This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores why early modern noble women starved themselves, how they understood and communicated their behaviour, and how it was interpreted and received by their contemporaries. It seeks to offer a wide-ranging analysis of early modern perspectives on the encultured female body, filling a current lacuna in the history of women’s experience of their bodies and in studies of self-starving behaviours alike. The book offers both an intimate understanding of subjective individual experiences of embodiment and aims to make some larger suggestions about why and how women – even privileged women – might have needed to use the body as a site of articulation and negotiation. It also seeks to create a coherent if eclectic methodology to present the multifarious, multivalent means by which self-starvation was, is, and could be understood and represented by its practitioners and its witnesses, in relation to its own and later cultural contexts.