Have you ever been walking down the street, lost in thought, when all of a sudden someone shouts out to you, “Smile”? We’re not talking about your mother or a photographer, but rather a total stranger, a man just walking by. He thinks it’s charming, or a nice thing to say, but on the contrary this type of heckling can be disarming and is even considered by many as “gender based street harassment”. It is this type of experience that inspired artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to create the Stop Telling Women to Smile project.
Street harassment is an issue that affects women worldwide and includes catcalls, sexist remarks, groping, leering, stalking and assault. In an informal study conducted by the organization Stop Street Harassment, almost 99% of women surveyed have been harassed a few times, and over 65% said they were harassed on at least a monthly basis.
Stop Telling Women to Smile is designed to bring women’s voices and faces to the street, to provoke a conversation and bring awareness to the prevalence of the problem.
“The project is saying that street harassment is not okay. That feeling entitled to treat and speak to women any type of way, is not okay. That requesting for a woman to “smile for you” is not okay – because women are not outside on the street for the purpose of entertaining and pleasing men. Women just want to move throughout the world comfortable and safely, while wearing their face however the hell they want to,” explains Tatyana.
We couldn’t agree more!
I’m a portrait painter. I want to communicate social and political ideas to the viewer of my work through the eyes of the other human being shown in my painting.