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13 February 2013

Wait Watchers "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."[More:]I really like the concept of this project. Interestingly, though, I found that many of the images were somewhat ambiguous - the people could be looking at her and judging her size, but they could also be serious-face people (I am one) or laughing about something else. But even that ambiguity called to mind the way we have to negotiate our own anxieties about our appearance and others' reactions, and we have to find some way of dealing with the perhaps hundreds of reactions we will each encounter in a day - ignore everyone, observe everyone, suspect everyone, assume the best of everyone, etc. It prompts some interesting thinking.
It seemed to me that in many of her photos, people were looking elsewhere, just past her, or perhaps looking to see what she was doing. (IE: when she looked like she was picking something up, or aiming her camera). And I wonder if she was calling attention to her differences with her pigeon toed poses and blank expressions. That would certainly cause more second looks than someone who may be bigger, but acting normally.

That being said, I do notice people and their interactions with me/my reactions to them. Working in retail, we are required to greet everyone who comes near us - and I have little tolerance for anyone who pretends they didn't hear me. Their lack of interaction does cause irritation for me. I wonder if someone was photographing my reactions what would be said of me.

People watching is a fascinating hobby.
posted by redvixen 13 February | 21:11
This mainly felt like paranoia. She's big, but she's not that big. IMHO - People aren't going to give her a second glance.

It made me deeply uncomfortable that she thinks she's being permanantly judged, and looking through her photographs made me feel that I was enabling her paranoia.

There's something to be said about how we negotiate our anxieties for sure - but this just felt too harmful.
posted by seanyboy 14 February | 07:31
This happens to be my exact shade of paranoia/social anxiety and I couldn't look at these pictures for more than a minute or two because it completely set me off for the rest of the day.
posted by sperose 14 February | 08:07
I think she gets some dirty looks just by standing in the way. A photo gallery of looks I've given to people who decide to stand in the middle of sidewalks, or at the top of escalators, or just outside doorways, or right in front of the elevator doors when they should know it's going to come down full of people... It would be all glares of death.

Though I know the paranoia well, if paranoia is what we're calling the feeling of persecution that one gets from being persecuted.
posted by fleacircus 14 February | 10:18
One shot looks like mean behavior for sure -- the cop holding a hat over her head. I think the others are largely about people seeing the camera or her frozen position.

I am very sorry and saddened she feels this way.
posted by bearwife 14 February | 18:39
Hey guys! || Now this is my idea of a love song