If you’re a woman in New York, chances are you’re cat-called on the regular. And contrary to the harasser’s belief, it’s never flattering. Brooklyn based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is looking to shift the narrative around street harassment with her project Stop Telling Women to Smile.
“I started it because I wanted to talk about my experience with street harassment. It was my way of speaking back to my harassers, who say things to me on the street that are unwelcome. That are unwanted,” she said in a video interview about the project’s mission.
Starting in 2012, Fazlalizadeh began talking with women about their experiences with street harassment and drawing their portraits. Each drawing spotlights a quote that reflects the subject’s story, like “My masculinity is not a threat to yours“or “No me llamo mamacita.”
Fazlalizadeh intentionally pastes the posters in areas where the women live, or where they feel close to street harassment. Through this public art series, Fazlalizadeh hopes to shift the power dynamic, giving women a space to talk back to street harassers on their own terms.
She’s currently taking her project overseas in Paris. To see more of Fazlalizadeh’s dynamic portraits, check out Stop Telling Women to Smile.