Polly Rests

Other posts on this topic:
Shelly Speaks, two years after THIN.
 Shelly from THIN documentary, 5 years later
More from one who knows


Many of you remember Polly from the HBO documentary THIN by Lauren Greenfield.


Image Source for all photos: Lauren Greenfield, THIN

Polly passed away on Friday evening. Please send your prayers to her friends and family. Take a moment to reflect upon the courage it took for Polly to let it all fly on THIN. I’m nothing next to this one, she was something, talk about guts.


“Dieting has always been a huge part of my life. I remember all the things that are signs of eating disorders being taught by my family; cut my food into really small pieces, and chew very slowly and take your time, and drink water in between so your stomach fills up faster. I was counting calories and fat by the time I was 11.


I had diet pills packed in my lunch in elementary school. When I was ten years old, my mother and my aunt paid me $100 each to lose 10 pounds. It wasn’t until recently I pulled out a photo album that I was like, Oh my Gosh. I really wasn’t fat. I’ve had a distorted view of myself  pretty much most of my life.

– Polly, THIN documentary, read more here.


Polly’s obituary from her local paper

Polly’s caring bridge site

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78 Responses to Polly Rests

  1. Paige says:

    That’s terrible! So sad!

    RIP Polly

  2. Jamie says:

    I’m so sad to hear about this! :( She was my favorite person on that film. She had guts and she told it like it was. I talked to her once on myspace through a message and she seemed really nice and she was really helpful too.

    RIP Polly. :(

  3. Josie says:

    RIP Polly.

    It’s amazing, she’s just some woman who lives thousands of miles from me and who i’ve never met, yet reading this was one great blow. It’s incredible how peoples honesty about their lives touches you so deeply.

  4. Limafan says:

    Thats so sad! how long ago was THIN filmed?

  5. kim says:

    i am so saddened and overwhelmed by this news. i watched polly on the THIN documentaries and read her journals on her site. i thought she was better with her ed, was her cause of death ed related or complications with her hand problems? this news has just depleted me and knocked me off my feet. i didnt know polly but felt as though i did and loved her fight and drive. she had inspiration and hope and she truly believed, i envied her, i still do. why polly? i will miss her. if her death is ed related it makes me wonder what the point of fighting it is. i am in complete shock and am filled with overwhelming sadness.

  6. Anon. says:

    Sad. One more person Renfrew chewed up and abandonded.

  7. Jamie says:

    Kim, I heard it was suicide….:(

  8. kim says:

    omg. maybe suicide is the only way some of us will ever get beyond ed. she was the one who gave me some hope and inspiration. i loved her fight. where does that leave us. i really miss her. i wish i had her courage and strength.

  9. Angelique says:

    Hearing this brought tears to my eyes, and I never even knew her. So very, very sad.

  10. kim says:

    i cant seem to function since i found out about polly. i thought answers would help but nothing will bring her back. i feel like my hope was buried with polly. god give me her strength and courage…

  11. Angelique says:


    We’ll ALL give you strength and courage. You can have all I can give…


    I’m curious… are you suggesting that Polly a) should have gone to a place other than Renfrew or b) should not have gone to treatment at all?

    Just curious. I’ve heard good things about Renfrew and have always understood that their care was exceptional and highly respected.

  12. kim says:

    i want to disappear like polly

  13. Amber/vanity900/cult66623 says:

    I loved polly, infact i was watching THIN yesterday iv seen it like 500 times, i don’t think they were cared for too well, most of the girls just wanted to be anorexic again and all of them went back to their old behaviors.

  14. hotsauce says:

    i felt a punch to my chest when i read this because like many other people, i sympathized so much with her on the documentary.

    but polly’s death is not a license for ANYONE to quit trying to get better. what good does that do anyone or anything? it’s a defeatist attitude. you are all stronger than you give yourselves credit for.

  15. Emily says:

    oh my god- i can’t belive polly is gone–

    im so upset- i watched that THIN doc like 3 times, and all those times, i thought what a strong girl polly was, and such a insperation- i feel like i want 2 die now, RIP Polly- u will be missed so much.

    im in complete shock about this, its such a shame- :( :( :(

    Emily xxx

  16. Katie says:

    :( That’s extremely sad. It made me feel sick to see that.

  17. ukchick says:

    rip polly

  18. Tatiana says:

    This was posted on the “Thin” forums:

    Posted on February 10, 2008 by Katherine

    I just read on Rosie O’DOnnel’s blog that Polly took her own life yesterday.

    I’m stunned. I’m saddened. I’m pissed. I’m just so…soo sad for her.

    If you go to Q&A section on Rosie’s site, on the right side, and then scroll down a few questions you’ll see that someone, claiming to be Polly’s best friend, made the announcement.

  19. Josie says:

    Kim – just because Polly gave up the fight doesn’t mean you should. For every person who dies of anorexia (or related suicide) there are 4 who make it through. Be one of those 4.
    Recovery from an ED and these related problems IS possible. I promise you that as someone in remission from her ED – i’ve been at a stable weight for over half a year now. There’s life beyond all this.

  20. Limafan says:

    Anyone know if Shelly has a blog?

  21. Catie says:

    I went to Renfrew… not with Polly but I had a tiny part in the book. I kept up with her journal while she was at Cambridge. I wish I had posted more.

    She is finally free now.


  22. Polly was beating her eating disorder. She wasn’t “cured” but she was beating it. I talked to Polly on the phone everyday for a while but she started distancing herself. She had a lot of “things” going on, not just her ED. In my opinion, and from what I know about Polly, I wouldn’t say that it was her ED that took her life but all of the other “things” she had going on. She was dealing with a hell of a lot and not being able to call pick up the phone and call her is really weird. It’s all so surreal.

    Miss ya, P-dawg.

  23. d says:

    That’s sad. She was cool as hell.
    RIP Polly

  24. Shelbie says:

    When I read this on another website this afternoon, I couldn’t stop crying. She was one of my favorite girls from Thin. I wonder what happened.

    Rest In Peace Polly.

  25. Abby says:

    I didn’t know her personally, but kept up with her blog. My heart goes out to her family.

    “My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.” Richard Adams, Watership Down

  26. Alex says:

    That is just awfull…So awfull. A persons whole life consumed with disorder. She didn’t deserve that at all. What is the world coming to?
    My deepest appologies to her family.
    Rest in peace…

  27. Jen says:

    I wrote a comment and my page turned before I could submit. ARGH!

    Polly did have guts, didn’t she? She was so much more than “Polly from THIN” and she was kicking some ED ass. I wish everyone got to know the Polly that I knew. She would keep me on the phone for HOURS, laughing until we cried. (PTC- You’ve experienced this!) This was one awesome chick.

    I’ll definitely always miss the P-Dawg.

  28. yanyb says:

    Polly was kickass. She’ll be missed <3

  29. kim says:

    hotsauce and josie, i am not giving up just because of polly. i like her have so many things going on that i cant seem to cope with and i like her just want to let go and find peace. im sorry if i offended you that was not my intent. there is just so much a person can take ya know. i am not that strong, i wish i were but i am not

  30. Kelsey says:

    R.I.P. Polly! I’m going to miss you so much. I can’t even function right now = (

  31. Mrs. B. says:

    Please do not give up. You can see what an impact that Polly had on others in her struggle. Even through struggles we touch so many others and give people hope.

  32. Josie says:

    As those who knew Polly personally must already know, it appears there was a lot too Polly…:

    “She was a lobbyist for the National Eating Disorders Association and an award-winning photographer.
    Polly loved children and butterflies. She used her love for children in her work, photographing children for LifeTouch studios with JC Penny Company. She received recognition for her photography by becoming the district event coordinator in Hixson LifeTouch Studios and by winning manager of the month, sales average achievement award and was featured in JC Penny’s master gallery photography book.
    Her sisters remember that her life motto was simply “Believe.””

    And Kim – try and imagine or pretend that you are a strong person, if only for a day. See what happens. To be writing here implies that you’ve come a hell of a long way already, showing you do have strength.

  33. Tracey Z says:

    Hey Girls,

    I know that Polly’s passing is extremely upsetting. I’m very upset too. Please, please don’t let it get you thinking that there is no way out, or that suicide is the only way out. There IS recovery from EDs. You WILL smile again! Life does get better. I’ve been recovered for many years. I still have ‘food issues’, and may always have them, but EDs no longer rule my life, and I’m no longer in HELL. The days do get brighter and life does get better. Hang in there, and as Polly said, ‘BELIEVE’!

    Tracey Z

  34. marlène says:

    Cara polly.
    you’ll be our strenght to not give up.I did not know you, but I have followed you story on the thin book and film, and I related a lot with you. I’m sorry.

  35. Rachel says:

    I didn’t know Polly, but I could have easily been Polly. I know what it’s like to feel like you cannot possibly endure another day, the thought that only in death can you find an escape or reprieve from a world of pain and grief. Polly is not to blame for her recourse, but we all must stress and emphasize that there is help available. Neither depression nor an eating disorder has to be a lifelong sentence!

    During the height of my eating disorder, I once had a friend suggest that I use the almighty willpower I displayed in starving and harming myself and refocus it instead on recovery. Recovery from an eating disorder or depression is hard, yes. But now that I am in a much better place, I can say that it has been worth the journey.

    Polly’s death is tragic, indeed, but I hope her legacy is not of a life cut tragically short, but rather one that inspires others to seek out recovery from an eating disorder or help with depression.

  36. Lee says:

    I cant belive shes gone. She was so strong, i think she was the strongest one in Thin, well, everybody was, but i think she really wanted to get well ! and then they kicked here out! So fucking stupied. I got so angry.
    Rest in peace Polly and maby you will meet my sister and that you will never again have to think about to get thin!

  37. kim says:

    im grateful polly shared her life with us. she is so much stronger then i could ever be. i envy her

  38. Mrs. B. says:

    Great post. You never cease to amaze me.
    Thank you.

  39. Cristina says:

    I don’t see anywhere that it was suicide. But even if it was, it would only of been appropriate for her to reach out to her friends/family/treatment team that she’s depressed. It’s like, she could of been saved from taking her own life, if that’s the case.

    I’m recovering from Anorexia– and I did watch “Thin”, but you could tell just from watching her on the film that she inspired others to get in touch with their own recovery.

  40. Josie says:

    Cristina – there’s very little friends/family/team can do if someone is suicidally depressed. That is speaking from personal experience, i’ve attempted suicide 3 times since november. There’s nothing anyone can say to make things any better, however hard people try. And the option is always there for me, even if my doctor only prescribes small amounts of drugs at a time to keep me from ODing, or my tutor looks after my studio craft-knives.

  41. Josie says:

    … people don’t jump out and save you when you’re in a crisis. You’d love to think they will do, but in reality we’re all on our own, and it’s hard to take, especially when you’re young and you’ve been used to being “looked after”.
    Also, Polly had attempted suicide before, i’d guess multiple times.

  42. tina says:

    I am so sad to hear this news. I watched Thin as well, and Polly seemed to have so much going for her and so much to offer. I admired her strength. My heart goes out to those who are grieving her loss.

  43. Mrs. B. says:

    Every time I hear you talk, it is hard for me to believe you are depressed. You are so incredibly smart and have so much to offer – even though I know you have been through so much pain. Do you know what an inspiration your life experience and struggles are to others?

  44. Monica says:

    Josie, when you feel that badly about everything, it really is hard to know that your life has importance, and that you actually touch those around you. I don’t even know you, but just by bravely contributing to this blog, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I (and I am sure a lot of others) hope for your recovery.

    Mrs. B, I give you so much credit for helping your daughter get the treatment she needs and for standing by her. I know that you had to face a lot of your own demons in doing so. I wish my parents had the ability to do that when I was going through my struggle. Keep strong!

  45. Mrs. B. says:

    It’s really tough, but I keep remembering that what she is dealing with is so much tougher, and she is so much younger and doesn’t have all the tools yet in place to manage.

    So, Monica….you are recovered? How did you attain your recovery…especially without supportive parents?

    Josie is recovered. She has other struggles, but she has her ED licked. She is totally amazing.

  46. Josie says:

    Monica – i hope it’s good things i made you think about :)

    Mrs B – you are so lovely, thankyou. I wouldn’t say my ED is completely ‘licked’ (i’ve never actually heard that phrase before, but i like it!), had tears in the canteen the other day from getting stressed over food, but nearly there!
    I’m not depressed in the ordinary sense of depressed anymore. I swing from mood to mood every few hours. In a low i’m impulsive, self-destructive, moody, hopeless, and feel so damn awful that i can’t do anything except cry, and i’d do anything to end it, but i know i have no reason to feel so horrendous and i’m still thinking quite rationally. The rest of the time i’m quite rational and fairly positive about things. It’s a strange way to be, but never boring.

  47. Mrs. B. says:

    “It’s a strange way to be, but never boring.”

    LOL. You sound like my daughter, who has a high level of impulsivity. She makes my head spin (AAAAAAAAAHHHH) but she’s NEVER boring either.

    OK, ladies. I’m nervous. My high impulsivity daughter is starting to be REAALLY tired of residential after 45 days. We had planned for 60. The IOP she will enter is not available for 30 days. She would have some support from her current program, but given her personality, I’m concerned that a “slip” will make her very upset and she will spiral…..I don’t want her on her own for a full month.

    Help talk me down please :)

  48. Monica says:

    Josie, I am thinking good thoughts about you! You sound courageous and honest. It seems like you are facing your depression and are actually feeling things instead of repressing them. That is brave! Many people never get to that point. I’m not saying that I want you to feel lousy, but if you let yourself feel and get support around that, you are a lot healthier than most. I don’t know how old you are (I’m guessing college), but you are a lot more in touch than I was when I was younger.

    Mrs. B, it’s a funny thing. I got better once I removed myself from familiar surroundings. In junior year of college I went abroad. I started seeing the world very differently and actually began to feel happier. I also read the book “Fat is a Feminist Issue” (old, I know!), which made me look at eating disorders completely differently. In a way, that book acted as a therapist. Of course, I would never tell anyone to just read a book! Had those around me actually cared, I would probably been in some kind of therapy or treatment (therapy came later in my life). I think there are many more options now, though I recognize they are often imperfect. Still, they are there and that’s a very good thing.

    I’m not sure what to tell you about your daughter. Will she be home with you for that month? If not, will she be in a safe place? Has the treatment center given you adequate skills in dealing with her one on one? Are you and your husband working together on this? Can you talk honestly with your daughter about your concerns? It seems like you’ve all done a lot of work, but of course, this is tenuous time. There must be someone at the center who can help with the transition. If not, demand that they help!

    All the luck in the world to you and your family.

  49. Josie says:

    Mrs B – Monica has given the best advice and questions i think hahaha .. though i also read feminist literature concerning weight/beauty, and that really changed my perceptions of myself and my ED for the better – that might be a route to take with your daughter if you don’t mind a bit of reading! I’m trying to get mamaV to go down the feminist route a bit, but no luck so far :)
    Share your concerns with your daughter. She might adjust her thinking about things if she knows how you feel about it, especially considering you have a lot of insight into her problem (which is massively admirable by the way!).

    Monica – i am glad it’s good things!! I did have ‘ordinary depression’ before, but then i started coming out of it and went into these crazy spins, and it is like i’m not numb anymore but instead feeling everything really intensely. I think it’s linked to my ED recovery – an ED numbs you to everything.
    I’m 20, and yep, at college studying art. To give you the horrid background – mood disorder &self-harm on/off for 6 years, ED age 14-19, anxiety disorders since i was 7, paranoid delusions for the past few months, abused at age 7, mum had cancer twice and died in terrible circumstances, a friend committed suicide. There ya go, never dull! And next on my life-list i hope is something more positive – art school maybe?!

  50. Mrs. B. says:

    Monica and Josie,
    Thank you so much. The next few months will be really really hard. My daughter came home from college and now lives at home. Self-torture is very hard to watch. While she has been residential, she has been safe. No diet pills, diuretics or laxatives. No restricting/binging/purging. Now there is a full month gap, which given her history scares me terribly….well not a total gap, she’ll have group a couple of times a week. She thinks she is ready, though. I need to trust her to make decisions that are right for her. Ultimately recovery is HER decision.

    Funny you guys think that the feminist perspective could be therapeutic. I think that one of the RC’s at her treatment center has been sharing books by a particular feminist author, who daughter has said she enjoys. I told her I wanted to read them, too.

    God, I love you guys. Be well.

  51. Monica says:

    Josie, I wrote a response to you earlier, but was having trouble posting to the site. In a nutshell, I said that you are amazing and obviously have tremendous strength given everything you have faced. You’re right–ED does numb you to everything. Now you’re feeling everything you pushed down. No easy walk, but you are still standing! Go to art school–express everything in your work. Find a mentor who can support you and your work. And of course, find a good therapist (if you don’t already have one) who will listen to your feelings and be a good guide in your recovery. I’m just blown away by you.

    Mrs. B, as a parent you are in such a tough spot. But you said something that was so on target–it is your daughter’s recovery. So hard to trust that she won’t harm herself… you’re in the impossible position of having to step back, provide support, and demonstrate that you do trust her to make the right decisions. This is going to be a test for you and her. It truly is a pivotal time. And you won’t really know what to do until you’re in it. Little comfort, I know, but I really get a sense that the both of you are going to be o.k. Hang in there!

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  53. Mrs. B. says:

    Josie, I agree with Monica. Do your art school! Awesome! I think that you told me before that you liked your art therapy. That’s my daughter’s favorite part of treatment. She has always been so very creative. I hope that she will continue her art, as well.

    Monica, thanks for your words of wisdom. My daughter called last night and we had such a nice talk. She is so amazing. She is thinking about switching from pre-med to social work. I think it might be a better fit for her, although they are both very stressful. I think that her “creative quirkiness” might be more acceptable to people in the social work arena!

  54. Josie says:

    Monica & Mrs B – you’re both so sweet <3
    I did my first art school interview and it went well :). 1 down, 3 to go!
    In case you’re interested (or have a bored moment!) i’ve got a blog here http://king-josie.livejournal.com/ which i’m obsessed with! I’m always writing-writing-writing, it’s therapeutic. I’ve also post lots of photos and art, including my most recent – my studio and most recent work http://king-josie.livejournal.com/449448.html :)

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  57. Rachel says:

    I just read the news about Polly. It is so sad. My heart goes out to her soul and her family. May she finally rest in peace.

    Josie, you are an amazing woman. You are doing fantastically, and I know of the mood swings of which you speak. Hell, our lives could be parallel. In fact, they may very well be. I am at the point in my life now to where I need to deal with these mood swings and issues and figure out what is causing them. What is causing the dis-ease in my mind and body? Well, I just plain don’t know. I do know that it’s time to confront them, and that in itself is making things easier.

    I don’t know if make a darn bit of sense, but I hope that what I do say can help. :-) Be at peace, dear. Refocus your energies to finding positive brain energy and inner nirvana. That goes for anybody.

  58. kim says:

    rest in peace polly. i hope you are up with the butterflies xxxkim

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  60. kim says:

    i miss you pollyxxx

  61. Alexaaa says:

    Hey to all who reads this.

    As many of you know, i was a regular reader of mamav’s blog. im havent been here in months and nobody noticed it.

    Im posting here because i miss Polly. I talked to her on myspace a few time and i was following her Caring Bridge and Blogspot. She was lovely and i dont kow why you (mamav) just posted the “bad” things about her (deeply i know that its what your blog is about, but still hurted me i dont know why.)

    Im so sad right now and have so many things in my mind. Today im going to end with all my misery, im anxious that i’ll be finally in peace.

    I really hope that everyone here get the happiness that all you deserve. I will think of you all until the final moment.

    i know im quite dramatic, but hey this is my last post ad im not gonna take back anything of what i said.

    Love you all.


  62. kim says:

    alexa, i have missed you!! im sorry i didnt know how else to get in touch with you. i miss polly too. i felt so connected to her maybe because she tried so hard but in the end she just couldnt do it. i feel that way now too. please dont give up. you are not alone, i am feeling the same way you are. i hate not fitting anywhere in the world. i feel so alone even when im surrounded by people. my meds run out soon and im selling my store at the end of the month. i am really hopeful i can wait til then but im not sure if i can even hang on that long. it sucks to feel like i have failed everyone. i feel so alone and empty and now im in my i cant stop crying mode. weird though that no one in my life here notices anything is wrong or different, although i do try to hide it and avoid everyone. please dont give up alexa, im glad you are here. i love you. xxxkim

  63. kim says:

    polly, i feel somehow connected to you. maybe because i feel the desperation you felt. i dont know. im sorryxxx

  64. Su says:

    Polly–sweet girl,

    My heart is broken. I was so enveloped by your life force–your willingness to press on against what seemed to be the unending and haunting under currents of this disease–how it manifests itself as the very fiber of existence. I know only too well the dichotomy you lived in; on one level it brought you the control and comfort you sought–yet it poisoned you to the point where it was your sole identification. Honey, you WERE more than that. So very much so. Tonite, my entire body is overflowing with sadness strangely inter-cut with the music of verse and I am reminded once more . …”that amidst fierce flames, the golden lotus has been planted”. I will light a candle and look for your spirit in the eyes of kind strangers.


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  69. Ansjah says:

    I don’t want to blame but yeah.. I feel immensly angry about renfrew sending her away. I hope they feel guilty as fuck.

  70. very tragic. my heart goes out to her family and friends. thank god for my recovery I remember every day what a gift ive been given. much love sent out to all that were affected. love Kathleen t

  71. Destiny says:

    OMG she was so motivation she gave me laughter during this film.

  72. Melissa says:

    Just found this site; was wanting an update on the girls in Thin. Very sad to hear of Polly’s death. I’m commenting because of the post/comment by Alexaaa on March 4, 2008 in which she told this board that she was going to kill herself. Anyone ever hear from her again?

  73. Jessica says:

    This breaks my heart. I’ve watched THIN over 15 times and just recently watched it again today. I completely forgot about Polly passing and decided to google her to see where she was today. I’m so devastated. I wasn’t lucky enough to know her personally but I am quite affected by it still. What a brave, strong, beautiful soul. She was a fighter and I truly believe she would want anyone struggling with this awful disease to do their best to recover. God. I’m just so sad.

  74. Tina says:

    Rest In Peace you gorgeous soul <3:(

  75. Pamela S. says:


    What happened, girl? Why did you leave us so soon? When watching the film, THIN, I thought about how brave and honest you were. More than anyone else, from what we were allowed to see, you seemed the most endearing, the most likely to make it. I think that is why it was such a shock to me to learn of your death. :-(

    I also noticed that both your lists – shown above – were missing some very essential words (which made me cry even more): LOVE, JOY, PEACE, HOPE, HAPPINESS, but most of all Love. Anorexia neither gave you love nor did it cost you love. Why wasn’t there anyone in your life giving you love, REAL love, unconditional love? Maybe there was, idk. . . .

    RIP, Polly.

    Covering your soul with love.

  76. Pamela S. says:


    What happened, girl? Why did you leave us so soon? If I had been your friend, P, I would’ve had your back from day-one. When watching the film, THIN, I thought about how brave and honest you were. More than anyone else, from what we were allowed to see, you seemed the most endearing, the most likely to make it. You kept it real. I think that is why it was such a shock to me to learn of your death. :-(

    I also noticed that both your lists – shown above – were missing some very essential words (which made me cry even more): LOVE, JOY, PEACE, HOPE, HAPPINESS, but most of all Love. Anorexia neither gave you love nor did it cost you love. Why wasn’t there anyone in your life giving you love, REAL love, unconditional love? Maybe there was, idk. . . .

    RIP, Polly.

    Covering your soul with love.

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