Overweight woman compiles strangers’ sneers for photo series

Michael Walsh
Haley Morris-Cafiero has turned to Kickstarter to raise money for her upcoming book, The Watchers. (Kickstarter.com)

An overweight Tennessee woman is compiling a photo series that shows the looks of disgust she receives on a regular basis.

Haley Morris-Cafiero, of Memphis, says she has struggled with undiagnosed eating disorders and hypothyroidism, a condition that can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity.

In the bio on her Kickstarter page, she wrote that though she has always struggled with her weight, she has “learned to love and accept my body.” But it appears not everyone else has accepted her yet.

So she is raising money to publish three versions of her book series "The Watchers," to share what it's like to feel judged for her appearance daily.

Back in 2010, Morris-Cafiero set up a camera in the heart of Times Square to take a self-portrait. After developing the film, she saw that a man posing for a picture behind her had been sneering at her.

“I never thought that I would capture a glance that can last a microsecond,” she wrote.

Since that moment, she has been actively trying to capture the disapproving looks of strangers as she goes about her daily business, in the "Wait Watchers" series.

Later, she flips through the images to see if anyone has been casting judgmental glances her way.

“I present the images to the world to start a conversation,” she said. “While I do not know what the passerby is thinking, I attempt to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger.”

Shortly after, in February 2013, her photo series was picked up by the Lenscratch fine art blog – and quickly went viral.

Morris-Cafiero’s inbox was inundated with emails, many of which insisted that her life – or even the entire world – would be better off if she lost weight and got a makeover.

These often harshly worded emails inspired the next phase of her photo series: to capture similarly critical looks while she exercised and got a makeover.

Needless to say, she succeeded yet again.