Category Beauty to the Bone

Banting: The Original Keto Diet

The figure that was most sought after in the nineteenth century is described in Beauty and Hygiene as ‘[a] slender, well-proportioned figure’…and, indeed, as one writer has recently said, “most of the modern fashions are adapted for slim women rather than stout.”’ Since fashion catered mainly for slender women, to avoid ‘superfluous stoutness’, women not […]

The ‘Invention’ of Anorexia Nervosa

Prior to its diagnosis, anorexia, or loss of appetite, had been thought to be a symptom of another, primary disease. It was given the status of an independent condition by the eminent physician Dr William Withey Gull, who asserted that anorexia was distinct from the weight loss that resulted from a separate disorder such as […]

A Brief History of Restrictive Eating

During the Middle Ages, self-starving practices were commonly undertaken by both sexes as a form of religious observance, particularly during Lent where the control and reduction of food intake was culturally institutionalised. This provided women with the means of experiencing bodily suffering through spiritual fasting. Both Caroline Walker Bynum and Rudolph Bell have explored the […]