November 10, 2014

Be Great

Original Photography - Jennifer Lefebvre

This weekend as I was perusing some articles on Facebook, I came across an interesting story about Haley Morris-Cafiero.  Haley is a photographer and she noticed one day that as she was taking a self-photo in New York City, a stranger in the background seemed to be looking at her oddly.  She examined the photo a little bit more and then decided to conduct a social experiment in which she, an overweight person, photographed herself to see if she could capture stranger’s reactions to her as she was performing normal activities like exercising or shopping for food, etc.  What she found was surprising.  Haley captured photos upon photos of people staring at her; seemingly because she is an overweight person.

Upon looking at the photos, I have to admit that sometimes she was performing activities in odd places where I would imagine anyone would stare no matter what your size.  For instance, in one picture she seems to be working out in the middle of a very busy sidewalk and passersby try to maneuver around her.  Nevertheless, in many photos, she does not seem to be doing anything out of the ordinary, yet the reactions of others that she captured are disturbing.  Here is a link to the story.

We cannot in any way imagine what the people are actually thinking; one can only assume.  However, as an overweight and previously obese person, I know the looks all too well.  While we indeed take up more physical space in the world, we would rather remain invisible…instead of looking at us in jest, please just don’t look at us.  I have written about this previously.  And while people rarely looked me in the eye, I guess I didn’t like to think about the fact that they did, in fact, very much notice me.  If I could have seen the looks people gave me when I was not looking, I would have been heartbroken. 

I think that Haley is brave.

She writes:

 “I have always had a hard time controlling my weight. My uncontrollable exterior has determined my place in society and I have often felt left out and awkward. For this series, I photograph myself in socially engaged spaces to examine how my body fits into society. I choose compositions within social sites: restaurants, stores, pools and other places of leisure. I attempt to juxtapose my place in the scene with issues that contribute to my weight gain.”

Haley is creating a composition of not only the photos, but of the comments that people leave for her on social media sites.  I know this already, but the world is cruel.  Some of the hateful comments that she has received are truly eye-opening.  Many of us would not put ourselves out there like this; she should be applauded.

If you are interested in more about Haley Morris-Cafiero and her project, The Wait Watchers, please visit her website.

I want to leave you with this thought today:  forget anyone of no importance to you.  Do not waste time or energy on people who do not matter.  Surround yourself with people who love you for you.  Remove the people from your life who do not make you feel beautiful every single day.  And for goodness sake, we should take lessons from brave, BE GREAT, make others feel great, and dance to the beat of our own drums.

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