Woman’s photos reveal what it’s really like to be overweight

The project was a way to examine how we look at other people

Rachel Hosie@rachel_hosie
Monday 16 October 2017 12:30

Whether you’re particularly tall, small, skinny or muscular, when you look slightly different to what is considered to be “average”, you often draw the eye as you go about your daily life.

This is something photographer, performance artist and activist Haley Morris-Cafiero from Memphis, Tennessee has long known.

Morris-Cafiero’s photo project, The Watchers, features pictures of her in various public places around the world, taken over six years.

In the photos, we see the revealing expressions of members of the public, who often appear to feel shock, disdain or merely intrigue towards Morris-Cafiero.

“For a lifestyle audience, the goal was for us to see how we look at other people,” she told The Independent.

“I have to say that I do not know what the people in the photographs were thinking. But I chose the images that appear to capture the stranger looking at me in a critical or questioning way.”

The project began by accident back in 2010, when Morris-Cafiero noticed a man sneering at her from behind in a photo taken in Times Square.

But she’d long experienced glances and staring from the public while going about her daily life.

Over the past six years she’s taken thousands of photos by setting up her camera in public places and catching members off the public as they see her.

Of course, the photos have provoked mixed reactions - some people have praised Morris-Cafiero for encouraging conversation about fat-shaming, whereas others simply criticise her for her weight.

“Fat lump of lard. Stay off the donuts and go running. Makes me ill just looking at her,” reads one comment.

But such remarks have left Morris-Cafiero frustrated rather than anything else:

“Would you walk up to me and and tell me these things that you are posting online? Would you really?” she asks.

Despite the glances, we can’t imagine anyone would say such awful things to a stranger in person.

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