Why Aren't You Smiling? Women Respond To a Common Form of Street Harassment

Why aren't you smiling, baby? Smile! It has got to be the most annoying catcall in the slimy-book, and at this point, one of the least original. When street harassers demand that you smile on the street, it's annoying — even infuriating — on multiple levels. Let's go over a few of the reasons, shall we?

1. You are being harassed on the street. 

2. You are being told that your INNER EMOTIONAL STATE itself should be altered.

3. Because, presumably, even your inner emotional state is there for other people's amusement. 

4. Because no one likes an emotionally complex or grumpy woman. (READ: bitch)

5. Because your smile is mostly decorative anyway.

6. In fact, you are decorative.

7. And you're downright selfish to withhold that decoration.

8. Because, as we just went over, your smile — and you — exist for other people's amusement.

9. Not to mention, you're so much prettier when you smile.

10. The harasser's implication: I'm not even talking about your ass! Just your smile! It's downright wholesome.

11. No, but seriously, girl. Why aren't you smiling?

Because this is a rhetorical question most of us get on the regular, we decided to ask women to respond to the seemingly simple question: Why aren't you smiling? Because, hey, you asked.

Gabrielle, 32

Vaidehi, 24

arabella, 21

Akilah, 27

Lucia, 29

Sandra, 35

Lillie, 21

Corrine, 22

Gwen, 16

Barbara, 50

Amy, 26

Bailey, 24

Rachel, 26

Laksmi, 28

Steph, 19

Amanda, 21

Lindsey, 24


Shantel, 26

While these women's answers impressed me, they didn't exactly surprise me. But you know what did? The fact that so many of them chose to smile when I took their picture. 

For more, check out artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's awesome project Stop Telling Women to Smile, which tackles this question with some truly remarkable street art. 

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Images: Rachel Krantz, Courtney Laermer

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