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Thin

A compelling film that delves into the lives of young women with eating disorders, the HBO documentary Thin offers sobering insight into why anyone would sacrifice her health for the pursuit of unrealistic body perfection. Set in a Florida clinic that specializes in treating patients with bulimia (binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting) and anorexia (consuming barely enough to survive), the film introduces viewers to four women. Shelly, 25, is a psychiatric nurse who weighs 86 pounds. Talking to her therapist, she says, "I used to have a personality." Alisa, 30, is a mother of two small children who joined the Air Force to lose weight. Though she seems to be the perfect patient, it's obvious her eating disorder has taken control of her life. She just wants to be thin, she says, and "if it takes dying to get there, so be it." Polly, 29, checked herself in for treatment after a suicide attempt. The cause? She had allowed herself to eat two pieces of pizza. Brittany, 15, grew up watching her mother--who also has an eating disorder--behave compulsively around food. Once weighing 185 pounds, Brittany dropped to almost half her weight in a year, causing severe liver damage. When her insurance runs out, the teenager has to leave the clinic. The last group meeting she attends with her fellow patients is heartbreaking. As she sobs, it's obvious she'd rather die of starvation than risk being heavy again. Even when a 28-year-old patient tries to convince her that she is young enough to change her life around, Brittany cries that death is a better option than being fat. Filmed in a matter-of-fact manner by director Lauren Greenfield, Thin offers hope, but no happily-ever-after ending for these women. It will be a struggle for them to eat--and not purge--once they leave the clinic. And the documentary leaves viewers hoping the best for these tortured women, but realizing that some of them might not make it. --Jae-Ha Kim

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