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Parents 'need to know' about new Netflix release To The Bone

13 July 2017

New Zealand’s Chief Censor has just released an official classification and warning for the new Netflix movie, To The Bone, which launches here on Netflix today.

The film is about eating disorders and focuses on a 20-year-old woman played by Lily Collins as she struggles to overcome a long-term, near fatal case of anorexia.

After consulting with frontline experts on eating disorders, the Classification Office has applied an RP16 classification, with an accompanying note “shows realistic, harmful behaviour with risk of imitation”.

“The RP16 rating reflects the reality that for younger people in particular, guidance from an adult, parent or guardian is needed to ensure that they view the material critically, and have an opportunity to talk about any issues that this material might present for them.”

“This note also reflects our research findings from dozens of interviews with young people, where they told us they are looking for clear, explicit guidance notes,” Mr Shanks says.

Mr Shanks describes To The Bone as a well-researched portrayal of a serious condition that affects many New Zealanders, often with serious consequences.

“There may be a risk of young people imitating the unhelpful behaviours depicted and the content may be triggering for a small population of vulnerable people, but we don’t believe the film's primary effect is to encourage or glamorise eating disorders to any significant extent.

“Importantly, this film presents an opportunity for parents and guardians in particular to have real and relevant discussions with young people who may be at risk.”

The Classification Office was alerted to the content of the film by concerned professionals working with young people who had seen Netflix’s advance publicity. The concerns raised included the potential for vulnerable young people to emulate any harmful behaviour depicted – especially if the behaviour was glamorised. Meanwhile the Office had also observed a level of international concern from experts and commentators based on the pre-release publicity.

Mr Shanks commended Netflix for their co-operation and willingness to make the film available to the New Zealand Classification Office ahead of its release so audiences here could be adequately warned about its content.

Help available:

If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, there is help available. Click on the following links for further information:

  • EDANZ offers help, support and understanding for people with eating disorders and their families.
  • The Central Region Eating Disorder Service (CREDS) website is a rich and practical resource if you have concerns that you or a family member might have an eating disorder.
  • General information – including about access to eating disorder treatment services can also be found at the Ministry of Health website.
  • The Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) collaboratively developed and published ‘The 9 Truths of Eating Disorders” to improve public understanding of the true nature of eating disorders. The 9 Truths – along with other helpful information on eating disorders – can be found on their website.