Haley Morris-Cafiero is a photographer/college professor in Memphis, Tennessee. In the summer of 2011, she was traveling with students in Barcelona, Spain when she noticed two men were making fun of her through the reflection of a mirrored building. They made gestures with their hands to suggest just how much bigger she was than the thin girl stand next to her.
“They painted her figure in the air like an hourglass. Then they painted my shape like the convex curves of a ball,” she said on her article Pictures of people who mock me.
“I’ve been hearing comments like this for much all my life. Maybe someone else would have yelled at them, or shrunk inside. But I don’t get upset when this happens.
“I pulled my camera, and set up a shoot”.
For over a year, Haley’s been taking pictures of strangers’ reactions to her in public for a series called Wait Watchers. She wanted to capture something she already had felt firsthand. She says that if large women in historical art pieces were walking around today they would be scorned and ridiculed.
Haley’s struggle with her body began after she graduated high school, after she had stopped playing soccer. She saw her weight doubled in just a matter of weeks. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism – a condition caused by abnormally low thyroid hormone production that enlists weight gain as a symptom. Haley is truly happy with herself, but she explains that the world is not comfortable with the way she looks. She constantly battles strangers’ criticisms that she’s lazy, slow-witted and that she’s overly emotional.
The concept of Wait Watcher started when Haley was shooting in Times Square, New York, where she’d been photographing a series of public spaces where she’s most uncomfortable – swimming pools and restaurants.
Haley doesn’t feel hurt when she gazes through the images she captures. “I feel like I am reversing the gaze back on to them to reveal their gaze”.
“I’m fine with who I am and don’t need anyone’s approval to live my life”. Fine words by Haley. We feel that every woman should also live life according to their own rules. We do not live to be accepted by people who aim to judge every inch of our body. To see more of Haley’s work, visit her website here.
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