Pictures of people who mock me for being fat: one woman turns the camera on the sneering
HALEY Morris-Cafiero is a photographer based in Memphis. She noticed others mocking her for her size:
While creating an image for my Something to Weigh series, I decided to photograph myself sitting alone on the Times Square stairs to capture my solitude in a busy crowd. After developing the film, I noticed that a man was standing behind me being photographed by an attractive blonde woman. Rather than pose for her camera, he was sneering at me behind my back. Five minutes later and at another location, another man turns his back to gawk at me while I am photographing myself sitting at a café table.
I have always been aware of people making faces, commenting and laughing at me about my size. I now reverse the gaze and record their reactions to me while I perform mundane tasks in public spaces. I seek out spaces that are visually interesting and geographically diverse. I try to place myself in compositions that contain feminine icons or advertisements.
In my peripheral vision, I saw a teen girl waiting for the signal to cross the street. As I stood there, eating my ice cream, I heard a repetitive “SLAP, SLAP, SLAP” of a hand on skin. I signaled to my assistant to shoot. It was only when I returned home to Memphis and got the film developed that I realized the sound was the girl hitting her belly as she watched me eat. She did this over and over. I have five frames of her with various facial expressions. I called the resulting image “Gelato.”
I got an email from a 15-year-old girl in Belgium who said my images made her “feel better and not care about what others think and live my life.” That made me proud. As for what the images mean, viewers may interpret the images as they see fit. I’m just trying to start a conversation.
This dislike and mocking of the fat comes from the top down. We’re told about good food and bad food. We’re told that the fat cost more to treat in hospitals. We’re told that the fat are victims. Fat was once jolly. Now fat is miserable and afflicted. We are led to believe that seeing a fat child is suggestive of parental abuse. Schools, celebrity chefs and TV shows are obsessed with diet. The result is to make us all worried about weight lest we become bad citizens and dependent on slim, responsible others to do our bidding. The really debilitating thing about the fight against fat is what the censorious, illiberal talk about it is doing to our heads.