Change starts at home and in your community. Today, people are working to make a difference all around us. Find out how one woman is making a difference on the streets of New York to combat sexual harassment. 

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

by Leilani Wetherell from California

" I'll definitely pay attention to someone who is critiquing the artwork. But as far as someone not thinking street harassment is a big deal or that I'm being uptight? I don't think that's a valid critique." -T.F.

 " I feel like this is a feminist issue and is going to be a part of a feminist conversation, and I wanted images of women of color in that conevrsation- feminism historically left us out." -T.F.


Standing up for Safety with Street Art


     Heroes come in all forms. It might be your mom or dad, healthcare professionals, siblings, even your dog. To me, a hero is defined as someone who does good for a society without benefit in return, someone who makes a change in a positive manner, conquering harsh situations using strength and bravery. Our world is one that is learning to appreciate differences slowly, but surely. We are changing the way we view things, such as art. Art tells a visual story, whether it be make believe or a reflection of our current world. Graffiti and street art does the same, and while it can be pointless tagging, many street artists are working to address social and political issues present in our world. In particular, one woman is working to show women’s power and fighting to stand up to street harassment. Her name is Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and she is my hero. 

     Tatyana is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work not only appears on the streets, but in art galleries as well. Through her work she addresses the issues of sexual harassment women suffer on the streets. Her most famous art, “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” spans the walls and streets of New York with different portraits of diverse women pictured amongst quotes such as, “My outfit is not an invitation,” and “Women are not outside for your entertainment.” Her work acts as a nationwide influence, and Tatyana has quickly gained the titles of artist, activist, and author. Her work has been featured on Netflix, short documentaries, exhibitions, and artist talks, adding to her already impressive repertoire. 

     It is with her great achievements and determination that I consider Tatyana to be my hero. From all the way across the country, her artwork and successes have impacted me greatly. Not only has she made me more aware to the much larger issue of sexual harassment that we as women have experienced, but she taught me that we should stand up and use our voice as well. She shows that we won’t just sit back and wish for these things to be different and we sure will not blame it on the idea that “boys will be boys.”  My passion lies in art, and to see her spreading a message and speaking visually through street art really appealed to me. Her work is a silent protest for taking back our power and appreciating what it means to be a woman. Tatyana fights for equality, and shows the beauty in diversity with her art. She showcases multiple different women in her art, whom she got to interview about their experiences. They are all unique and beautiful in their own ways. Her work shows that sexual harassment can occur towards all women, no matter the color of your skin, your body shape, or your hair. Not only does she fight to prevent harassment, but she shows the importance of inclusivity, and not just dismissing others' cases because they don’t look like the “typical women” to get harassed. Tatyana has taught me the importance of speaking out for what I believe in and standing up for what is right, not just being a bystander. Her additional art, which works to combat not only sexism, but racism, shows the desire of change in our society. Her impactful fight for human rights and acceptance has gone on to teach me that you can fight to create change in all aspects of life, even art! She shows that change can be made universally, but it starts with acting locally, while thinking globally. 




Page created on 2/16/2021 7:47:59 AM

Last edited 2/18/2021 8:45:18 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh - Tatyana's own website showcasing her gallery/exhibition work, public street work, her own books, and house installments.

Author Info

Hi! My name is Leilani Wetherell. I am 18 years old and a dual-enrolled senior in high school. My passion lies within the arts, moreso film, painting, and writing. My dream is to go on to write and direct films, maybe even star in them. When I'm not writing screenplays, I am always looking for a way to get involved in my community. As a member of the Rotary Vietnam Project and Shooting Stars Club, a former cheerleader, and a volunteer at my local senior citizen residence home, I am always looking for ways to make a change. I have started my own project called Clothing for a Cause, which sells gently-used clothing, in exchange for proceeds that go to a charity of the buyer's choice. We have donated to Planned Parenthood, the Human Society, the Red Cross, Black Lives Matter Foundation, and many more. Those who are working to also conduct change and address social issues inspire me on a daily basis, and help me to learn of more ways to get involved. I want to spread the word on how to make change, and aim to do so by showcasing some of the fantastic people I look up to, one of whom is my hero, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.