ESSENCE Poll: Does It Bother You When Men on Street Tell You to Smile?

Hey sexy! Baby girl! Smile girl, it can’t be that bad. We’ve all heard these from men on th street.

Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh responded to the constant catcalling she experienced by creating a street art project aimed at making men aware that unsolicited compliments on the street are, more often than not, unwelcome. Fazlalizadeh started plastering posters with taglines like “Stop Telling Women to Smile” or “Women Do Not Owe You Their Time or Conversation” around her Brooklyn neighborhood.

The Philadelphia transplant says her motive was not to insult, but to spark conversation around the issue. “The project is saying that street harassment is not okay,” she writes on her blog. “This project is not asking for there to be zero interaction between men and women in public spaces – it’s asking for the interaction to be respectful and safe.”

Fazlalizadeh’s project has sparked lots of discussions around interactions between Black men and women, gender and race. “A woman’s smile is beautiful,” wrote someone on one of her posters. “Relax,” wrote another. There are even sweatshirts on the matter.

So tell us: Is it harassment when a man asks you to smile? Should you just ignore it, or does it leave you feeling devalued? We’d love to know your experiences. Share your thoughts and comments with us below. [poll id=303446]

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