Menstruation Series: Part I

Hey everyone!

A couple of months ago, my partner and I were invited to serve in the Peace Corps. Super exciting! While we are still waiting for medical clearance (fingers crossed), this possible adventure got me thinking a lot about periods. Where we were going, there is very little electricity, and no running water, not to mention strict views on gender. What’s more, the more I read about being a woman in a developing country, the more I learned that traditional pads and tampons simply aren’t available due to lacking resources and heavy menstruation taboos. What is a Peace Corps volunteer-hopeful gotta do?

Turns out, there are a couple of ways female volunteers deal with periods out in the field–the Peace Corps supplies all women with menstrual cups. However, I became more interested in how locals deal with menstruation, and of other ways to period both back home and in the developing world. This Menstruation Series will be divided into four parts, each discussing a different period product that is both more environmentally friendly, developing nation friendly, and tested out my yours truly. For part I, I want to share a couple of things I have learned about what it is like to menstruate for girls and women living in the developing world.

Girls miss school.

Yep, you read that right. Millions of girls miss school because of their period–and eventually drop out. This is a problem both where I might be going with the Peace Corps, and worldwide. The infographic above from Her Turn is a great visual of the problems present. Many girls report lacking resources to deal with periods. In rural areas, there are usually no bathrooms, garbage disposal, or running water in schools. Many girls end up using old rags and clothing in place of a pad to get through the few days of their period.

Girls who stay in school longer grow their country’s GDP, have more economic opportunity, less children, marry later in life, and if they do have a family, their kids are more likely to live past the age of 5. Education lifts up everyone, and girls make up half the world. Let’s not keep them back.

There are tons of organizations trying to alleviate the problem sustainably, such as AFRIpads–check them out here.

Menstruation=Taboo

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Another big factor affecting girls and women who are menstruating are the heavy taboos placed upon it. Because there is little education or understanding of female health and hygiene, many people view periods as unnatural and unclean. Sometimes women and girls have to live apart from their communities during their period because of this. And, if a girl bleeds through her clothes at school, she faces extreme embarrassment from community members. If you thought it was hard talking about periods in the United States, think again.

There are programs like WASH by UNICEF that are trying to change this, at least in terms of hygiene for not just girls, but all children. There is also the Thinx Foundation, whose goal is to educate and empower girls around the world, particularly regarding periods.

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That’s all for this week! I encourage you to do further research, because this is an issue we can fight and put an end to. I hope that I am able to dedicate my life to service around the world, and if not that, we can work together to improve the lives of those in our own communities.

Until next time,

Marta

Menstruation Series: Part I

Living Radically: A Capsule Wardrobe

Hey everyone,

This week, I want to share a cool new thing I’ve been doing… capsule wardrobes! What are those, you ask? Simply put, a curated closet with approximately 37 pieces total, including footwear, outerwear, and various accessories. It is a minimalist way to live, and has saved me time, money, and worry.theeverygirl_spring_capsule20wardrobe

A few months ago, I was overwhelmed with life. It is safe to say that perhaps being a senior in college had something to do with it, but at the time I was seriously fed up with everything on my plate. The first victim of a crazed college student? My closet. I remember waking up every morning, going to my closet, looking inside and just wanting to burn it all down. I had tons of clothes, but nothing to wear. I would leave getting dressed to being my last to-do while getting ready in the morning, hoping that a good breakfast came with a stylistic breakthrough. It was at this point that I decided I needed change.

I did lots of searching around the web–mostly how to declutter your life, and other things like that. I felt like I already knew that it all came down to getting rid of the things I don’t need or use, but I needed the Internet’s approval. But through this search, I discovered something trending on minimalism blogs everywhere: the capsule wardrobe. Upon further inspection, I realized… this was exactly what I was looking to do, with a structured approach.

It became so simple: I emptied out my teeming closet, picked out clothes I wore on a regular basis and go-to outfits, and packed away the rest. It felt like my very own boutique, complete with all the items I enjoy wearing. It might sound crazy to have so little in your closet, but let’s be real: you don’t need everything in there. Don’t let consumerism bog you down with the weight of too much textile. Fashion is meant to be innovative and creative–let’s keep it that way.

Living radically,

Marta

 

Living Radically: A Capsule Wardrobe

Living Radically: Graduating Early

Hey readers,

This past weekend, I graduated college! Well, almost. It’s story time.

Three years ago, I graduated high school with every intention to either, A) Travel the world on my own, or B) Move across the country and attend college on the west coast. Instead, I ended up going to college fifteen minutes down the road from my house.

My father is a professor, which means an opportunity for a debt-free education. He works at a business school, which while great, was never a path I wanted to go down. What’s more, I wanted to adventure!!! But with no money saved up and no other prospects, I went to the last place I wanted to be on earth–school with my parents and living at home.

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I have always been the type of person to make the best of any situation, and that is exactly what I did. Freshman year, I joined clubs and found my place learning Mandarin Chinese with an awesome group of people. Sophomore year, I got a job as resident assistant, which allowed me to fulfill my dream of living on campus. That really changed everything, because up until that point, I was trying extremely hard to make friends on campus. The good friends I made in freshman year had graduated or left altogether and like many college students, I had to find some more. While being a resident assistant put me on campus full-time, I can honestly say it is the reason I made my next move: graduate college one year early.

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They say that your vibes attract your tribe, and in my case, I was trapped in a bubble were there were either zero vibes or I wasn’t vibing right. Either way, I didn’t make anymore strong connections at school, and I decided to make the most of my college opportunity in a new way: use my free tuition to take a ton of extra classes and be done with school forever. And so, I did it. I found my class of 2018 gear and changed it all to 2017. I made school about classes and not about making strong connections on campus, and I spent more time on projects like Feminine Boutique (which is way more fun than school).

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Finally, this semester came around. It was the hardest yet, probably because I was so close to the end, and also because I was amidst lining up a job for after I graduated. I kept my head down, worked hard, and managed to make the honor roll for every semester since the beginning of this ride. I chugged through the busy work, the work that actually mattered, and then some. And now, with two summer classes left, I can already say I have crossed the stage and truly took advantage of every opportunity given to me. And, in about two months, I get to finally pursue that dream of traveling the world by serving in the Peace Corps with my partner in crime.

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Moral of the story? No matter the cards you are dealt, keep playing the game. Keep trying, and keep hacking at whatever wall stands in your way, because most walls are worth knocking down. Remember, you are in charge of your destiny.

Living radically,

Marta

Living Radically: Graduating Early

Living Radically: Starting My Own Business!

Hey everyone!

Last time, I talked about my (possibly) crazy decision to cancel my phone plan. You can read it here. This week, I will be talking about why I started my own business!

I had been working a new job for about a month when one week they took me off the schedule and sent an ominous email to call them when I was available. And then… well, for the first time in my entire life, I was fired. I had already gone through three jobs in less than eight months, and the world of employment was beginning to look bleak. The thought of going through yet another pile of applications to work was soul-crushing. I then decided that I was done with it. I was going to pursue a bucket list item: start my own business.

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I have always been quite crafty, and love creating artistic products. I decided to combine my skills in crochet with my passion for creating stuff, and came up with Crochet All May. In one evening, I made a crop top, and the next day I posted it on social media. I wasn’t sure what to expect–Would people be willing to buy my stuff? Things I made myself?

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The response was astounding. People loved it! I took in four orders in less than three days, and was crocheting every spare minute I had. The next week, I created a new design: a bikini top. Crochet is trending, and so many people were interested in this. Now I am working on designs for bikini bottoms, clutches, beach bags, headbands, and any other bohemian item I can think of.

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Being in charge of my income is especially empowering. Being in charge of a very small business is incredible. I have pride in what I create, and connect with my very own clients. I am even fulfilling a long-time dream: being an entrepreneur. All I had to do was get fired (check), create something of value to others (check-check), and go for it (triple check). I get to challenge myself everyday, apply my business education, and do something I love for hours on end.

My end game here is this: if you are thinking of starting a business on your own, go for it. Put yourself out there, because you will never know if it will work if you never try. So far, I have found my own little success, and I am enjoying every second of this new project.

Living radically,

-Marta

P.S. If you need some motivation, read/watch Girlboss. The main character, Sophia, becomes 10x more relatable when you start doing your own thang. 😃

 

Living Radically: Starting My Own Business!

Living Radically: Why I Cancelled My Phone Plan

Ever feel like your phone is just a ticking clock, burning in your hands, and ready to blow any minute? Well, that’s how I felt for months before last week, when I up and canceled my phone plan. I know what you’re thinking: ARE YOU CRAZY?! THAT’S YOUR LIFE LINE!

Here is the thing, though: for me, a phone is a tool, and it should be used as such. Over the years, my phone had become a crutch and a time sink, and was no longer serving me in positive ways. I spent more time looking at my screen and talking to people through there that I didn’t realize that I was ignoring real life. In an effort to be more present and enjoy life a little more, I cut myself off. Here is what happens when you cancel your phone plan.

1. Everyone calls you crazy.

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So, yeah… everyone’s first reaction is that I must be absolutely insane for doing this. What if I got into a car accident? What if I got lost? What if I was in trouble? What if, what if, what if… the list goes on. It made me realize that we spend an awful lot of time being worried about something bad happening, rather than just going with the flow and dealing with problems as they come. Now, I will admit that I use Ting, so I do have a phone number (that I will never give out) and I do have access to cell data. I am also using my smartphone. So, technically, if I were in trouble, I can make a call.

2. You become unreachable – in a good way.

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Now, I’ve already said that I do have service through Ting (pay as you go), but I don’t use it unless I absolutely need it. What I do use to communicate are apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as group apps such as GroupMe. I am at school for about 80% of the time, where I have free access to Wi-Fi. When people have to contact me, they can only do so when I am in range of some Internet. Otherwise, I can enjoy some sweet, no phone time.

3. Freedom has never tasted so sweet

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I will definitely say that the moment I switched out my old SIM card in exchange for a new one, I felt extremely liberated. I was no longer tied to answering text after text, or taking calls from sales people. No more annoying subscription texts either! Cancelling my phone plan and going Wi-Fi only has allowed me to enjoy myself more, mostly because when I am out and about, I can’t check my phone for notifications. Unplugging has definitely pushed me to go out and have more fun, and has made a ton more room for hobbies.

4. Bills go down drastically.

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I have been analyzing every part of my life to find new ways to save myself money (woot, college life). One that was a particular head scratcher was my phone bill. I kept my smartphone after my contract was up, and that cut my bill in half. However, I still was not satisfied. I found all sorts of things on Google, such as GoogleFi, Wireless Republic, even just getting an old Nokia. Then I found Ting, which honestly worked best with what I was looking for and with my lifestyle. I just pay for what I use, and I intended to use very little of that cell data. As such, my bill is only $12-$15.

5. You begin to value your time, and be more present.

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The driving moment for me to actually follow through and cancel my phone plan happened late on a weekday night. I felt like no matter how many times I swiped away at notifications on my screen, there were twenty more waiting in line. It was almost as if everyone else was running my life, and I was strapped into the passenger seat. There was no barrier between me and school and work. I literally broke down, and could not talk to anyone for hours. Even my partner was banned from the room until I managed to calm down. My phone had turned into a soul-sucker, and all I wanted to do was go on airplane mode so that no one could bother me again.

Cutting myself off allowed me to control how much access people had to me, and how much time I made for myself. When at school, my school friends can reach me through messenger apps when it comes to projects and homework. While at home, I might shut off conversations about school and only let in ones from family and friends. When I am out and about, no one can reach me, and I don’t have to pay attention to school or work messages at all. My time is valuable, and being present have significantly improved my overall quality life.

Living radically (and unplugged),

Marta

Living Radically: Why I Cancelled My Phone Plan

Tuesday Spotlight: Miti Desai

Miti Desai is our New York foodie on Feminine Boutique. She studies writing at Sarah Lawrence College just outside the Big Apple, but is actually from Mumbai, India. She calls herself a writer—which she finds to be a conflicting title some days. When she isn’t exploring the city, she can be found enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the day away. Besides Feminine Boutique, she works on many other writing projects such as Miti&Marta and a weekly newsletter.

Miti and I became friends two years ago while working on a business project we both did not particular enjoy. We connected as aspiring writers and avid readers, and bonded over our love of YouTube characters like VlogBrothers and Casey Neistat. We work on multiple projects together, most of them centered on writing, and keep each other motivated to being better people and better writers. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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With her time in college is coming to an end, she Miti has spent a lot of time thinking about her future life after school’s out forever. Her greatest aspiration is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. “With extreme overthinking and listening I’ve realized that every human being invariably makes a difference in someone’s life.” She is very self-aware, and makes sure she pays tribute to those who have positively impacted her own life. It pushes her to pay it forward, and keep the positivity flowing forward.

A big part of being able to meaningfully contribute to the lives of others is this, and a great lesson Miti has found over the years is this: “Help yourself before saving others.” Over and over again, this has rung true in her own life. There is no way you can be a positive influence to others if you do not positively influence yourself. This is part of another life goal for Miti: keep shaping herself as a person, and keep growing.

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Miti is fascinated by the sheer breadth of amazing stuff in the world—she described to me one of her recent mornings. It went like this: “I spent most of my shift at work this morning listening to the new Rookie podcast, reading an interview about Vivian Gornick, researching independent magazines, editing a piece for class.” She mentions that she loves keeping herself busy, because there is literally no end to things you can discover. This reminds me to stay curious.

All this stuff drives her crazy, too. “There is so much out there that I don’t know,” she writes, “I keep myself busy with things to look at and projects I need to work on. All of that motivates me.” She spends much of her time with friends and family, her own thoughts, stories of others. It all drives her to keep doing cool things, and not to waste a single second of her life doing simply nothing.

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I like talking to people about what they find their greatest challenge to be, and for Miti it is dealing with fear and anxiety—something I believe many readers can connect with. Worry and fear are just obstacles that, more often than not, we have to barrel through, knock down, swat away. By spending time meticulously planning and trying to avoid mistakes, we inevitably lead a life that is unsatisfying and unhappy.

Miti shared with me her way of getting past fear and anxiety, and it very literally is to say, ‘fuck it.’ Seriously, screw it all. “I am a very anxious person, I like to plan things and know where my day or life is headed,” she says, “But this pattern keeps holding me back, so I have been working hard to let go of the ‘knowing,’ and go with the flow.” She achieves a lot of this by venturing out into the city and allowing her to find new places and experiences on the go.

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Miti is also hyper aware of where her fears come from, and it is from toxic thinking. “You are your worst critic. That’s the only thing that’s stopping you from getting what you want.” Kicking habitual thoughts like this is way easier said than done, but she strives to overcome it every day – and make sure the people in her life don’t fall into such negative thinking. Take a good look at yourself, and find the beauty therein, because it really is there! We are the only one’s getting in our own way.

At the end of the day, we just want to achieve some form of happiness. It is good to take a rest, and Miti’s life motto is eat good food. “That always makes me happy and who doesn’t like being happy!?” Take time for yourself, be generous to others, carry love in your heart, and everything else will fall into place. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Miti.

 

Tuesday Spotlight: Miti Desai

Tuesday Spotlight: Gianna Salazar

Gianna Salazar is a writer here on Feminine Boutique, as well as actress extraordinaire, environmental advocate, and bookworm. She studies Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. When she isn’t working at Whole Foods and Guess, she spends her time dancing, playing guitar (electric, specifically), hiking, learning languages, and swimming. Without further ado… I give you the fabulous Gianna!

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You never know what the day is going to hold for you… if you wake up and you get ready and you open yourself up, something amazing can show itself.

Gianna is the second in a mini Tuesday Spotlight series on the women that make Feminine Boutique shine. A close friend of mine since high school, she is a constant inspiration to me to keep doing amazing things and let nothing hold me back. She writes about everything from hair care routines to environmentally friendly shopping. This is your go-to gal for candid conversations and fun adventures.

Gianna exudes good vibes. Every day at 7AM, she hits the ground running with the notion that something she does today will matter. “There’s always a possibility for learning and growth in every day,” she explains. She finds these opportunities is everything she does, whether it’s at school, work, and even in the things she does for fun.

A large part of Gianna’s motivation is that she loves what she gets to do every single day. Most of her time is spent on acting and film (her greatest passions), so she is constantly growing and improving her skills in this area. “When I was in high school… I would dream of the day when I would get up and just act.” She follows this with saying that she really is realizing her dream—she wakes up, and she goes acting, dancing, singing. Now her dream is to get up and go to set, and have that be her career.

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When you’re doing something that you’re passionate about and that you are meant to do, the feeling that you get when you are doing it is… indescribable.

Passion is at the center of everything Gianna does, whether it be in what she does every day, or what she hopes to do in the future. When she is acting, she says, “I feel like every cell in my body is celebrating like, ‘yes, go Gianna!’” This is what inspires her to keep trekking down the path she is on. She loves every second, and every ounce of work it takes to get to the next phase in her plans to take the performing world by storm is worth it.

Her future plans and dreams are multi-faceted. “When I was younger, I knew I wanted to be a performer… but, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that there are so many other things I want to do.” Through her studies, Gianna found that she loves being in front of the camera as much as behind it. Dancing and singing are also central to her career goals. Self-sufficiency is key to her plans; as an actress, she wants to be in charge of some portion of everything she creates.

Another piece to her future is being able to make a true impact on the world. “I want to be able to inspire people through my art.” She wants to make a difference in terms of how people view the planet, themselves, and others. Our society tends to close its mind to the things it does not want to hear, namely knowing the effects of what we do on a daily basis to our environment. “I think that artists especially have a duty to raise awareness and… enlighten people.”

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If you’re gonna watch me, if you are going to see what I do, you’re going to see something that’s important. You are going to see who I am and what I believe in.

“I think that the biggest challenge I have faced so far as a woman… I think is realizing how much misogyny really runs deep in this society.” Gianna grew up thinking that being a woman is the greatest thing ever; she was lucky to come from a family of strong, empowered women. While she still feels this way, she has also become aware that the world we live in tends to demonize femininity.

Having gotten into the dating scene, these patriarchal tendencies come through quite clearly. “I think that if I brought this up to a lot of [guys], they wouldn’t even think that what they are doing is wrong.” The depth at which being female is considered bad, and being male is considered powerful and good, is shocking. “That just proves that [misogyny] runs so deep.”

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Everybody comes from a woman. If you deny feminine qualities… then what do we think of ourselves?

Gianna knows that while the intention to put women down is not always there, the expectation that women will step down is. “They get mad at you for speaking your mind, or they want you to just shut up and just be pretty.” She has even experienced that while men might compliment your intellect and personality, as soon as a woman begins to talk, their voice is drowned out in misogyny. Women shouldn’t be ‘that smart’ or ‘too sure of themselves’.

On top of this, Gianna says that as people, we need to be honest with ourselves, no matter who or what we are dealing with. “I’m gonna be polite to myself and speak my mind.” Being polite doesn’t equate to disregarding your own feelings. No matter what kind of relationship you are in, honesty is key. “I’m not going to sit down. I’m not going to do something that I am uncomfortable with simply because I’m a woman and I shouldn’t say anything.”

She delves into how women have always been a force in history—it is when we speak up that amazing things can happen. “There have always been women that have said, ‘Eff the status quo, I’m going to do what I want to do because this is what I was called to do as a human being.’” She then demonstrates what she referred to as ‘hater-blocking’. Just swat away the bad vibes!

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Be a badass ‘cause you are a badass!

Gianna likes to encourage other women to keep growing and to push for their dreams against any odds. She makes a good case for the kind of people to keep in your life, stating, “If someone is in your life and they’re not supporting you and they’re not trying to help you grow… it’s not worth it.” No matter what path (or paths) you choose to take in life, those surrounding you should be cheering you on, not bringing you down.

Adding to this, being empowered does not mean being the next big ‘thing’ in any industry. “Where do you feel like you shine?” Whether it’s homemaking, or science, or business, go and do that thing that makes waking up in the morning the most exciting part of your day. Wake up, and go do the things you love. Most importantly, don’t let anyone, or anything hold you back. “If you feel it in here,” she says, gesturing to her heart, “you’re supposed to do it.”

There is something spectacular inside of you that is trying to get out, and I think the most spectacular thing someone can be is themselves.

Tuesday Spotlight: Gianna Salazar