Stop Telling Women To Smile

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“Now you know you are too pretty to not be smiling gorgeous!”

Walking quickly down the street, my thoughts interrupted, I glance towards the male voice.  I see a middle-aged man staring hard, smiling brightly, pleased that I acknowledged him.  I shoot him a terse smile as I continue walking past.

I find myself absorbed in my thoughts again.  “I’ve gotta hurry and make this train.  It’s running once every 10 minutes and I can’t afford to be late because…”

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“What’s wrong Honey? Why aren’t you smiling?”

Approaching the crosswalk, I see an older gentleman peering out of his driver’s side window.  He’s probably been watching me for a few moments now, waiting to say something witty.  I resist rolling my eyes and instead opt for a smirk accompanied by a slight hand wave.

Approaching the crosswalk I spot the train station a few paces ahead.  My brow furrows as I listen intently-is that the sound of an approaching train?  Am I going to make it?  “Oh God, please let this train be held up because right now…”

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“Hey ma!  Smile for me!  Your life can’t be THAT bad that you can’t smile.”

Rolling my eyes, I wonder, “Why won’t they leave me alone?”  This time I don’t bother turning around.  Instead I run across the street, down the stairs, swipe my metro card and just barely make my train.

Too many women experience this street harassment every single day.  While yes, a sincere compliment can brighten someone’s day, too many men take advantage of the opportunity and take things too far.  They completely turn her off.  It’s gender-based, demeaning and frustrating.

Smile 1Fortunately, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh feels similarly.   This Brooklyn-based artist has created “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” a project where she creates oil paintings of women, posts them in public spaces, and encourages them to fight back.

While the paintings are currently displayed in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, she has created a Kickstarter campaign to bring her project to other cities including (but not limited to) Atlanta, Kansas City, San Francisco and Baltimore.

I think this is AMAZING!  I believe more men should be held accountable for being obnoxious.  One way to do that is through awareness, which is exactly what Fazlalizadeh’s campaign is doing.  What do you think?  Ladies, are men’s “polite” cat calls getting out of hand? Men, do you think women are taking it too seriously?  Share your thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “Stop Telling Women To Smile

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