Health

Images Capture What It's Like to Be Fat in Public

May 27th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

A photo series and accompanying book are confronting the stigma that fat people face when they go about their everyday lives in public.

Haley Morris-Cafiero, a photographer based in Tennessee, gained attention for her photo series, "Wait Watchers" over the past two years or so, and those images have been adapted into her new book, "The Watchers."

For Wait Watchers, she set up a camera to take self-portraits of herself in public places with the intention of reflecting on her weight in those spots, but her project took a surprising turn when she started noticing the unkind reactions that ensued from her public appearances.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

"After I had the film developed, I looked at the images and found that a man was standing behind me and appeared to be sneering at me," she wrote on her Kickstarter page, which resulted in the successful publication of her book. "I never thought that I would capture a glance that can last a microsecond."

Her photos swiftly went viral, and many commenters told her that her life "would be better if [she] lost weight and got a makeover," she wrote on Kickstarter. "The unsolicited criticism inspired the next phase of the Wait Watchers series."

She told Mic in 2014 that she planned to include new images in her book.

"The newer images are me responding to anonymous critics in the viral articles who say that my life would be better if I got a makeover and lost weight," she told Mic, adding that she loves how she looks and hopes to send a message about positive body image to other people.

Some of her more recent photos show her "doing what society wants [her] to do: exercise and get a makeover," she wrote on Kickstarter.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

"By attempting to 'improve' myself, I am engaging in the conversation of body acceptance and idealized beauty standards that unrealistic and unwanted by many people," she wrote.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

Despite the criticism from some, she has a lot of supporters who believe that she gives a voice to overweight people:

Facebook

Her current exhibition, titled, "Now You See Me," will continue until July 2 at the TJ Boulting gallery in London.

Check out Morris-Cafiero's website for more of her photos and to get a copy of her book.

[H/T Mic]

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