Masks are off — which means men will start telling women to ‘Smile!’ again

Requests for smiles may seem harmless to some, but they’re often considered to be in line with catcalling, unwelcome gestures and other kinds of harassment, says Kimberly Fairchild, an associate professor of psychology at Manhattan College who researches street harassment. In the worst cases, commands to smile can escalate into scarier situations. But even when a command to smile is just that, Fairchild says there can be a “cumulative effect” if it happens often, as it can in urban areas. “Those things can accumulate in terms of more self-objectification. They can accumulate in terms of making women feel uncomfortable and unsafe being out in public places.”

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