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Yofi Tirosh Lecture: "The Right to Be Fat"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
12:00 AM
202 S. Thayer, room 2022, Ann Arbor

Policy discussions about the increasing weight of Americans preoccupy public health experts, scientists, economists, and the popular media. In the legal field, however, discussions have tended to focus on whether weight should be a protected category under antidiscrimination law and on cost-benefit models for creating incentives to lose weight. In this lecture, Tirosh will propose that body size should be legally framed as a liberty-based right. She will maintain that there is no justification to exclude body size from the scope of liberty, because important aspects of the embodied experience of “being of body size” correspond to the fundamental rationales of the liberty principle.

Drawing on the critique of mind-body dualism, and on the philosophical tradition of phenomenology, Tirosh will offer a new framework for understanding the experience of being a fat subject of the law; this framework goes beyond the medical conceptualization of body size and explores the nuanced ways in which body size, shape, and ways of eating and moving the body have intimate meanings for legal subjects. Practical dilemmas, such as the legitimacy of charging fat passengers for two airplane tickets or whether weight-based employment discrimination should be prohibited, will also be discussed.

Yofi Tirosh is an assistant professor at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, where she teaches employment and labor law, jurisprudence, gender and law, food law, and antidiscrimination law. She is currently a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and has also served as a research fellow at NYU Law School. Tirosh is thrilled to revisit the Institute for the Humanities, where she was a graduate fellow while writing her doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan Law School (2004). Her research focuses on legal regulation of the body, affirmative action, and law and language. Her work appeared in venues such as the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, and Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics. Tirosh clerked for Israel’s Supreme Court, and is also an active member of Israeli human rights organizations.