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Passing glances

As a fat woman, I’ve had my share of funny looks from strangers. I won’t ever say they don’t happen but they don’t happen often unless I’m blissfully unaware because, frankly, I don’t give a shit about what others think of me and my body.

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero, in her series Wait Watchers, set out to prove that fat people are often the subject of ridicule. I won’t argue that but am not sure her photos prove it adequately. She set up cameras in public places and posed as if doing things like waiting to cross the street, consulting a map or seeing whether a dress might fit.

Some recent articles about her project describe the reactions as “disturbing” or “disgusting”. I disagree. Working in New York City, there’s hardly a day (or hour) when I don’t come across people posing for pictures and guess what? I will check them out or at least give them a passing glance.

In Haley’s photos, people are caught checking her out. Here, a police officer photobombed the shot by holding his hat over her head while she posed with a cellphone.

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I will admit this woman looked at Haley like she didn’t think the dress would be a good fit. However, would she also look like that at a thinner woman holding up a similarly smaller dress? I’m not psychic so I don’t know.

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Mostly people looked while she posed with what I suppose can be described as a thoughtful expression (although I found it more morose than pensive) or wearing clothes that were inappropriate for the weather like a tank top on a clearly chilly day.

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I believe those looks were more about curiosity and, for the most part, had little to do with her size. If I saw someone sulking on a swing or at a tray of food or bent over on a busy sidewalk, I’d glance at them too regardless of how much they weighed. Also, we don’t know how many shots were taken until someone was caught looking at her or in her general direction.

Again, I cannot stress enough the point that fat people are made fun of and it needs to stop. Everyone, regardless of size, deserves to be treated with respect. I just don’t think this project proves that point. What’s your opinion?

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