eating disorder not otherwise specified or EDNOS. An example isPica,the behavior ofconstantly eating things not meant for consumption, like plastic or dirt. Ruminationis another, which happens when people bring back up food they already digested to eat again.

Chewing and spitting (c/s) is another condition not classified as an eating disorder, but involves a person chewing foodand spitting it out instead of swallowing it.

Its important to talk about and understand these disorders, so we can identify them easier, and erase the stigmas associated with them.

Wedont thoroughly understandthepeople who suffer from these disorders.

Merriam-Webster definesanorexia as,

A serious physical and emotional illness in which an abnormal fear of being fat leads to very poor eating habits and dangerous weight loss.

However, this definition is incomplete, according toexperts and survivors.

Psychology Today debunked the myth about eating disorders being all about wanting to be thin, in anarticle that discusses how the desire forcontrol is the fueling factor.

Troian Bellisario also shared in magazine that many people misunderstood this about her mental illness.

She said,

I found there were so many people who thought that it was about losing weight or being skinny, and I couldnt quite get them to understand that it was about control on a very, very literal level.

A film like, created by one of the biggesttelevision stars in the digital age, whois a survivor, will hopefully push eating disorders back into trending conversation and empower more people to form a full understanding.

hits all digital platforms and Video on Demand on July 18.

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