Tatyana Fazlalizadeh Warns: “Stop Telling Women To Smile”

by Alexa Combs Dieffenbach - Published on 04/06/2015

It’s a daily reality for most women, especially those living in big cities where the feeling of anonymity en masse is prevalent – the catcalling, the “hey baby, why are you so mad? smile!” or in Italy the “ehi bella! non mi parli, ma vaff..” (“hey beautiful! not gonna talk to me, f** you ”).

It’s constant, it’s invasive and belittling, and it has no place in a world we like to think is “modern” and “equal.”

Controversial Campaign like 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman or the Rome version, demonstrate the verbal, and sometimes physical street harassment that women can go through just walking down the street.

Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, one of the three street artists that made Forbes’ 2015 “30 Under 30″list, has recognized this through her on-going street art campaign addressing gender-based street harassment Stop Telling Women To Smile, that involves wheat-pasting drawn portraits of women she interviews about the harassment they have experienced in the very places it happened.

The portraits are created in pencil from photographs Fazlalizadeh takes of the subjects, with quotes or statements accompanying them “that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces.”
griot-magazine-stop-telling-women-to-smile-Tatyana Fazlalizadeh2griot-magazine-stop-telling-women-to-smile-Tatyana FazlalizadehStarted in Brooklyn in the Fall of 2012, Stop Telling Women To Smile, which was born from Fazlalizadeh’s idea that “street art can be an impactful tool for tackling street harassment,” has become a global travelling series with the goal of reaching many cities, and telling women’s’ stories worldwide.

Recently exhibited in September 2014 in Mexico City, partnering with Fusion Digital, Stop Telling Women To Smile is on the move.

griot-magazine-Tatyana Fazlalizadeh_stop telling people to smile mexico_7griot-magazine-Tatyana Fazlalizadeh_stop telling people to smile mexico_10griot-magazine-Tatyana Fazlalizadeh_stop telling people to smile mexico2

Anyone can propose their city as the next location for the project through Fazlalizadeh’s website.

As part of International Anti-Street Harassment Week, Stop Telling Women to Smile held an international wheat pasting night on April 17th, 2015. Individuals and organizations around the world went out and wheat pasted Stop Telling Women To Smile posters in their own communities.

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Alexa Combs Dieffenbach
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Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, I am an art historian and art manager. After battling to save the Tevere River, I am currently developing culture and arts related academic programs in Rome. Dante Alighieri is my fellow alumni, enough said.