Research in the 1990s, using in-depth interviews with young women who self-starved and binge-purged (Eckermann, 1994a) found con¯icting imperatives between a search for selfhood (the body as a project of the unique self ) and a quest for sainthood (goodness by denying or degrading the body) in constructions of young women's identities. This tension paralleled both contradictory values in discourses on health and wellbeing at the time, and theoretical tensions around explanations for the phenomena in academic, professional, therapeutic and popular literature at the end of the twentieth century. Emanating from the discipline of sociology, the study revealed major shortcomings in the capacity of this single discipline to account for women's embodiment and led me to critical feminist theory.