The Bully Pulpit by Haley Morris-Cafiero

It’s not always easy to talk about sensitive subjects. Subjects like any kind of harassment, or any kind of bullying and in general anything that can cause a trauma on our psychosynthesis. I am not a specialist on this subject and I can only express my humble opinion. But for me, the reason that it makes it hard to talk about my traumatic experiences is the pain I feel deep inside my heart which then becomes anger. It’s not only the pain or the anger in my heart, it is also all the dark thoughts, and the negative feelings. I am not sure if people who haven’t experienced something traumatic can understand that feeling. A feeling like you are falling in a pitch black well without a bottom.

Depersonalization was (and probably still is) my way to be able to express what happened. A note here, I have never visited or talked to any therapist or doctor about my traumatic experiences. I’m only using the word “depersonalization” to express the feeling of my detachment of the events that occurred. Or I just might be in a denial for the last 10+ years, who knows…

Anyway, depersonalization was (or is) my way of facing (or not facing) what happened but this isn’t the only way. Art is another more creative and probably liberating way of overcoming or facing traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, when I was 16 and 18-19 (when the bullying occurred, physical and cyber) I wasn’t thinking about art. I don’t think I could even think at all.

The Bully Pulpit, Haley Morris-Cafiero

But Haley Morris-Cafiero (Artist, Photographer, Performer) used her art to challenge and provoke all those high nosed people who attempted to mock and bully her. After her project “Wait Watchers“,  Haley Morris-Cafiero received a lot of negative and mean comments about her. And she responded by creating something brilliant. Of course her project the “Wait Watchers” was genius. She captured the expressions people had towards her, while she was taking “selfies”.  But her newest project the “Bully Pulpit” is something more than genius. Is a slap to people’s (society’s) fake – pretentious face.


Left “Sea world called, They want you back Shamu”, Right “What’s wrong with body shaming?”


Morris – Cafiero was lucky enough to track down the people who attempted to bully her. We live in a strange era, everybody uploads selfies, and personal information on social media platforms. In my case, 10+ ago (before facebook, or twitter or IG), people were very cautious, they never used real names or surnames on the internet. I was one of the not so cautious people,  to upload (privately or that is what I thought I was doing)  photos from a gathering which gave food for bullying. Anyway, it’s a long story and I am glad to avoid talking about it.


Left “I just don’t get why do women allow themselves to get fat, you know you’ll be treated like shit”, Right “So instead of losing some weight so people aren’t appealed by her unhealthy land-whale ass, she tries to change millions of years of male evolution… Normal people are never going to want to fuck you, regardless of how much you complain”


My point is, she was lucky enough to track them down and find their photos. Haley Morris-Cafiero then recreated their images! She dressed up and pretended to be them. On top of that, she added text on the photos. Transcripts of the mean – bullying comments. That is more than genius, that is an extremely unthinkable brilliant work!


Left “Quit looking like a slob. No one cares that you’re a fat slob. Just that fact that you’re a slob”, Right “I bet you stink! Your legs look like a play dough stuffed into pantyhose.”


While I was at the Belfast Exposed Gallery, looking at the photographs, I realised something. I realised that the text was something that captured my attention even more. The settings in the photographs, the dressing up, is really strong and emotional. But the text gives such depth and makes this parody real.


Left “Wow if you are fat you deserve to be ridiculed. How about some plane basic manner”, Right ” If she were auditioning for the role of depressed, trailer park resident in a dying town she’d land the role instantly”


And it’s not even a parody, it’s the reality we all live in… That’s the world today. And is so sad, that people can’t accept other people. That their ego is so big that they can’t see anything else. They think that they are the best (even if they are not). It seems like they follow the saying “fake it till you make it”. But that’s nonsense. Cause if someone is shit, they will remain a shit, even if they are acting like flowers. They will attract flies and not bees.

I can’t even describe how angry it makes me read all these mean comments. I can’t and I don’t want to understand the people who say things like that. There is no excuse for bullies. Their behaviour shouldn’t be acceptable, even as “a joke”.


More Photos

Anyway, here are some more photos, and the last one is my most favourite…

Left “Every time I am at grocery store and I see extremely overweight person pushing shopping cart loaded with junk sugary processed goods, I confirm it’s plain ignorance or stupidity”, Right “You look like you got off the ShortBus a few stops too soon.”


Left “Why not just go to the gym and eat a little better?”, Right “The problem is letting these fat retards out on the street”


“You’re fat and gross, your arms make me want to puke”


Left “You never heard of whale watching, lady?”, Right “Yes people think you are disgusting”


“Why don’t you just say no to food and try a little exercise?”


“You are a fat lazy liar”, box tape “Fragile”


The photo above is my favourite. I was looking at Halley’s photograph when the box with the red word “Fragile” drawn my attention. It made sense. That’s our true nature. We are fragile. Fat or thin it doesn’t matter. We have fragile bodies and soul. And we need to take care of those and of each other. Not to bully each other, but to show compassion.

Also, Haley Morris-Cafiero is truly brave to go out there and face through her art all these ugly (in their soul) people. It is not something easy to do and not everyone is able of doing it.


Last note:

Obese (or just overweight) people (at least those I know) don’t want to be obese. They struggle with health problems, and they try to lose weight. Their whole life is called “DIET”. But things aren’t always easy. People might gain weight as a result of a medication or a health problem or other reasons. Also, don’t get me wrong, but “eating healthy” isn’t common knowledge. Not everyone knows what they should be eating regularly, or moderately, or rarely.

And honestly a pack of spaghetti is so much cheaper than fruits and veggies and that is a fact. Therefore, many people that struggle financially aren’t able to buy fruits and veggies to feed their family as much as they would like. Whereas, they can feed a family with a pack of spaghetti and some ketchup. And who is responsible for the prices in the supermarkets? -Capitalism and governments.. And that is why, thin – “rich people” don’t like” fat” people. Cause they believe “fat” people are poor and lazy.  But that makes those “rich people” superficial and scums.

So I would say that “fat” people are as lazy and dirty and unhealthy as the thin ones. We shouldn’t judge someone by the way they look. Anyhow, just because people act the way they act, doesn’t mean that that’s it and we can’t do anything about it. We can do many things, and the first is respect, acceptance and if you don’t have anything nice to say, then STFU. It’s as simple as that. Maybe, then we can live happily and all together.


Anyway, the above text is just my opinion based on my personal experience and nothing else. I truly believe that Haley’s exhibition is a brilliant one and everyone should go and visit it at the Belfast Exposed Gallery. It will run until the 18 of May 2019, so you still have time.





For more information regarding Haley Morris-Cafiero ‘s exhibition visit the Belfast Exposed Website here

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