Dealing with a Depressed Parent

Hispanic girk looking sad

According to a study performed in 2005 by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM), depression affects 6.9 % of Puerto Ricans, 2.5% of Cuban-Americans and 2.8% percent of Mexican-Americans. As a teen, it can be difficult to have a depressed parent. Between irritability and mood changes, having a relationship while trying to help a parent can be difficult.

“To cheer up a parent/guardian you need to know what is wrong  [with him/her]… All [she/he] could need is someone to talk to or to hug while [he/she] cries about it,” said Elena Galdeano, 18.

Signs of Depression

First and foremost, you are not the reason for your parent’s sadness; you might be tone of the reasons that could make him/her happier. Depression can affect anyone, and spotting the signs of depression may help you understand what he/she is going through and how to help them.

Depression is caused by a variety of reasons. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people who show signs and symptoms of depression have:

  •                Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  •                Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  •                Irritability, restlessness
  •                Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  •                Fatigue and decreased energy
  •                Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  •                Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  •                Overeating, or appetite loss
  •                Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  •                Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not
    ease even with treatment.

Talking About Depression

When someone is depressed, he/she might need a hug or someone to talk to. If part of his/her depression involves a lot of anger, frustration and irritability, try to remember that his/her frustration may stem from a deeper place (what’s causing the depression) and it’s not directly because of you. Strong emotions mean that he/she will need to seek professional help.

“While it could be scary and strange to see a parent crying it [talking to them about it, letting them cry] could be helpful for them,” Galdeano said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.”

If your parent refuses to seek professional help, you will not automatically become his/her therapist.

“Don’t tell them you know exactly what they’re going through, unless you have had depression, too,” said Kao.

His/her problems may not be within your control, but you can do simple things around the house to help create a more positive environment. You can help relieve his/her stress by showing them that you care.

“Make them feel needed or important. It’s beneficial for depressed [people] to feel they have meaning in their lives and feel connected with the people around them,” said Stephanie Kao, University of Texas at Austin Sophomore.

Additional ways to show them that you care is by helping out more around the house and maintaining a peaceful and positive environment.

“Getting their mind off it for a moment while they work on it [their problem] by singing or taking them for a walk,” Galdeano said. 

Added stress contributes to depression. Picking your battles (not fighting with parents even though they are showing signs of irritability), taking out the trash, doing laundry, cooking a meal, etc. Between helping out around the house and talking to him/her about depression may make him/her more open to seeking professional help (e.g. counseling).

Dealing With Depression

Dealing with a parent who is depressed can affect you emotionally, too. Take time for yourself. Otherwise, you may become sad from the high-stress environment. Your health is important, which means helping out a parent is not your full-time job.

“Reach out to relatives to have them try to connect with that parent or guardian, too,” said Kao.

Consequences of Depression

Surround yourself with a positive support system with friends and family. Dealing with depression is difficult for the person going through it as well as those around him/her, but a positive support system can help you get through this situation. If you feel that things could escalate to a point where you feel unsafe, have a relative who can act as the mediator or have a back-up place to stay with a friend or relative in case things escalate.

It can be hard coming of age and dealing with the physical and/or mental absence of a parent. However, it can be done and has been done. With the tips mentioned above it is hoped you can do the same. And remember, you have a support system. There are people rooting for your and your parent to get out of their slump as well.

Dressing For a Petite Frame

For many Latinas and girls of Hispanic ethnicity, being petite comes with the territory. While this is not true for every Latina, for those who are, it can be challenging to find something to wear that is both flattering, and not made to fit a small child. Being petite has its perks. The petite frame allows for shorter (but not too short) skirts, the ability to wear a nice pump or wedge and not look ridiculous, and the bragging rights to being “fun sized.”

Here are some tips on finding clothes that celebrate and flatter a small frame and some that give the illusion of a couple of added inches:

1. The Pencil Skirt Might Not Be Your Friend

For things like interviews and semi formal events, avoid the pencil skirt. They are most likely snug in all the wrong places and too lengthy. You want to be comfortable and chic at an interview; instead, opt for a flowy A-line skirt that will hit at your knee or just above it.

2. Matching Tights and Shoes

In the fall and winter seasons, wear solid colored tights underneath your skirts or shorts with matching shoes for a lengthier illusion on your legs. For example, if you are wearing black tights beneath a dress, opt for black shoes for a longer leg illusion.

3. Avoid Ankle Cuffs

Shoes that cuff, or stop at the ankle, can make a short frame appear shorter.  For this reason, look for shoes that don’t cut off the view from your leg to your foot. Ballet flats, sandals, and/or pumps won’t make you appear shorter as long as they don’t have a cuff.

4. Peplum Blouses

Shirts that cinch at the waist and flare out look great on pretty much everyone. Peplum blouses especially show off a curvy figure and look great no matter your height. This type of shirt or dress is always flattering, and having one or two in your closet handy for a special occasion, or even just a day where you don’t want to wear jeans and a t-shirt is a must.

getting dressed

5. Maxi skirts and Dresses

Maxi length bottoms and dresses might make you turn away with thoughts of tripping over the pretty hem, but have no fear. You too can rock a maxi skirt without stumbling. The key to wearing a maxi skirt is making sure it fits your waist nicely and that the length comes down just over your feet and not an inch longer. This is different if you choose to wear wedges or heels with this piece, and in this case you can afford for your skirt to drag if you try it on without these shoes.

High School Survival Guide

latina student with backpackWhen middle school is finally over, you feel great about yourself and are exited to start a brand new experience at your future high school. Some girls feel completely the opposite; they are scared to set foot on unknown lands. If you have a headache or your stomach hurts by just listening to the “H” word (high school), here are some tips to start high school on the right foot.

1. Speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get along with your teachers.

 Sometimes we see our teachers as being super mean and strict, but, in reality, they are not so bad. Teachers are the best people you could ever meet. To be honest, you do not want to be on the bad side of a teacher, because sometimes they will make your year suck. Be friendly with them, try to talk to them and soon you will realize that they can help you with any problem you have with the class or even life. If at any time you do not understand something about the lesson, do not be afraid to ask questions. Trust me, they do not bite.

2. Make new friends!

Alexis Bobadilla, Club Leader for Latinitas, says to not close yourself off from people when you enter high school. Being shy is not a bad thing; for at least one day, try to talk to the girl or boy that sits next to you. Maybe she or he might end up being your best friend in the future. Open up and be friendly. You do not have to be Miss Popular, but trying to make new friends with the people you are going to see for the next four years will make high school more fun.

3. Explore the school! Know where everything is located before you start the school year.

High school has some pranksters, especially the upperclassmen (juniors and seniors). When you are a freshmen everything is new, so explore the school or look at a map before school starts to see where the main stuff is located (library, computer lab, your classes, etc.). It will come in handy in case you come across a prankster.

“I remember that the seniors will tell us that the pool was at the 4th floor of the building;  little did we know that we didn’t have a 4th floor… or a pool! It sucked,” shares Alexisis.

Watch out for the pranksters! Knowing where your classes are and where everything is located boosts your confidence and makes you stand out from most freshmen.

4. Get involved! 

Try to get involve in school activities, such as clubs, sports, etc. School activities can definitely help you with your college applications, scholarships, and even work applications.  They are also a great way to make new friends, meet new people (students, teachers, etc.) and learn new skills.

5. Always be yourself!

Do not be afraid to show off your amazing personality and stay true to yourself. Peer pressure will happen, but you are the only one that knows what is right in this situation, not your friends. Your parents taught you to be an amazing, honest, and trustworthy person, so if your friend is telling you to do something your not comfortable with or know is wrong…. do not do it! It is very important for young girls to appreciate and value themselves; do not let anyone put you down.  Always remember that you are a beautiful and your personality is just as beautiful — embrace and love it! Your friends will love you for who you are, so do not pretend to be someone you are not just to fit in.  a

High school should be one of the best experiences of your life, but sometimes it will be tough. It is up to you to make the best of it. Be yourself, get involved, and make new friends. After high school, you will be remembered for how you treated people and what you did.

Advice: Job Hunting

now-hiring-signIt is absolutely horrible, it really is. It is hard and, let’s be honest, really tedious. No one wants to fill out application after application and have to buy 37 ink cartridges for the printer because you’re printing out 4507315435 copies of your resume. That being said, jobs are necessary. You can’t get away from it, but there are ways to make your life easier during the job hunt. Here are tips for job hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

1.     Make sure you have a really good résumé.
Every career driven girl knows that a resume is the most important thing. Employers ask for a résumé all the time, so it’s really helpful to have one on file at all times. Make sure that you have your résumé updated so that it includes all your recent accomplishments, jobs, volunteer positions as well as current personal information.

Nothing looks more unprofessional than having typos and incorrect grammar on a résumé. After using spell check on your computer, have your parents or a teacher look it over. If you’re a college student, you can take your résumé to your university’s career center — an office that helps students with free career and interview advice.

2.  Apply everywhere.
Many upper-level jobs require some type of previous experience, and it is incredibly difficult to get a job like that without it. Now is a good time to get a head start. While it won’t sound too glamorous to say that you’re a sandwich artist at Subway, it will help you when you’re trying to get that job as an assistant chef at a classy restaurant down the line. Even if it’s not your dream job, you will pick up skills to boost your résumé and help you land your dream job in the future. For potential employment opportunities, look in your local newspapers employment section or visit websites like Monster.com and Indeed.com. Word of mouth can also be helpful, so ask your friends and teachers if they know of any job openings.

Jasmine Hansberry,19, recommends that girls try to apply to jobs that are closely related to what they are good at. ”If you are good at certain things, go after a job that you know you can work at and get promoted. For example, if you are good at talking to new people try customer service.”

Even though you are applying at several places at once, chances are you might not receive a follow-up e-mail or interview from each application. The more you apply means the greater your chances are of landing a job.

“I applied to a lot of places during the winter break and only one place called me back, but I ended up getting that job,” shares Marlett Mojica, 19.

Playing the waiting game can be stressful, but while you’re waiting make sure you practice for the next step in the job hunt: the interview.

3.     Make sure you’ve practiced for an interview.
 This is a biggie. Not only will it keep you calm but it’ll help you practice answering difficult questions like why do you want to work there and what you can contribute to the company.”Make sure you are friendly during the interview. Be nice and don’t be rude. Make sure you are honest in the interview and tell the truth… [and] say thank you for this interview at the end, ” shares Marlett.

It usually helps to have a parent, teacher or someone with a job help you practice your interviewing skills. When you get an interview, you need to make sure you are dressed professionally and be very respectful and positive during the interview.

4.     Make sure you play up your skills and talents.
 Ask your family and friends to share what they think are your biggest skills as a starting point. Are you a good writer, working with children, and meeting new people? Think about any awards you’ve won, any leadership roles you’ve held in student organizations, or any volunteer experience you have. You can use this to create a list of skills and talents to add to your résumé or mention in an interview. There isn’t anything bad with bragging about what you’re good at.  It makes you seem confident and it helps convince potential employers that you’d be really good at helping them.  Be careful though, don’t overplay it because you may run the risk of seeming cocky. Also, and this is a biggie, don’t say you have a skill you really don’t have because it can backfire.

Jasmine encourages girls to have confidence and not be afraid to step up and take the initiative to follow-up with a job application. “If there is a certain job you like, make the effort to call them. A lot of bosses will think that you really want this job and that they should give you a chance.”

Finding a job can be difficult, but always keep your head up. ”Even though it may seem hard, don’t quit. Give yourself a chance and you will find a job,” reminds Marlett.

The Big Move: Living with a Roommate

Photo Credit: Studentuniverse.com

Photo Credit: Studentuniverse.com

The fall semester is around the corner, and many nervous college freshmen are anxiously waiting to take the next big step of moving away for college.Whether you’ve shared a room at home or will be sharing for the first time this upcoming fall semester, transitioning to living with a roommate is a big change that requires some adjusting of your daily routine, maturity, and ability to compromise.

What to expect if you’re rooming random

Moving away from home is a big step, and, most likely, you might be moving to a college with little to no friends or family close by. Every college has a “roommate matching” process, which is an automatic system that pairs you up with another student living in your dorm based on a questionnaire. This assigned roommate might be in your same year, and most schools will ask you about grade level, how late you stay up and how early you go to bed, your social activity (how likely you are to bring guests, if you’re thinking about pledging greek life, etc.), and your preferred room temperature (for dorms that have their own thermostat in each room). The system will then “consider” these factors during the matching process. However, you are not guaranteed to end up with someone who answered these questions the same as you. You also have the option to put a “roommate preference”, but, again, it’s not guaranteed you will end up with someone you prefer. However, there are ways to room random that will make for an okay living situation.

Having an assigned roommate is a learning experience. Be prepared to adjust to living with a completely different personality. The system may think that you two are compatible, but sometimes personalities will clash. When rooming with someone you have never met or know, it can be difficult to decide which issues are meant to be further addressed and which are not issues at all.

“I used the roommate finder [for my school] and met a girl,”22 year old Brittany Golden said. “We hung out a few times to make sure we were compatible.”

Some may not as lucky as Brittany, and there are a fair share of roommate horror stories out there. Don’t be afraid, not all random roommate situations turn out bad. One useful thing to know about rooming random is to try to understand the other person’s point of view. For example, if your roommate does something you consider unethical or rude, your roommate may not even see it as a problem. With that being said, if it really is a big issue, it’s important to let your roommate know in a way that it does not appear you are attacking her.

Establishing boundaries with a roommate

When sharing a room with someone else you’re bound to have some conflict because, even though you’re no longer with your parents, you are still living with someone else’s standards and boundaries. It’s important for you and your roommate to establish boundaries in order to avoid conflict in the future. For example, if you are absolutely not okay with friends staying the night in your room, it is important to let your roommate know instead of waiting for the day you come home to a stranger three feet from your bed. Yikes!

“We made list of things we liked and disliked,” Golden said. “We’re still friends today.”

When you establish boundaries you will also need to be ready to make compromises. For example, if you love staying up late and blasting your music, chances are you will need to turn it down. Not only will it annoy your roommate, unless you both like to do this, but in a dorm it will lead to noise complaints and be paid a not-so-lovely visit from your RA (Resident Assistant). The key to a successful living arrangement with anyone is communication, but there will be times when boundaries and compromise are not enough to avoid conflict.

Handling conflict with a roommate

Pick and choose your battles. Ask yourself: “Is the issue I’m having effecting the both of us or effecting me in a big way? Is it in compliance with housing policies?” These are important things to consider before confronting your roommate. While it’s important to be an adult and confront an issue, it’s also important to make sure the issue is really an issue before having heated discussions with your roommate.

Using the “It’s ‘we’ not ‘you’” statement can help resolve conflict. For example, if your roommate is leaving their laundry everywhere, saying something like: “It’s important that we respect each other and the room in compliance with housing policies and maintain its cleanliness and odor” sounds less defensive than saying “You’re a disgusting slob! Pick up your mess!” When phrased with a “we” attitude, it addresses that you have an issue, but in a way that the benefit of fixing the issue is not just for you, but for the both of you. Highlighting mutual benefits can be a great way to help your roommate see how something can be a problem.

Living with a roommate is a learning experience, but, in the end, you’ll find out more about yourself. You might even wind up becoming best friends with your new roomie!

Do’s and Don’ts on Throwing a Grad Party

Photo Credit: Partycity.com

Photo Credit: Partycity.com

For the month of May and June, calendars are full of graduation ceremonies and celebrations. When it comes to planning your own graduation party, it can be a little hectic for some party planners. ”I try throwing a party every now and then, but something just isn’t right-  some of my friends have fun and some don’t. I want everyone to have fun and everyone to say what a great host I am,but I need help to make it extra fun,” said Bailey, 18.

Like Bailey, Jane feels stressed when it comes to throwing parties.

“I always try throwing a party, but somehow it always gets ruined. I get really insecure about the people in my home. I am always in the lookout of something breaking, or of someone getting hurt,so most of the time I don’t even have fun because of how much I am worrying about it. I just want to have real fun without over thinking every little detail my friends do,” said Jane, 17.

Throwing a graduation party takes a lot of planning, but, with a little help from Latinitas, planning a party can be stress-free. But where should you start? Here are some Do’s and Dont’s for throwing your very own graduation party.

Do’s

Make sure to invite people that you can trust, because your real friends wouldn’t disrespect your home or your rules; always stay positive and have an upbeat attitude. Don’t rely on everyone else to be upbeat, smile, jump around, laugh, have a great time, it’s your graduation night!

Food

A good party always has some sort of food, not a whole meal where you have to cook, but snacks that you know the majority of people like. Everyone loves free food, especially if it’s something they like. Throw in some chips, a salsa or dip, maybe some wings of different flavors, some nachos,  or even pizza; you want to make something that will be fast and tasty, nothing that will make too much of a mess. Make sure to use paper plates and cups so that you don’t have to worry about washing dirty dishes!

Music

Always have upbeat music at the party! Try creating a playlist beforehand to avoid different music you don’t like to play. If you love Spotify and Pandora for a quick playlist, put them on hold in order to prevent the ads from breaking up the fun atmosphere! Everyone is at your party to have fun, so keep it upbeat! Putting instrumental music or slow music will make it seem like it’s a prom. Lively music will make your party a hit!

 Theme

Try choosing a theme to the party so everyone can dress up accordingly. Plus, having a theme can make the party seem more entertaining.  For example, a Hawaiian theme can lead to people wearing hay skirts, flowered patterns, etc. A themed or costume party means people can show off their creativity or wear their favorite costume.  If having a themed or costume party is not your thing, that’s okay!

Don’ts

Angry Neighbors

If you are throwing this party at your house, make sure to tell your neighbors you’re going to have some friends over and if they have a problem to call your cellphone. Your neighbors will appreciate your initiative to take action when your friends are laughing a little too loud. Being the “noisy” neighbor may lead to a neighbor reporting you for noise complaints. Avoid having to shut down your party by keeping the noise and music level to tolerable level.  If you can’t hear yourself think, then the party might be a little too loud.

Rules

Having a few house rules, like not going into your parent’s bedroom or touching your mom’s fancy and expensive decoration or painting, is normal, but having too many or outrageous rules can ruin the fun atmosphere — like yelling at a friend for not putting a hand towel in the right place. Unless your guests are disrespecting your home or one another, relax and have fun! Don’t think something bad is going to happen, be positive.

No One is Alone

Don’t let your friends wander around your home looking for the restroom, instead lead the way to the restroom in order to avoid them getting into the wrong room. Talk to everyone, it’s your party, your house, don’t exclude anyone out. Make conversation with everyone, don’t let everyone hanging. Come up with ice breakers to break the tension or come up with small talk about  at anything you can think of –the new movie that just came out, how they feel of being done with school, where they are going to college, etc. — be creative, be friendly, and be yourself!

Not too many Do’s and Dont’s to remember, but make sure to simply be yourself at your party. People will love your party and they’ll want you to throw more; don’t be worried about anything, just have a good time and be friendly with others.

Honoring Motherly Figures

Latinitas Austin - Parent and Daughter Workshop

Latinitas Austin – Parent and Daughter Workshop

Mother’s Day is the day you go above and beyond to support, spoil, and go over the top to find the perfect gift for your mom. You tell your mom you love her, you tell her things you don’t tell her every day, the same things, year after year. For some people, this is an exciting and a happy day, but for others, it’s a bittersweet feeling. For some, a motherly figure is sometimes not even a woman.

Some girls experience the love of a mother for a temporary amount of time and only have one person to look up to. “I still have a mother, but she left when I was only 8 years old. I have siblings, but they all live in different cities and I’m not as close to them. They’re much older than I am, and it’s only my dad and I. When it’s Mother’s Day, I don’t feel mad, but I also don’t feel happy. I sometimes do feel sad, because I really have no feminine guidance or help,” said Stephanie, 23. She grew up on her own, went through a girl’s passage to a lady on her own, with no one but her dad to look up to.

“But I love my dad, and he goes beyond what I ask for him, only to make sure I’m well. I wouldn’t trade him for anything or anyone, he might not be my mom, but he’s much more; he’s both parents,” Stephanie added. Although she no longer has her mother, she still feels secure and happy with her own motherly figure, her father.

Even though Stephanie went through harsh times, she always knew she could count on her dad, and doesn’t hold grudges against her mom for not being there. She considers her dad as both parents because he has been trying to play both roles throughout her life.

Other girls have experienced a great loss of their mother, but still feel close despite her passing. “I lost my mom 2 years ago. I loved her with all my heart, and it completely destroyed me when she left, but I know she’s in a happier place now. When Mother’s Day comes, I don’t feel sad. My family and I still wish her a happy Mother’s Day, and we still appreciate everything she ever did for us,” said Maria, 19. Although Maria lost her mom when she was 17 years old, she still takes flowers to her mom, she still talks to her, and she knows her mother is watching out and taking care of her.

“Before I go to bed I like to talk to her about my day. I ask her for help when I need it, and sometimes I even feel her hugging me when I’m sad,” Maria added. She knows she isn’t physically with her anymore, but even then they still have a close relationship. Maria still thinks her mom is with her, even if it is only by spirit, because she feels a strong bond that unites her and her mom.

While certain girls have the privilege to have been raised by their own mother, some didn’t get the chance to ever meet their own mother. “I never met my mother. I’ve seen her in pictures though, and she was beautiful. I was raised by my grandma, and I consider her my mother. I know she’s always there if I need anything. During Mother’s Day, I celebrate my grandmother, even with her age, she took me in and gave me everything and much more, even when she couldn’t. I look up to her, she is my motherly figure,” said Andrea, 20.

We all have different stories, some are similar, but none are the same. A mother is irreplaceable, and some play the role wonderfully. Even though some people have gone through roller coasters of feelings, they always have that one person to look up to when they’re feeling down. Make sure you say thank you, not just during Mother’s Day, and show them how much you appreciate what they do for you, a mother, a father, your own motherly figure.

Advice: BFF and Boyfriend Woes

art pieceLatinitas received questions from our readers asking for advice.

What can I do when my friend is trying to take away my friends? And sometimes I get so mad I want to hit the girl that tried to take my friends away, what can I do?

The important thing to do is to always stay calm. First, try talking to the girl that wants to take your friends, tell her that what she is doing is making you feel sad and alone, maybe she doesn’t realize what she is doing. If your friends go with her and leave you by yourself then they’re not your real friends. You can meet new people and make new friends, don’t get mad over things you have the capability of fixing, you can have better friends and be happier with them.

My friend just moved to another city recently. We promised we would call each other and keep in touch, but lately she hasn’t called or even texted. I miss her very much but I don’t want to force her to talk to me or bug her. What do I do?

I know you miss her and you want to talk to them as much as possible, but maybe they’ve been busy lately. Think about it, she moved to a whole different city, with different people, different schools, and different everything. She has to get used to it and change her life to adjust to her new one. Give her some time, she will come around, it isn’t easy changing your life style from one day to the next. Be patient with her, I am sure that she will call or text you soon, if she doesn’t just send her a friendly text or call on how she is doing and why she lost touch with you.

What should I do about one of my friends who I feel isn’t being a true and honest person? They’re not a bad person, it’s just certain things they do that makes me question their character.

Talk to your friend and tell them how you feel, I’m sure they would appreciate you being honest with them, maybe they don’t want to do those bad things, maybe they’re being forced, talk with them and tell them they can count on you. Let them know you’re there for them; make them realize the way they’re behaving isn’t right. Don’t be afraid to speak up to them, and try approaching them carefully, calmly, and patiently in case they get anxious or hostile.

My boyfriend changes a lot, and his attitude is disrespectful and when we broke up he was super sweet. Should I end it or should I see if he comes around?

First of all, a boy should never be disrespectful to you, it shouldn’t be done. When you were together he didn’t treat you right, and when you broke up he decided to treat you nice only for you to fall for his lies so you would get back together with him and so he could keep treating you with disrespect. If he did it once, there is a slight chance he will do it again, don’t go back to him, find someone else, there are plenty of fish in the sea and you don’t want that mean fish.

Street Harassment

Written by Rebecca Jackson

Latinas and women around the world are thinking creatively about ending street harassment. From sharing their experiences online, to writing poetry and taking photographs of their harassers, women and girls are doing their part to put an end to the fear and intimidation.

What is street harassment?

StopStreetHarassment-2Street harassment is just a new name for an age-old experience: women and girls receiving unwanted comments or gestures from strangers (mostly men) in public. In a 2010 study, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control identified street harassment as “harassing the victim in a public place in a way that made the victim feel unsafe.” Unfortunately, street harassment happens to ladies of all ages living all over the world. Gabi Deal-Marquez, 23,  recalls that, “catcalls have been a part of my life, a part of growing up as long as I can remember.” In the United States 33.7% of women will experience street harassment in their lifetime. The percentage is even higher for Latinas, 36.1% of whom will experience street harassment. Internationally, studies have shown that anywhere from 70% to 95.5% of women living outside of the U.S will experience street harassment in their lifetime.

Women Fighting Back

While the statistics are bleak, Latina responses to street harassment provide practical guidance on living with street harassment and inspiration for ending it entirely. “Early on I was taught by my mother to keep my eyes open, know where you’re going, look street smart,” says Deal-Marquez. Jocelyn Cardona, 21, shared her techniques for dealing with street harassment, “I want to feel safe when I am walking. Sometimes I would make a funny face or ask them to mind their own business. . . Now I walk down the street and the expression on my face is hard, cold, and unwelcoming.”

While many women can share their methods for avoiding street harassment, it is important to know that street harassment, and sexual violence of all kinds, is never the fault of the victim and always the fault of the person doing the harassing.

Lauri Valerio, 23, shares that “To me [street harassment] represents a power struggle. It seems that when I am cat called or shouted at on the street, or when someone makes those gross kissing noises, it has nothing to do with how hot or not I am and everything to do with the fact that I look vaguely female from where the harasser is standing.” Street harassment is about men displaying power over women and it is unacceptable. Valerio went on to say that “talking about it, for now, may be my main way to find comfort and solidarity and put up a little fight against it.”

The power of talking about street harassment is the founding principle behind Hollaback! “a non-profit and movement to end street harassment powered by local activists in 64 cities and 22 countries.” Research by Hollaback! shows that responding to street harassment, instead of ignoring it, can help women ward-off feelings of isolation and powerlessness. Writing about your experiences, taking a picture of your harasser on your cell phone, and even giving you harasser a pointed glare can help minimize trauma. The organization provides a forum online for women to share their experiences with street harassment, enjoy international solidarity around the issue, and brainstorm ways to end street harassment for good.

Artist Hannah Price uses her camera to respond to street harassers. Price takes photographs of them after they call to her on the street. Price shared with NPR that, “just turning the photograph on them kind of gives them a feel of what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position — it’s just a different dynamic,” Price says. “But it’s just another way of dealing with the experience, of trying to understand it.”

Overcoming Street Harassment

Whatever their age or location, women are taking inspiring and innovative approaches to making  the street a more welcoming place for all of us. You can be a part of that change! Remember that street harassment is never your fault! If you encounter street harassment don’t be afraid to share your experience with Hollaback! or a trusted adult. Older women especially will likely understand your experience and offer you support.  Walking in public in a group may help you feel less threatened if someone yells at you on the street. If your harasser is someone you know report the incident to a trusted family member or teacher. If someone you know is harassing someone else, challenge their behavior if you feel safe doing so. Ask them if they understand how their actions impact others. Tell them it isn’t funny and make your disapproval clear.

Love Knows No Boundaries

Modernization has pioneered interracial relationships. The 1967 Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia overturned the illegality of mixed race relationships. However, in such a modern world, how does culture influence the dating game?

Vietnamese-American student, Tiffany Vo has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Jesus Urzua since they met in high school for over three years. Urzua identifies as Mexican-American.

Both Vo and Urzua say their relationship is more acceptable to the outside world, considering the United States’ history. “I think society has definitely grown to accept it more and more,” said Vo.  Urzua added, “But not every single person is accepting of it.”

Vo’s family values have affected her relationship. “My parents holding such strong traditional Vietnamese values, they only accept him as a close friend, even though I have made it quite obvious that he is a lot more than that,” said Vo. To this day, Vo says that her family does not consider Urzua her boyfriend.

Urzua said that his family however, is more open to his first interracial relationship despite cultural or racial barriers. “There is definitely a language barrier with her parents and I, and also between my parents and Tiffany,” said Urzua.

Dating, however, is different than marriage. Colombian native, Elizabeth Maker has been married for 12 years to her U.S. born, white husband. Maker and her husband met in Bogota, Colombia.

Two different countries mean compromise. “My religion is Catholicism. When we started our relationship, he was not involved at all in my Catholic Parish,” said Maker. She added that the difficulty of the situation changed as he learned to practice her religion.

Maker’s first and only interracial relationship also results in language barrier. It is a feat overcome by combining each other’s culture into a Colombo-American life.

As diverse as cultures are from one another, couples are capable of learning much from their partner. “I have learned a great deal about partner communication in these past couple of years,” said Vo. Urzua added that his commitment to Vo has taught him a lot about relationships and has given him the pleasure to explore a different culture, while sharing his too.

“[A relationship] changes you point of view of what works in the world and realize each human is equal,” Maker said, “I am happy and lucky to have this cultural marriage… and grow as a human being.”

Relationships may face problems over race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. In any case, there are times where a person has to choose between their traditional family values and partners.

“In my opinion, society sees interracial relationships as normal situations because we are living in a different time with a more open mind,” said Maker, “I had a very private life with my husband when we started our relationship.” For that reason, Maker says she never felt criticized.

Vo says her family is very traditional and claims she chooses her boyfriend over traditional family values. “It’s a real struggle, but it’s worth it.” She says she realizes that in the future, she will have to abide by her parents “guidelines on what guys to date and which career to pursue.”

Who a person dates may be highly influenced by their culture. While some know that they will face cultural barriers, in the most cliché of terms love overcomes anything. For now they are happily committed to a person of a different race.

buy cialis without prescription

cialis price

cialis dosage

Viagra online