Hi! I’m Vicky, an aspiring journalist and student here at UI. Ever since I was a young teen, I’ve felt a special calling to help women and children. One of the biggest vices in society today is the devaluation of women and the gifts they uniquely bring to the world. With these gifts come unique struggles, especially regarding women’s health and pregnancy. I believe it is helpful to have a community of women helping women. By listening to all women’s voices, the values that come from our different cultures, the common goals we share, and even the differences we have, we are able to support and build each other up. This is why I decided to write for the Women’s Center, not only to share my opinion, but to share the voices of all women at UI.
Here’s a bit of my personal history and like all Latinos, it starts with family. My parents were both immigrants to this country. My mom came to L.A. from Mexico when she was two. My dad arrived in New York City from the Dominican Republic at the age of fourteen. They both joined the Navy, were stationed in Virginia, met at a salsa club, and had my brother and I. They are some of the strongest people I know, especially my mom. They fought to make their dreams a reality and in turn helped build a future for their children. They are my everything and they continue to teach me how to love with truth and compassion.
Being a Navy brat, I was given the opportunity to travel across the country and abroad. My favorite childhood moments are from when I lived in Japan–walking through the city, visiting temples, and meeting people from everywhere! I’m most happy when I am travelling and learning new cultures and I could not imagine living in one place for more than five years. Even though it’s sad leaving a place where I’ve spent time with a great community, I have been able to meet so many people from all walks of life.
Before we can talk about the resources of Planned Parenthood, I think it is important to understand the history of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood started at a time when sex education and birth control was not permitted in the USA. A woman by the name of Margaret Sanger would soon change all that. She was raised in Corning, New York in 1916. After seeing her mother suffer from seven miscarriages, Margaret Sanger decided to study birth control. She later traveled to Europe where she would learn about not only birth control but sex education. As a huge advocate for Women’s rights, she would soon see restrictions from opponents.
Her first birth control clinic was shut down by police. (However, the clinic was still able to offer information about birth control.) Margaret Sanger spent 30 days in jail for refusing to pay the fine. This experience led her to travel the country and talk about birth control. Eventually, two organizations named Birth Control Clinical Bureau and American Birth Control League, joined to become Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A 1936 court ruling established that birth control and the information given about it would not be seen as immoral. This was one of many barriers birth control and its education has broken through to reach the public prominence it has today.
What are the resources of Planned Parenthood?
When looking at the website of Planned Parenthood, I found it to have easy to find tabs and info for women or anyone wanting resources. Topics cover: Pregnancy Prevention, to Health and Wellness, Sex and Relationships, and Sexually Transmitted
Infections (STDs). Additionally, there are guides for high school students and information about sex education. All this I believe is vital to not only women but men as well. In Idaho, there are three centers of Planned Parenthood: Boise Health Center, Meridian Health Center, and Twin Falls Health Center. Therefore, if you wanted to go to one in Idaho from Moscow, it would be about a six-hour drive. That is a long distance. Luckily, there is one across the border in Pullman, Washington.
Recently, I talked about the company Thinx and all they do and reviewed one of their products, the period underwear. I want to continue this conversation and talk about periods.
That’s right, the monthly gift women get that ruins our clothes, causes us pain, and tells us we aren’t pregnant. Periods are natural and most of us get them. Yet, for some reason, we aren’t supposed to talk about them. God forbid we actually educate girls about their health but, unfortunately, periods make men uncomfortable so we aren’t supposed to talk about it.
Products for people with periods, Thinx is a company based in NYC that makes underwear to wear during menstruation. They sell these period panties to women who want them and provide period products to girls who need them.
Co-founded by the CEO Miki Agrawal, Thinx started in 2014 to break the period taboo. They offer an online store that sells period panties (underwear to wear while menstruating) and other period products. They also work with afripads for every pair sold to provide affordable, reusable pads to girls in developing countries.
I was a little shaken after doing my last blog post, My Week With Makeup. It was really hard to see two pictures of me, side by side, where I looked completely different. When I looked at myself wearing makeup, I felt like I finally measured up to the other girls I see walking around campus, the girls who look flawless. I looked older wearing makeup, and certainly more put together. I have a younger sister who is seventeen, and whenever we meet new people, they assume that she is older. Why? She wears makeup, she actually curls or straightens her hair in the morning, she’s polished and flawless and put together and so people assume she is older.
You’ve probably heard of PMS, but may not be aware of another severe type of premenstrual condition known as PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Approximately 3%- 10% of menstruating girls and women are affected by this condition, which can lead to severe mood swings, deep depression, feelings of anxiety, a sense of hopelessness—all of which can immensely affect one’s ability to perform their normal daily routine and feel like themselves. I know these feelings well because I have experienced this firsthand and it wreaked havoc on my life. Continue reading “The Power of PMDD”→
Sex crimes are unique because they are extremely private yet prevalent. Every sexual assault is unique to the victim; yet so many women, and sometimes men, have had similar experiences. Falling victim to a sex crime is an experience that makes the victim feel ashamed of something that happened to their own body.
Of all the health topics pertaining to women, menstruation has to be the most commonly swept under the rug. Which is ironic, considering nearly every person with female reproductive organs will experience it. Not only do we not openly discuss the normal, regular occurrence of menstruating itself, we are taught not to talk about anything regarding periods—products, effects on daily life, or serious health concerns. There is a huge cloud of shame that follows a woman’s period almost everywhere in the world that leaves women feeling even more negative towards what can be an already unpleasant experience. Society expects us to hide tampons on our way to the bathroom, keep quiet about painful physical symptoms, and blame normal emotions on PMS.
One of the many detrimental side effects of silence around periods is the lack of knowledge it creates. When there is a stigma attached to a part of your body, some go to extreme efforts to avoid it at all costs. There are so many women who have never even looked at their own vagina, let alone explored and learned about their body during menstruation. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where looking at and understanding your body was encouraged, which I found to be vital to my wellbeing—especially my reproductive health. The female reproductive system is intensely complicated, and remaining in the dark by not exploring can be dangerous and cause women to feel uncomfortable about speaking up when something is wrong.
As women, taking care of our bodies can sometimes feel like a full-time job. I also think a lot of us can attest to not always making time for that particular job, maybe putting its related tasks and responsibilities on the back burner for a little too long. In our productivity-driven society, we’ve prioritized so many things over our physical and mental health, to the point where it can be dangerous. Ignoring symptoms, trying to self-diagnose or self-medicate, or simply not listening to our bodies when something is wrong are all too common for women in America. There’s a subtle yet pervasive stigma for women around being thought to complain about our health that often perpetuates these behaviors. Women frequently think, “I’ll be fine, I’m just overreacting” or “I don’t have the time (or money/resources/support) to see a doctor right now” or even “This is normal and happens to all women”—generally down-playing what can sometimes turn out to be symptoms of serious health conditions. This stigma plays a huge role in many issues that women face, including heart disease, which is the leading cause of death of women in the United States.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well- being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Sounds like a daunting task to me. In our society, being a woman carries a full set of expectations. Looking a certain way, acting appropriately, being in a healthy relationship, having plans for the future, and taking on whatever else the world has to offer us that day, with a smile. For me, trying to live up to these unrealistic standards is impossible and not something I’m interested in. I am rarely realizing my full potential, coping with stress, working fruitfully, and contributing to society all at once. But feeling like that is still my responsibility as a member of society is a heavy burden to carry. I believe mental health is all too commonly ignored as the most important aspect of our overall well-being, especially as women. Continue reading “Dispelling the “Crazy Girl” Myth”→