Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero has always had a hard time losing weight. “My uncontrollable exterior has determined my place in society and I have often felt left out and awkward,” she writes on her website. “For this series, I photograph myself in socially engaged spaces to examine how my body fits into society. I choose compositions within social sites: restaurants, stores, pools and other places of leisure. I attempt to juxtapose my place in the scene with issues that contribute to my weight gain.”
This awareness led to her photography project entitled Wait Watchers, a series of Morris-Cafiero’s self-portraits and more importantly, the looks strangers gave her.
It all began with another project she was working on entitled Something to Weigh. She writes:
“I decided to photograph myself sitting alone on the Times Square stairs to capture my solitude in a busy crowd. After developing the film, I noticed that a man was standing behind me being photographed by an attractive blonde woman. Rather than pose for her camera, he was sneering at me behind my back. Five minutes later and at another location, another man turns his back to gawk at me while I am photographing myself sitting at a café table.”
She noticed a similar reaction in a photograph snapped just a few minutes after this was taken, so she came up with her next idea:
“I have always been aware of people making faces, commenting and laughing at me about my size. I now reverse the gaze and record their reactions to me while I perform mundane tasks in public spaces. I seek out spaces that are visually interesting and geographically diverse. I try to place myself in compositions that contain feminine icons or advertisements. Otherwise, I position myself and the camera in a pool of people…and wait.“
She does everyday, mundane things as the camera snaps, but she was really hoping to capture interesting expressions on passing strangers, and that she did.
In this photo, the blonde woman holding the little girl’s hand seems to be glaring at Morris-Cafiero, but that’s perfectly normal in New York. Anyone who stops in the middle of the street and disrupts the steady flow of pedestrians gets glared at. The first time I was in New York, I stopped to take a photo in the middle of the street because I wanted a specific angle that I couldn’t get on the sidewalk. Surprise, surprise, I got a couple of glares as well, and I only paused for 2 seconds max.
Do you think their reactions towards her are because of her size? Tell us what you think!