Polly Ann Williams, one of the women featured in Lauren Greenfield’s THIN, the HBO documentary about women battling eating disorders, died Friday, Feb. 8 in what media outlets are calling an apparent suicide. The 33-year-old Williams was an aspiring photographer and a lobbyist for the National Eating Disorders Association. Her family asks those who wish to make contributions in her memory to visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
On her website, Greenfield remembers WIlliams as “an extraordinary woman with unforgettable gifts. … In her short life, she touched more people than most people do in their lifetime and I know she was very proud of the contribution she made in the eating disorder community.”
During the making of THIN, which was filmed at a Florida center for women with eating disorders, Williams opened up to Greenfield and her crew and took them and viewers along with her during her rollercoaster battle with anorexia and bulimia.
At one point, Williams contributes what could arguably be described as the emotional climax of the movie, when she allowed Greenfield and crew to film her purging after a meal. She was eventually kicked out of the center after giving pills to a fellow patient and getting a tattoo.
Greenfield has used the documentary’s success to illustrate the plight of women with eating disorders. According to the THIN website, eating disorders affect five million people in the U.S., and more than 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa will die from the disease.