At some point, we've all been looked at by strangers. And, we've all done that mental scramble, trying to figure out why they're looking. The photo series Wait Watchers, from Haley Morris-Cafiero, perfectly captures what it's like to be the object of stares — and still find a way not to care.
The series' first inspiration came in 2010 when Morris-Cafiero was taking a photo of herself in Times Square. She noticed that someone was glaring at her in the background. "Even though he was getting his picture taken, and we were in the information-overload capital of the world," she says, "he seemed to have kind of a sneer on his face." Haley then took more photos (which were published over a year ago), showing her going about her day while passersby shoot her a glance. It's nothing too overt; there are no pointing fingers — just a gaze that we're left to fill with our own meaning.
Since then, Morris-Cafiero has collected the online comments she received about her photo series. Many were directed at her appearance rather than the photos themselves; people told Haley she needed to lose weight and wear "normal" clothes. Now, Morris-Cafiero's latest additions to the series are her responses to those commenters: She's doing exactly what they told her to do — exercising and getting new clothes — but with the same confidence she always had. And, she gets the same stares regardless. (Still, who wouldn't grab a glimpse of that excellent Blondie shirt?)
So, we get to witness both Haley's pushing herself out of her comfort zone and the immediate reaction to it. With that, her message is one of confidence and self-assurance, no matter what's in the eyes of those around her. "Outside of whatever’s happening in the photograph, people need to love themselves," she says, "and ignore what anybody's saying."