It doesn't matter what your size is, as long as you're healthy and happy. This is the message that body positive activists and movements tries to teach us. We have supposedly come a long way as a society to embrace people no matter what they look like, but this alarming photo series reveals the appalling way many people still behave.
In a new book by photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero, the public reactions of strangers towards an obese woman are put on display. These images reveal the truth behind the stigmas and negative associations that still lie within people's minds.
Haley hides a camera and captures the faces of those she passes by out in public. As an overweight person, the criticisms and disgusted reactions from random people are a part of her daily existence. As people judge, gawk, laugh and taunt this woman at the beach, in a dress shop or on the street, every expression is caught on camera.
"I do think that society communicates with the gaze and we determine how we feel about ourselves based on how someone else looks at us." the 40-year-old Associate Professor at Memphis Art College explains. "According to my research, the most vain city in the US is Los Angeles, so I decided to go there."
"I went to Venice Beach and noticed that people were working out so I bought work out wear. I decided to do what other people were doing - stretching and lunges. The image just worked out perfectly."
The images are shocking, and eye-opening. Even though their faces portray disgust, these strangers would never go as far as saying negative, demeaning comments to her face. However, Haley has received emails with scathing words, such as one hater calling her a 'fat lump of lard'.
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Despite the crass negativity, Haley has also found a lot support through her work. Many have praised her for shedding light on the this issue and empowering others who struggle with body image.
The images are not meant to criminalize those who look upon an overweight woman with disgust, but to start a conversation about the way we treat each other. Weight is not a negative connotation. Weight is not a reason to mock, bully and shame. If we want to feel good about ourselves and we want others to feel good about their bodies, we need to reset our way of thinking!
If Haley's 'selfies' are a reflection of her reality and our society, isn't it time to change? Lifting someone up and making their confidence soar can be as easy as paying them a compliment or standing up for them if you see others trying to put them down. As we enter a new year, think about what you can do each day to stop body negativity to help change our world's way of thinking.
What are your thoughts on body image? Share your reaction to these images in the comments below!
Source: Daily Mail