Photographer captures strangers giving her disapproving looks, as she photographs herself for “Wait Watchers” project.
In a society that serves people the idea of physical acceptance through images of figures that are almost impossible to reach, Memphis based photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero goes brave, while photographing herself in crowded areas and capturing strangers giving her judgmental stares.
The battle with weight
The 37-year-old photographer has always been aware of her physical appearance. For Morris-Cafiero, life is an ongoing battle not so much with weight itself, but with the never ending temptations. “My biggest temptation has to be donuts. They contain all of the caloric evils in one round, portable container: fried, bread and sugar”, the artist declared for The Daily Mail.
Ever since she was a child, the photographer felt left out and judged because of her body, which she calls her “uncontrollable exterior”, a situation that it appears to have remained the same after she grew up. She talks about it on her website: “I have always had a hard time controlling my weight. My uncontrollable exterior has determined my place in society and I have often felt left out and awkward”.
Intolerance busted on camera
Even though a large portion of the American population is overweight, people don’t seem to let their guard down and regard obese or overweight individuals with more tolerance. This is what Haley Morris-Cafiero, photographer and head of the photography department at Memphis College of Art, showed in her project entitled “Wait Watchers”.
Morris-Cafiero said that inspiration hit her when she was working on another project and decided to take a photograph of herself while sitting on some steps in Times Square. After processing the film, she noticed that a man was standing behind her, posing for a woman, but instead of facing his photographer, he was making strange faces behind Cafiero’s back. This made her decide to capture people’s reactions to her body while doing day by day things, such as eating, or talking on the phone. She said: “I’d heard people comment about me, but I never thought I could capture it on film.”
It is not clear whether all the people captured in her images react to her body weight or to the fact that she is taking photographs of herself in public. Some even share the opinion that the photographer is rather arrogant for believing that people think anything about her. Maybe so, but one thing is for sure: the photographs show that there is a reaction to the very ordinary things that she does in public, which is what “Wait Watchers” is all about: raising the question of whether the stares had existed if the actions were made by someone with a different body figure.