A photographer who set about documenting what her weight gain meant to her came up with a side project when she accidentally captured someone mocking her size.
Haley Morris-Cafiero was working on her Something To Weigh series when she decided to capture her solitude in a busy crowd with a photograph.
Writing on her website she explains: “After developing the film, I noticed that a man was standing behind me being photographed by an attractive blonde woman.
This image inspired the 'Wait Watchers' series
“Rather than pose for her camera, he was sneering at me behind my back.”
Morris-Cafiero, who has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, experienced the same treatment a mere five minutes later and hence Wait Watchers was born.
She said: “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.”
Speaking to Fox19, the 37-year-old describes her project as “a social experiment to see how people equate image to identity.”
Writing for Salon, Morris-Cafiero says: “Though I did go through phrases of food restriction and over-exercise, I came to realise that I shouldn’t punish myself for something I can’t control.
“Self criticism is a waste of time.”
Morris-Cafiero, who is head of photography at the Memphis College of Art, adds: “That doesn’t mean the world is comfortable with how I look…. I’m constantly fighting strangers’ criticisms that I am lazy and slow-witted, or that I am an overly emotional slob.
“I suspect that if I confronted these narrow-minded people, my words would have no effect. So, rather than using the attackers’ actions to beat myself up, I just prove them wrong. The camera gave me my voice.”
The project is reminiscent of photographer Jen Davis, who chose to capture her lowest, loneliest moments for the world to see.
Davis’s self portraits began a decade ago when she took a photo of herself on a beach with friends during Spring Break.
In "Pressure Point" (2002), Davis sits fully-clothed and unsmiling, surrounded by friends in bathing suits. “I was shocked by the ability I had to kind of freeze that moment, to take a mundane but painful moment that was able to be described in the image," she told Slate.
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