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 Post subject: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:48 pm 
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http://www.petapixel.com/2013/02/11/wom ... in-public/

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Memphis-based photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero has long been aware of strangers making fun of her behind her back due to her size. So aware, in fact, that she has turned the whole concept into a full-blown photography project. Titled Wait Watchers, the series consists of Morris-Cafiero’s self-portraits in public in which strangers can be seen in the background giving her strange looks and/or laughing.

The project was born when Morris-Cafiero was working on a separate project titled Something to Weigh. For one of the photos in that project, she snapped a self-portrait while sitting on some steps in Times Square.

After processing the film, she noticed that there was a man behind her making a face at her while being photographed by a female friend

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:32 am 
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I love this. And I really hope it will make people rethink how cruel they can be in the name of "humour".

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:29 am 
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Naysayer Mars Time but honestly whenever I see anyone talking a photo of someone else I find it really hard not to look, and most of those faces seemed like just passerby's trying to get a look. I think it's pretty rude to be shaming these people who are just out and about their business. The idea of the project is great, and some photos do seem to show people being judgmental, but it bothers me that that it's being implied that all the looks are cruel.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:35 am 
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I was going to say something similar to what Mars said. It took me a little longer to find the right words.

I'm sure that the artist experiences a great deal of public shaming, and I don't want to minimize the impact or the reality of fat discrimination. But I'm not sure that these photographs are the best way to express that, since photographs represent a single decontextualized moment. It's hard to tell what's going on in the photographs, and people are often caught making odd faces on film. I'm sure that many of these people are reacting to her weight and I'm sure that those reactions are serious, but I don't think these photographs prove that.

That said, I do think that the idea behind the project is something that needs to be expressed. I'm just not sure that this particular project is successful.


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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:37 am 
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I agree, Mars. It's not clear to me in every picture that they are even looking at her. And god knows I have some random strange facial expressions.

I'm not discounting the idea of the project or that people are cruel due to sizism, I just don't love this execution.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:12 am 
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Do you think it would be better if it were on film? Kind of like the show What Would You Do?

I'm not sure that the people can see the camera. That information didn't really seem clear to me from the text.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:20 am 
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I can identify with some of these photos. As a person who has received a lot of harassment (and occasional violence) as a result of body size it's really easy to perceive almost every look I receive in public as discriminatory. When receiving questionable treatment from another person I have to ask myself 'Would this person have acted this way if they were dealing with someone who wasn't of a different body size/shape' and most of the time my reasoning tells me no (I fully acknowledge that the emotions triggered by past harassment can lead to irrational thinking in these situations, but in my experience the irrationality is only very occasional.). Having said that, I agree that some of the photos appear to show nondiscriminatory curious glances from passers-by.

I had a look at her site and some of the photos there are really beautiful.


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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:48 am 
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It's really hard to say what's going on in some of the photos, but I can tell you that not once since Ive been thin has a door slammed shut in my face. This was a regular occurrence when I was fat. Once, I was going into the post office at Christmas time, and the guy saw me but did not hold the door even though I was three steps behind. The door hit me and the packages, nobody helped pick up the packages either; they stepped around.

Not once in a supermarket did anybody I asked for help getting an item off a top shelf actually help. They would give me a look and scuttle away. Now? I don't have to ask.

When I first lost weight, pretty much none of the men I worked with DAILY until I had 2 months off recognized me, even when told I had lost a lot of weight. The women all did. I didn't exist to any of those men, even though we interacted for work, until I lost weight. Before one I had worked with three evenings a week in the tutoring center for a year or two was told who I was, he tried to hit on me.

I honestly did not believe the extent of sizeist treatment until it was gone. All I had to do was lose 147lbs to be treated as a valid human worthy of a modicum of respect. people like to say its because when you lose weight you are "more outgoing." Oh, bullshiitake.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:24 am 
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Mars wrote:
Naysayer Mars Time but honestly whenever I see anyone talking a photo of someone else I find it really hard not to look, and most of those faces seemed like just passerby's trying to get a look. I think it's pretty rude to be shaming these people who are just out and about their business. The idea of the project is great, and some photos do seem to show people being judgmental, but it bothers me that that it's being implied that all the looks are cruel.


Yeah, I saw this when CQ linked it on FB. I think the her clothes are kind of different which can invite stares and if you are stopping in public to have a picture taken of you, it is really, really hard to stare.

Do I think fat people aren't judged? No. I just think that if the woman had been skinny, she would've received strange looks as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:08 am 
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i can see it from both sides- whether the strange looks were intentional or not (Lard knows i also have some strange looks in photos), i think there's no denying that there is a lot of fat hate (and non-style compliance hate, for lack of a better word) and the artist is trying to catch it as best she can.
Not to minimize her experience, I also find the women-checking-out-women look interesting- i know i often will look at someone's shoes or necklace or hair or whatever, and probably if you took a pic of me doing it, i would look like a jerk too.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:19 am 
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I can see it from both sides, too. Sizism is absolutely a thing; I've experienced being rail-thin and being quite zaftig and can say that I am absolutely, without a doubt, treated differently now. Though I have to say, I feel like people stared at me more when I was thin, and I enjoy the feeling of being more anonymous now that I am fat. I got so much unwanted attention being thin, now I rarely get harassed on the street.

I feel like some of these photos are just catching people's genuine curiosity at someone stopped, sometimes making an odd face, in a crowd. I might look at someone bending down, or squinting at a map, if they were stopped in the middle of a busy area. Just out of fleeting curiosity, not because I was making a judgment about the person's body. I feel like perhaps she's transferring a bit of her own feelings, feeling like everyone is staring at her because she's fat, into the project; when it could be far more innocent than that.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:33 am 
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Mr. Shankly wrote:
Do you think it would be better if it were on film? Kind of like the show What Would You Do?

I'm not sure that the people can see the camera. That information didn't really seem clear to me from the text.


From her website, I think they can't see the camera. She says she sets the camera up and waits. Some look as if, yeah they have to notice the camera, but there's also definitely photos where the person would not know she's the one being photographed if they could see the camera, and definitely not innocent passerby looks, like the one where she's sitting in the cafe perfectly normal like and the guy twists himself around to look at her.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:04 am 
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I agree that this can go both ways. I know that sizism exists, and straddling the border between overweight and obese, I've experienced it too, although certainly to a lesser degree than the experiences lavawitch describes. I also don't doubt that some of the people captured in these pictures are being asparagi and making fun of her. (The cops? what the fizzle? And the young girls laughing. Yes.) But in some, I can't even see where someone is looking at her. Like the picture taken near Cloud Gate in Chicago, or where she's stopped to take a picture near Central Park. And in some, she's put herself in a position where anyone would be bound to be stared at, like stopping to send a text message at the end of a busy crosswalk, or sitting, staring ahead on a swing while not swinging. A lot of the rest are questionable to me. Are people looking at her or incidentally in her direction. In the one at the cafe, can we be sure the guy is turning around to look at her and isn't responding to some sound that caught his attention, or turning to call out to a friend? In the one at the stoplight, is the woman looking to the right to stare at her or to see if there's traffic coming? I find it hard to judge.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:03 am 
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I'll add to my comment that I was morbidly obese. I noticed a shift in behavior towards me once I got down to lower plus sizes. Still plus size, but there seemed a definite line between "acceptable fat" and "gross disgusting person fat" as far as public perception goes.

I'm still not over the resentment, which is really not good and something I need to deal with. I absolutely don't trust men at all and I know that's not fair. Everybody isn't a crasshole, but enough people are that it can sure seem like it.

I don't really think this project is quite fair, though it does spark some dialogue. I just take issue with the fact that it is, by design, assuming the worst of people, and though lots of people will live up (down?) to that, not all will. In my own experience, it's being treated as invisible that is worse than the open judgement.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:20 am 
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There's also probably a level of confusion? Like the picture of her in the swing and the guy and the kid are looking...there's not really a slick way to disguise a camera in that scenario and if I was with a kid at some swings and a grown person sat down on one and just stared down, I would probably look at them too. At least for a split second to wonder what they were doing. Because that's slightly out of the norm, no matter what your size is. And if you were unfolding some huge map, I'd probably look for a second because it's registering that you're not from around here. Maybe I'd be wondering if I should offer help. Or if I should try to steal your purse, whatever you're into.

I think it'd actually be a really thought-provoking experiment to have say...a thin woman stand out with a map similarly and then see who people are more likely to offer assistance to. Because I think you'd definitely see some telling differences there, but it's something a snapshot can't capture.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:21 am 
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i agree with a lot of what's been said here. i would also like to point out that some of these photos (using with her phone in the middle of a Times Square crosswalk; reading a map right outside the World Trade Center PATH station) were taken in very busy, high-traffic areas. i would probably be shooting a death glare if i were one of the passersby - it really annoys me when anybody stops and impedes the flow of people in a crowded place without at least trying to pull to the side or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:34 am 
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lavawitch wrote:
I'll add to my comment that I was morbidly obese. I noticed a shift in behavior towards me once I got down to lower plus sizes. Still plus size, but there seemed a definite line between "acceptable fat" and "gross disgusting person fat" as far as public perception goes.

I'm still not over the resentment, which is really not good and something I need to deal with. I absolutely don't trust men at all and I know that's not fair. Everybody isn't a crasshole, but enough people are that it can sure seem like it.

I don't really think this project is quite fair, though it does spark some dialogue. I just take issue with the fact that it is, by design, assuming the worst of people, and though lots of people will live up (down?) to that, not all will. In my own experience, it's being treated as invisible that is worse than the open judgement.


I'm sorry people treated you so poorly, that's so awful. And you're such a lovely person, it's too bad people wouldn't take the time to see that.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:58 am 
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I've been morbidly obese for most of my life with periods of being obese, I've never been 'normal' size and honestly, I kind of like the invisibility it offers me. I noticed when I got to my lowest weight, I was a lot less invisible and it was a horrible feeling.

I don't think I've been treated badly for the most part, sometimes like the time someone came up to me out of the blue and told me I was disgusting. I think those type of people are rare. I do think people will nitpick to make themselves feel better though. That is their problem and not mine.

And I do think we can interpret things one way or another. The other day, I saw a little person (prior to me realizing they were a little person) sitting alone and I thought that someone had left their child there. I think I looked a little more than I should have but I was thinking "hopefully this kid isn't alone!". Then someone came and talked to her and talked to her as an adult, so I figured it wasn't a child. But I imagine if they saw me looking, they might think that it was because of their size vs age. Plus we don't see a lot of midgets/dwarves in society. I can probably count how many times I've seen a dwarf and its not many. I'm not sure if this lady was either, but I would've guessed midget which would probably be the first time I've seen a midget in person. Anyway, I think someone could say I was looking maliciously at someone when I wasn't. I think the same thing can be said for someone who looks very 'touristy', wearing wrinkled clothes, wearing odd shoes, wearing different colors, and just someone who looks 'out of place.

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Last edited by linanil on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:01 am 
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linanil wrote:
like the time someone came up to me out of the blue and told me I was disgusting.


Jesus. People are unbelievable.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:12 am 
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Guys, we don't have any way of knowing that these people weren't just chubby chasers.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:05 pm 
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Mars wrote:
Naysayer Mars Time but honestly whenever I see anyone talking a photo of someone else I find it really hard not to look, and most of those faces seemed like just passerby's trying to get a look. I think it's pretty rude to be shaming these people who are just out and about their business. The idea of the project is great, and some photos do seem to show people being judgmental, but it bothers me that that it's being implied that all the looks are cruel.


The one on the swing looks more like "Daddy, why is there a lady on the swing?"

And while there are definitely some where she's being stared at with that sort of icky disapproval expression, some of them look more like mild annoyance at some woman standing in the middle of a crowded sidewalk fussing with her camera.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:16 pm 
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I have more to write about this but since I'm about to head out, I just wanted to say that I thought the swing one was weird, too. That one I personally found to be a bit over dramatic, and if I had been swinging a child on the swings and there was a fully grown adult looking sad and just sitting on a swing alone, I'd look at them. I wouldn't exactly make a face but I don't really feel like an adult sitting on a swing looking depressed is an every day occurrence.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:30 pm 
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I also get the impression that the looks in most didn't look overly judgey. A lot of them are more "what is she doing?"
As a fellow fat person, my experience has been pretty much the opposite. I go through the world mostly invisible. But of course that's just my experience. I don't doubt that others are stared at or mocked because of their size sometimes, but I don't think that all these people were judging her. There are a million reasons to look at someone besides judgement. I feel bad for some of these people who are labeled as fat shamers when they could have just been looking in her direction or wondering where she got that top.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:38 pm 
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And if you are an adult, without a child and go to a park with children, you will be stared at by other adults. period. regardless if you look sad.

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 Post subject: Re: Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Pub
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:44 pm 
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Sometimes I take my nephew and niece to the playground, and I get fat shamed so hard.

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