26.04.13 by Jeff

Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero
“Weight Watchers”, a photo series by Haley Morris-Cafiero in which she captures the negative looks people often give her, behind her back.

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero


via: buzzfeed (I can’t believe I’m linking buzzfeed)

Jeff Hamada is the Founder and Editor of Booooooom. He lives and works in Vancouver.

  • Jan

    I saw this series on Feature Shoot a while back, and was blown away by how ridiculous and self centred the photographer is.

    People are not staring at her because she is fat. They are staring at her because she has a camera 5 feet away, pointing at her – wouldn’t you look over to see what the hell was going on?

    The last image is a perfect example. Theres a woman, in the sea, having her damn photo taken – perhaps on a tripod if it is a self portrait. The girl is just looking over out of curiosity.

    Also – If you are stood completely still on a busy NY sidewalk with a camera pointed at you, people are going to look at you.

    Terrible images by a terrible photographer.

  • Weight ..watchers. Great title

  • Claudio Silvano

    Anyone who poses to a camera in a tripod in the middle of the street will get those looks. I think these are aesthetically interesting but conceptually weak.

    • i can kinda see where you are coming from but an argument could be made that if it was a really attractive lady standing in front of a camera people wouldn’t be making the same faces.

      i think she’s brilliantly staging and re-creating real experiences here

      • Oso

        I think that if it was a “really attractive” girl, it would get MORE attention and, depending on the moment of the snap, pretty “ugly” faces, too.

        I agree that it is really subjective and it can be interpreted differently. My first opinion was that it was interesting…but then thinking about it and reading the comments I started thinking that the one giving the bad look at her is herself…trying to stablish that the people looking are looking because she is fat and not because they are curious, or intrigued or just were watching like I do, you do and she does, also…not pointing, but just looking.

        It is also true that there are some looks that seem to be “mean”…but I dont think is strong enough to make a point concept-wise.

        Anyways…interesting indeed. Got us all talking.

      • Jon Hulka

        I just listened to a her on a radio interview. My take on it is that she’s more interested in the fact that people are reacting and having conversations than in trying to project motivations onto their reactions.

  • Maximillian Cannon

    It’s interesting that as a viewer of these photos I’m inclined to be judgmental of the people making faces at her — who are in turn, allegedly judging her. She got all meta-judgmental on them, through the magic of ART!

  • colman

    im not buying this at all… weak concept…. who is to say anyone is judging her…? bizaro

  • jackson

    If you take random pics of crowds you will see some people squinting as they look at someone else. This lady is a real victim case. “Wah wah. Poor me.”

  • Rebecca

    I agree with past commenters, if you have a camera ready, people will react, either like the cops wanting to have fun or people who are curious as to why this woman is being photographed. Conceptually, it could stronger; however, visually it’s nice.

  • G

    Either way, there’s no excuse to being obese. Eat healthily and exercise just like the rest of us. What a weird chick with a victim mentality. People casting a glance at her isn’t’ really “judging”.

    • prideofmice

      This artist suffers hypothyroidism and eats healthily, it’s nothing to do with her over eating. There are lots of stereotypes attached to obesity.

      • jackson

        That is not true. Hypothyroidism does not cause obesity. Thyroid medicine like Levoxyl renders a person essentially completely healthy when taken daily. It appears she is just a lazy, fat, woman with a victim mentality who is trying to attack the world as “bad” or “wrong” with her art. She is quite offensive.

      • cal

        your offensive

    • Kate

      Actually no-one who is obese should have to excuse themselves to you. And who is “us”? And why should “we” feel superior because of the way we look and what that suggests about our lifestyles?

      • aeioou

        seriously! i can’t believe all the douchebaggery i’m reading here.

  • tunoestasbiendelacabeza

    personally, i think the photos are pretty cool.

    also, i can’t really understand why everyone suddenly gets really upset about this being “not real”. either you guys are going for “anyone could do this”, which is a pretty weak argument about art, or you’re just plain saying “fat shaming doesn’t exist”, which is rather problematic. jeez.

  • Ginger

    I think that the photographer is imagining more of these so-called sneers and looks. She does look sour and/or vacant in every picture; or is crossing thru the flow of the rest of the pedestrians, fumbling with things, holding a huge map, wearing a bad outfit and some of these people are merely observing the photographer. Would be nice to see her smile rather than looking so dour ….
    Yes, people stare at bigger-than -average people but I think these aren’t “all about her” in most of these examples.

  • its surprising to me how many people are actually angered by this project. a lot of the comments are being made under the assumption there is some sort of huge tripod or obvious setup (i’m not even sure where people are reading that it is a camera on a tripod with a self-timer? the self-timer especially makes no sense) but hypothetically if the photos are being shot by a friend, a person, it puts the “looks” from people into a different context. just my two cents.

  • The argument that the people in the photos are primarily reacting to a tripod is probably ridiculous, and a little beside the point. The images here are items in themselves, yet people are not seeing the photos for what they are. There is this need to jump to the artist and their process or intent to engage it. To me this is a rejection of the expected subject status quo, and it’s a deficiency of the viewer.

    Imagemaking is so much more fabricated than anyone can know at this point, most of it by incognito post-processing.
    The quality of the photos themselves I think are supposed to call attention to this. All of these are artistic decisions, down to the casting of the artist herself as the subject.

  • I don’t interpret these photographs as raw evidence of people openly smirking at Haley. I think a few of them look like they might just be caught in a bad pose. Photographs are an interpretation of the photographer’s view on the world, and she may feel like this is how the world sees her, even if that way isn’t necessarily true.

  • prideofmice

    Hey Jeff, here is a link to a full article about Weight Watchers… once reading it, I found it really insightful and gained a better understanding of this piece. Worth a read if you’re struggling to find a reason why this artist would make this work: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/23/pictures_of_people_who_mock_me/

  • Luke Briggs

    There may be some truth to what you say. But in most of the images, the direct gaze of passerby is directed not towards her setup, but towards her body. I think calling these images self-centered is missing the point (have you ever held your phone up and taken a picture of yourself??). She openly discusses her self-consciousness and struggle with weight in a related project on her website.

  • Luke Briggs

    I think most are not focusing in on where those ‘looks’ are being directed. It’s not to her setup or facial expressions, they are towards her body; the very subject matter of an un-altered image calling attention to a self-conscious struggle. Her candid acceptance of that struggle is well portrayed in these images as well as the bio on her website. I think her concept has been verified by the varied reactions to this post, and the self denial within such.


  • I like the style and to some extent the point she is trying to make but I disagree with her method. As she says herself on her website, we can say that pretty much all those photographs were staged, and so were the looks pictured created by her poses, and not especially her weight. If someone stopped in front of me in a crowded street like I read in other answers to this post, I would actually look at that person, fat or not. In all her photographs she either eats, ties up her shoes, takes pictures or plays with her phone, and in a lot of those pictures,
    people are not actually looking at her body, but what she is
    doing, like the picture of the woman with the little girl or the kid and his dad on the swing (and what kid would not look at a grown up sitting still on a swing ?). Other are obviously in a group and might just be laughing with their friends, but we can’t be sure since a photagraphs shows what the artist wants to and we can’t see the before/after shot.

    So to conclude, yes, I agree with her that there is discrimination in our society regarding weight (and a lot of other things) but I don’t consider authentic the reactions she potrays here and actually declares that all of those people were judgemental when they just might have been
    curious for most of them

  • Fawn

    I was so surprised to read the reactions to this! I initially looked at the photos and thought to myself that this was such a brilliant concept, particularly given the increase in overweight individuals in countries such as America. I am so impressed that an artist is opening a dialogue about a topic that while its very prevalent, is rarely shown in its harsh reality. Maybe they are not the most aesthetically pleasing images to look at but I think doing that would defeat their very purpose. And for what its worth, I think calling her “self-centred” seems harsh, given that most art seems to reflect the self in at least some way, and at least she has the bravery to do it in a way that is honest.

  • thanks for this link

  • I’m surprised by the negative feedback to this project. It is as though the reactions from the people in the photographs with Haley are not being considered drastic enough to be called a conscious judgement – when, in reality, it is the little things that people do that have an affect. Haley is the subject of criticism in every image, as there is at least one person who makes a conscious turn of their head to view her body, or gives some kind of snickering, judgmental facial expression. The streets are filled with people, way beyond the limitations of the photograph – moreover, there will be people taking pictures everywhere – so why are they looking at her? Her appearance suggests to these people that she isn’t living her life ‘properly’ and so they feel that they have a right – for a passing moment – to look down on her and feel better about themselves, rather than just facing forwards and getting on with their lives. These are quite powerful images.

  • cha

    I will give a silly/amused look at anyone who brings a tripod to take self-portraits on a busy place. Especially if she’s not exactly posing for the camera. I believe fat-shaming exists but these photos don’t really capture it successfully. It would’ve been better if the cameras were hidden or something…

  • Even these angry reactions makes this art great – it still gives you a reason to discuss.

  • Lindsey

    I think this entry tell us more about the artist (she thinks that she is the center of everything) than people (yes, people do look at others around them). Duh.

  • Steve

    I think that it’s a fair idea, but poorly executed. Photos like the top one with the police officer is obviously simply because there’s a camera pointed at her. Some of the expressions are indeed striking (such as the second photo), but I don’t think most are worthy of being considered. Most people look like they’re simply looking at her. Nearly everyone I know says I look angry when walking around no matter what mood I’m in, and I suspect had I been passing by and happened to glance at her at the time, I would have ended up on here too for giving her a “negative” look. Again, interesting concept, poor execution.

    • Michelle

      I don’t think the woman in the second photo is even looking at the “artist”. She is obviously looking past her. We can’t see what she is looking at, perhaps the next shop. There is one where the “artist” appears to be using a phone while blocking a crosswalk. Blocking a crosswalk is unacceptable behaviour. There is a picture of a woman with a child by the hand. It is probably this woman who is being shamed. To me, as a mother, I recognise that the woman is only “judging” the best path to take, trying to anticipate the movements of this “artist” in the very immediate future. The artist is behaving in an abnormal manner and bears closer scrutiny that people who are behaving in a normal and expected manner. For the safety of her child, for heavens sake.

      Finally, the “artist” should consider that perhaps looks she gets are far far far more likely to be her demeanour, the way she chooses to dress in an unflattering manner and her personal grooming, or lack thereof.

  • lasse

    all the people here judging her, maybe the joke is on you.

    • aeioou

      I definitely agree. By all these commenters’ logic, “Mimic” by Jeff Wall is also a horrendous photograph and “conceptually weak.” After looking through all of the images on her web site I agree that some of the people looking at the artist could definitely be looking for another reason, but that’s beside the point! I’ve been out in society and I know that people stare, and that people stare impolitely.

      I don’t know what’s with many of the commenters here, but I think they need to maybe reconsider some things.

  • me

    Interesting to me is just the use of the word “artist” in the context of a few hypocrite snapshots on the street.

  • Nick

    It think people are missing the point — who cares if these images are even staged, she’s recreating life experiences. Its common knowledge that people glance or even stare at overweight people. The photographer has obviously experienced this in her life otherwise she wouldn’t have created the work.

  • CH

    shes toddling around with a camera guy and a bag full of puddings not surprised people are taking a look

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