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Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 13, Issue 1, 2010

Abby Wilkerson
Pages 43-67
DOI: 10.5840/radphilrev20101314

“Obesity,” the Transnational Plate, and the Thin Contract

This article explores how the notion of obesity as health problem (1) functions to obscure or justify global inequities related to food production and access and (2) indicates still deeper problems of injustice and the neglected role of embodiment in analyses of justice and injustice, and notions of political subjecthood. Food, the need to eat, and the food system shape social existence profoundly yet are underexplored in philosophy, especially political philosophy. Drawing on disability theory and food studies, this article uses the crisis of body weight to explore relationships between neoliberalism, transnational capitalism, the industrialized agro-food system, and world health. Obesity discourse spotlights lifestyle choices of individuals, casting women especially as making irresponsible decisions for their families. A politically informed (and more medically sophisticated) perspective suggests that the real crisis is a social pact, which I term the Thin Contract, predicating personhood and full social inclusion on body type.