The cultural experience of food, gender and the body in modern culture, then, is fundamentally different from that of the early modern person, particularly the early modern woman. The very opposite was true in early modern culture, however. Far from cultural universality or implicit prescription, the food behaviour of early modern women who starved themselves could only be reconciled with difficulty into existing paradigms or metanarratives and contributed to the emergence of others. Given that anorexia nervosa is a well-known and increasingly common condition, it is worth using this opportunity to draw a clear distinction between the starvation-related behaviour of early modern women and this modern phenomenon, a syndrome that was the subject of almost simultaneous publications in England, and France in the early 1870s. Modern anorexics’ food refusal belongs to a cultural context that ideologically approves restricted eating for women, whose bodies are often constructed as objects rather than subjects of sexuality.