Society has a bizarre fascination with weight and body shape and although our attitudes might’ve changed somewhat over the years, many people are still intolerant towards larger people.
This has been perfectly highlighted by photographer, performance artist and activist Haley Morris-Cafiero, who set out to show the reality of being overweight through her project ‘The Watchers’.
For the past six years Haley has been travelling the world and taking pictures of herself and other people’s reactions towards her body shape. She recently told the Metro:
The origins of the project were serendipitous.
In 2010, I was working on a photo project where I was taking self-portraits in social spaces.
Those images were investigating my place in these spaces and had nothing to do with anyone else.
I set up a shot on the Coca-Cola steps in Times Square and when I got the film back two weeks later, I found the image that became “Anonymity Isn’t for Everyone”.
She says she’s had many reactions to the project, with some people thanking her for sharing the images while others decided to ruthlessly cyber-bully her.
The project is really about how we use our gaze to communicate our opinions of others. So to me, it is not just about being overweight; it is about how our identity is embedded in our image. So it’s about being overweight, gender, clothing choices, etc.
I also have to say that I do not know what the people are thinking or reacting to in the photographs. They are strangers. But the images are meant to start a conversation about how we use the gaze.
It certainly is an eye-opening photo collection and one that highlights what it is like to stand out from the crowd. Apparently Haley is now working on a project that will provide a response to the bullying she’s experienced as a result of these photos – I can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for that.
For more photo sets, check out ‘Alcohol and England’ – an equally hilarious and depressing collection.