chapter  4
‘Beginning’: taking themselves in hand
Pages 28

According to Richard Ekins, in his study of the career of cross-dressers and sexchangers – inspired by the works and methodology of Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss – anyone observing children will see games involving the feminization of the male body, such as dressing up (Ekins 1997). When the people who play these games later forget about them, the games are not ‘beginnings’. When, however, this ‘male femaling’ persists, these initial moments take on huge retrospective importance (62). This underscores the extent to which the very notion of ‘beginning’ presupposes a retrospective stance and how important interviews are as a way of approaching careers, trajectories or any individual process that takes place over time.1 However, taking a retrospective stance does not mean arbitrarily constructing a beginning that was not experienced as a significant moment at the time. For a beginning to be reconstructed, it has to be defined on the basis of a break in continuity at the very least – an outside event, a change in practices, etc. In the case of the anorexia career, this discontinuity is not easy to pinpoint. In this sense, just realizing that there is a beginning is a key issue in itself. In my study, the question was whether the interviewees identified a beginning to their anorexia and, if they did, what that beginning was.2