Mi Familia

Latina Girl Writing - LatinitasLatinitas hosted a blog-a-thon to celebrate Women’s History Month. Here’s what some of our writers had to say about the mujeres in their familia.

“[My mom is the person] I love the most in my life! She’s such an amazing woman; I’ve never seen anyone work harder than her. She’s the founder and director of a Spanish immersion preschool, and when I watch her work there I can’t help but get inspired to work hard as well. It makes me proud to be a Latina who takes part in teaching others about the colorful and amazing Hispanic culture. Working with her at the preschool is what made me realize how much I love working with others, especially children. And because of this I now want to become a child therapist. Gracias, mamá!” – Vanessa Aguirre, 14

“ Looking up into my abuela’s eyes, I saw her passion for cooking and serving her family, and keeping their house nice and tidy. She loves staying at home and performing her duties as a housewife. But, my abuela is apart of the last generation of Hispanic women who are having this role. Hispanic women today are businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, spokeswomen, and so much more. We are evolving to be the biggest and powerful women out there, Latinitas!

I used to think when I was younger, all Hispanic women knew how to do was cook, clean, and take care of the kids and the husband. But not anymore, Latinitas. We have an education now and we’re learning more and more and we will not stop! I am the first person (and female) in my family to go to college- receiving the highest education any of my family has ever gotten. I see how proud I make my family and how much I will be able to help them. But, the greatest thing of all, many young Latinas (like YOU) are receiving a wonderful education!

I am seeing us Hispanic women become stronger than ever. We want to make a difference in this world! We do not need to stick to the same stereotype that everyone believes: all that Latina women know how to do is cook and clean. Of course, we will always love to take care of our familias, but, that doesn’t mean we can’t contribute more to our world and make ourselves better women.

One thing I have learned as a Hispanic woman, Latinitas, is we are capable of doing more than we have ever imagined.  Let us prosperinto the beautiful Latina women that we are! Change is not a bad thing, Latinitas, including the change we are experiencing as Latina women. We have come such a far way, so lets continue to make our familias proud!” – Megan Garcia, 19

“I got my first job during my second year of college. Scared, I really didn’t know what I was getting into working at a call center. No one in my family had previous call center experience and that really intimidated me at first since I was really struggling. But my sister however, has always been an incredibly hard worker, working all the way through college. She worked as a hostess for 4 years and a lot of times had to study on the job. So when I would complain about speaking with someone who was rude or mean to me, I always pictured my sister in the back of my head. She was and continues to be one of my biggest family influences.” – Ingrid Vasquez, 19

 

Makeup Hygiene

Photo credit: college fashion.net

Photo credit: college fashion.net

Most chicas do not know how important it is to keep your makeup brushes and application tools clean. Makeup products tend to store bacteria and might cause you to get pimples when you apply them to your face, yuck!

 Here are some important guidelines to keep your makeup and tools clean and bacteria-free:

1. The way you wash your makeup brushes is by rinsing only the bristles of your brush under hot water. You should be careful not to wet the metal part of your makeup brush because it will cause the bristles to come off.

2. Apply a pea size amount of your favorite shampoo to your hand and spread it to your brush in circular motions. You will see the shampoo changing color because of the makeup residue that was stored on the bristles.

3. Rinse the makeup brushes again with hot water until the water runs out clear. Try to shape the bristles into their original shape and place them on a towel. Place the brushes angled so that the bristles are facing down. This will allow the excess water to drain onto the towel. It is better if you let  the brushes air dry during the night. This way, in the morning when you are getting ready for school you apply your makeup with clean and fresh brushes.

You should wash your makeup brushes at least once a week. By doing this your make up application will look more flawless.

Did you know? Makeup CAN expire. 

An important fact that every chica needs to know is that makeup expires just like food. All beauty items have expiration dates and most products are not labeled with them. Expired makeup might cause your skin to breakout because the ingredients are not in the optimum condition. If you notice a change in texture, color and scent you need to toss the product away.

Here is the list of expiration dates for makeup products:

Foundation and concealer- from 6-8 months

Mascara and liquid liner- about 3 months

Any powder (blush,eye shadow or pigments)- one year

Lipstick or lipgloss- one year to 2 years

Also, remember to replace your makeup sponges constantly so you can rock a makeup without impurities.

Book Review: “Fostered Adult Children Together”

9781475988390_p0_v1_s260x420Written by Alexis Bobadilla

Fostered Adult Children Together, On The Bridge to Healing … Will we ever get over it? tells the stories of over 60 former foster children whom faced several obstacles within the American Foster Home system and came out scarred, broken, yet positive, hopeful and faithful. Aside from the devastating experiences, there were many positive notes in the stories as well. Most of the journeys throughout this book end with the writer being emotionally scarred but with a positive view that they survived.

The main author of the book is a powerful woman named Carol Lucas who was also a former foster child. Lucas is the founder of F.A.C.T., or Fostered Adult Children Together, which she created to help former foster children come together for support, to encourage them, give them strength and help them heal together. Carol Lucas also wrote this book hoping to help other former foster children know that there are other people who have gone through the system, and to let them know that they are not alone.

Many of these stories are very moving, and show the benefits that come from the book and from receiving assistance from her organizatione. One of the stories is from a Hispanic woman named Tianna (Tia) Marie Hartford. She went through so much before the age of 9 years old. From being drowned to being chained in the basement, her story does not get better until the age of 25. The strength that this Latina woman has shown is very admirable. Even after everything she endured during her childhood, she still had enough courage to have children, twins to be exact. For most people the events that have happened to her would have traumatized someone from having their own children. Even though she has her doubts about being a mother, she is still trying to make sure they have a better life than she did. Hartford has a truly inspiring tale that needs to be told.

In another story the writer Terri Rimmer, who is also a former foster child, provided 10 Tips for Former Foster Children that every former foster child should follow.

Terri Rimmer shares the following tips for former foster children: 

Tip #1: Think positively about your future, now is a fresh start.

Tip #2: Find support

Tip #3: Get counseling

Tip #4: Join a church

Tip #5: Keep in contact with siblings and think wisely regarding family contact

Tip #6: Enjoy life without children for awhile

Tip #7: Volunteer

Tip #8: Stay away from drugs

Tip #9: Speak out

Tip #10: Ask for help

These tips should be a guideline for every former foster child who has been pushed through the foster care system. This book is highly recommended to anyone who is either interested in social work, foster care and for any former foster child who wants a support group to overcome their childhood memories.

The Changing Face of the Quinceañera

Photo Credit: Adriana Candelaria

Photo Credit: Adriana Candelaria

For non-Spanish speakers, quinceañera is a mouthful. For young Latina women, a quinceañera is a chance to publicly step into womanhood and reconnect to Latino culture.  For event planners, florist, bakers, and dress makers, quinceañeras translate into booming business.

“For as long as I can remember quinceañeras were something that I was infatuated with,” says 19-year-old Karla Estrada.  “I would dream of the perfect dress, the music, having all eyes on me.”

The growing industry in the United States around the quinceañera, or quince for short, shows the growing influence of the Latino population in the United States. But just like there is not one kind of Latino, there is not just one type of quinceañera.

Quintessential quinces

Popular quinceañera planning websites like quinceanera.com and quincehelp.com provide overviews of what a typical quinceañera ceremony looks like to help young girls and families plan the event.

According to quincehelp.com, the ceremony usually has two parts – the mass and the reception.  The mass is often called the Mass of Thanking and allows the young girl, also called the Quinceañera, to thank her family and demonstrate the role faith will play in her transition into maturity.

The reception takes place in a venue complete with themed decorations and a dance floor.  The reception begins with a grand entrance by the court which includes the Quinceañera, her chambelán or male date, 7 girls, and 7 boys.  The Quinceañera then dances with her father followed by court-performed choreographed dances.

Symbolic traditions that take place at the reception include the lighting of 15 candles, the slipper-high-heel-shoe-exchange, and the presentation of the last doll.  The slipper-shoe exchange and the presentation of the doll mark the end of the Quinceañera’s childhood.

Though these might be the more common quince traditions, as Estrada says “Every household and family is different, we all have our traditions that have been passed down for centuries.”

Tracing roots: quinceañera origins

Important to quinceañera traditions we see today is the history connecting the ceremony across nationalities.

“My sense is that rituals tell a people who they are,” says Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  “Scholars focus on both to historicize the how, the where, and the why of the quinceañera ritual.”

According to a 1997 article by scholar Karen Mary Dávalos, the quince is said to have originated as an indigenous practice, and more specifically, as an Aztec and Mayan tradition.  The ceremony is also said to have been a Spanish tradition passed onto present-day Latin America through colonialism.

Though some scholars place the creation of the quince in pre-colonial Mexico, Guidotti-Hernández, notes that “the coming of age ceremony be it the sweet 16 or the quinceañera for 15 year olds is not restricted to one ethnic group.”  She points out that “Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Central Americans also hold quinceñeras.”

Mapping traditions

Estrada, whose father is from Guatemala and mother is from Colombia, said she changed up a few traditions in her ceremony.

“Guatemalan tradition is that the Quinceañera wears white to show purity and honor,” says Estrada.  “I wore a light lilac color dress.”  Estrada also says that Guatemalan Quinceañeras are “expected to have a mass or church service 6 hours before the party to get approval of the transformation.”  Instead, Estrada had the service during her party.

Estrada also notes that her mother’s quinceañera in Colombia was less a ceremony and more a “small get together with family.”

Not only do traditions change, however slightly, from country to country.  Traditions also change through generation.

Rubi Reed, 14-years-old, said that she is still deciding on whether she will take a trip to celebrate her quinceañera or whether she will hold a typical ceremony.  Likewise, 18-year-old Gissel Ivanna decided not to have a quince because “I realized my stress level was going to increase and so was my mom’s.”

As Dávalos writes in her article, the Latinas she interviewed in the early 1990s were reluctant to rank quinceañera  ceremonies as “more-or-less traditional.” She attributes this discomfort with Latinas acknowledging the financial cost of extravagant quinces and their willingness to accept acceptance diversity in quinceañera ceremonies.

At the crossroads of time and place

“There is something about the U.S. context of the quinceañera that has made it distinct” says Guidotti-Hernández.  “What I am most interested in as a scholar is how the ritual has become more pan-ethnic and more embedded in consumption and excess in the last 30 years.”

Though the quinceañera ritual changes from Spanish-speaking country to Spanish-speaking country, it is perhaps making its biggest transformation in its U.S. context.  The accepted diversity within the centuries-old quince traditions signals an increasingly dynamic and multicultural U.S. Latina and Latino identity.

Retaining Your Cultural Heritage Through College

international_studentsSometimes with the start of a new chapter in one’s life, it’s difficult to hold one’s heritage close. And for some, the fear of losing one’s cultural roots may prevent someone from attending college far away or stepping off to a new adventure. This is why it’s so important to see the value of being a Latina or Latina-American in a different setting from how you grew up.

One of the greatest things about living in the United States is that you’re surrounded by so many cultures and cultural perspectives. And many grow up in a household that celebrates more than one culture and speaks more than one language. Today, there are roughly 53 million Hispanics in the United States, making it the largest ethnic minority in our nation. And for states such as California, Hispanics are the majority.

California native and Yale graduate, Stephanie Cuevas said, “My high school was approximately 90% Latino. Transitioning to college at Yale, where Latinos only made up 10% of the student population, was a bit of a culture shock.”

Many can relate to this situation, and one of the best things to avoid feeling out of place is joining an organization that celebrates Latino culture and taking Latino studies courses. This will not only help with avoiding feeling out of place, but one can find many in the same boat to relate with.

“As a light skinned Mexican-American, my peers often questioned my relationship to my cultural identity and would sometimes label me as “white.” Rather than assimilating, I took courses in Latino studies and maintained involvement in our cultural house, La Casa Cultural. Through these steps, I grew closer to my family’s roots, and further explored what it means to be a Latino in America. We are a rich and diverse group with similar, but different, cultural perspectives,” said Cuevas.

“Don’t let fear stop you from putting yourself out there to meet new people in clubs or organizations. Joining a club organization with a cultural focus will be your home away from home. Most universities have international clubs for culture, comida, or even Hispanic interests! Yes, even in dominantly non-Latino schools! If your school doesn’t have one, you might consider starting your own to unite other Latinos,” said Jasmine Villa, Latinitas Communications and Fundraising Assistant.

Other than joining clubs or organizations, keep speaking and practicing Spanish – whether it’s calling a family member or just reading a book in Spanish. It’s a quality so imperative to have for today’s growing demographic. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has grown rapidly over the past few decades. Today, there are 37.6 million Spanish speakers, making it the most spoken language after English. It’s a quality many don’t see the importance of at a young age, but see the role it plays when getting into professional careers. And it’s also a quality many are envious for not having – so feel empowered!

“Practice your Spanish as often as you can. Speak Spanish, write in Spanish, and read in Spanish,” said Alexandra Landeros, Freelance Writer and Publicist.

And lastly, don’t ever feel out of place. Being with people who make you proud of who you are and ones you can count on lead to a satisfying and fulfilling college experience.

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.

In Search of Female Doctors

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To be a doctor, one must be passionate, dedicated, intelligent, hardworking, and compassionate.

Women are ideal for these positions! Why is it, then, that less than half of all physicians and surgeons are female? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “in 2012, 34.3% of all physicians and surgeons were women.” Even though it is better than older statistics, there is still an unequal amount of female doctors compared to male doctors. Why is that?

Robert Fiorentine from Pennsylvania State University mentions in his work, Men, Women and the Premed Persistence Gap: A Normative Alternatives Approach, that when starting college, the premed programs have an almost equal amount of men and women enrolled.

The University of Illinois in Springfield says, “The ratio between men and women varies between schools, and from year to year, but is usually close to 50/50.” In their research for “Medical Schools in the United States, 2010-2011,” Barbara Barzansky and Sylvia I. Etzel discovered that 48.3% of medical school graduates are women. All the research shows that up until the actual work field, women and men are pretty balanced.

Why are there fewer women practicing medicine than there are men?

Because fathers are not seen as the more nurturing of the two, they are able to continue working and getting their dream job is a frequent explanation of the gap in the field of medicine. They hardly ever have to make a choice between being a father and being a doctor, businessman, lawyer, etc. Women do not have the same good fortune. Since they are the ones carrying the child, they have to take time off of work during their pregnancy and sometimes after, too. If they choose to continue working after having children, they are harshly criticized, but if they choose to not work, they are still criticized.

Career VS Family

Women currently enrolled in a university were asked why they think women put a pause to their career goals or never go through with them. One answer was repeated more than any others: women do not want to be doctors because they do not want to take time away from starting and taking care of a family. Melissa Moya, 21, says, “Women are stereotyped to be caregivers instead of in the workforce.” This stereotype can cause changes in the way women planned their future. Although this idea that doctors cannot have both a family and a career is a popular one, it is not one that is always instilled in all women who dream of being medics.

For example, Emily Orquiz, 14, still holds to her dreams of finding a profession in the medical field, regardless of the stereotypes. “I [want to] help people,” she says. She plans on attending college and then medical school to do just that.

In her article, “Faces of Change, Voices of Inspiration: Celebrating Latina Women in Medicine,” Sethina Edwards highlights Latinas who have proved that women can be doctors and lived a balanced familial life. Sethina Edwards talks about Dr. Sandy Tsao. Dr. Tsao, a Navajo Indian, Hispanic, and Basque woman, did not let anything stand in her way and she attended Harvard Medical School. Since graduating from Harvard, Dr. Tao has had many successes which include, but are not limited to, “a high-profile career and book coming out.” Adding to the list of achievements is her loving family. At the time the article was written, she was expecting a second child.

The second person featured in “Faces of Change, Voices of Inspiration” is Perla del Pino-White, the first one of her Cuban family who was born in the United States. In spite of facing harsh circumstances such as her father tragically dying when Perla was only fourteen, she persevered and followed her dream of becoming a doctor. Although Perla continued to face unfortunate and tragic events, she kept fighting to make her dream come true. She got accepted into medical school. When this article was published, Perla was on her fourth year of medical school, balancing not only the stress of med school, but the birth of her first son. She, too, proved that it was possible to seek a career as a doctor and have a family.

Although statistics show that, for multiple reasons, women are not following through with their dreams of becoming doctors, there are still women out there who are fighting to change those numbers. Today the stigma that women cannot do what men can do is slowly but surely dissolving, allowing women of all backgrounds to, like Emily Orquiz said, “help people” through the profession of medic.

To Your (Mental) Health!

Girls JumpingHave you ever felt really, really bad but worried that if you told someone, they just might not understand? That they might totally miss the point, overreact, or, even worse, not react at all? As teenage girls, we go through a ton of changes in a short period of time. As Latinas in the United States, we face the added pressure of having to navigate and satisfy different cultural expectations and social pressures.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, it is projected that up to 46% of Latina women  in the US have experienced or will experience clinical depression (NAMI). Satisfying varied cultural and gender expectations while constantly feeling “different”  is certainly not easy, and can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed, lost, anxious and sad. Sometimes these feelings are fleeting, lasting only a few days, but sometimes difficult feelings can linger…and linger….and linger.

Unfortunately, there are people who will tell you to just “snap out of it,” as if at the flick of a wrist your emotional clouds will disappear behind happy rainbows and unicorns. Others might tell you to simply “get over it.”  As if.

Time for Help?
It is true that sometimes we just have some good old teenage angst.  And yes, sometimes we do overreact. For example, your crush going on a date with your frenemy is not the end of the world (even though it feels like it). Neither is being grounded for a weekend. But sometimes feelings go beyond regular troubles. Maybe your parents recently divorced or you feel lonely at school. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe you worry about everything so much that you cannot do anything.

Lucia Schmidt, 23, confides “sometimes I get so anxious at school that I just go in circles, paralyzed, feeling worse and worse. I cannot seem to accomplish any amount of productivity. On a good day, I can conquer my anxiety. On a bad day, I fall into an attack of sweats, shortened breath, and loss of emotional control” (known commonly as a panic attack). It is important to recognize at which point emotional stress exceeds healthy levels.

Sometimes we get so low and stressed that we need help coping with our feelings. This is the time to consider talking to a trusted adult. This person can be a parent, a teacher, a school counselor, or perhaps a psychologist. A psychologist is a professional trained to help you work through hard times. A psychologist specializes in mental health care, and your school counselor can probably recommend one to you (and help you find the most affordable—even free—options).

Gabriela Mendoza, 19, is grateful that she was encouraged to seek professional help.  ”It is so comforting to have a knowledgeable, unbiased person to talk to. I feel like I can truly unload my stresses and fears. My therapist helps me untangle my emotions and develop ways to handle emotionally difficult situations.”

It is neither weird nor bad to need and seek help. The hormones of adolescence, stress of school, and social pressures can make times feel pretty tough. You are not alone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. On the contrary, kudos for recognizing that something is getting in the way of you being your absolute most fabulous self!  Asking for help shows not only great maturity, but that you want to live the healthiest, happiest life possible. Cheers!

You Are Never Alone
Feelings can be pretty tricky to talk about. It is normal (though unnecessary) to feel shy when talking about the inner workings of your mind and heart. Don’t beat yourself up if the right words seem hard to find, and never think a particular feeling is weird or bad—if you have felt it, so have millions of others, and you can be sure any psychologist or counselor knows exactly what you are talking about. In fact, amongst your friends and family you are almost guaranteed to find someone who has at some point struggled with a similar feeling. Unfortunately, not everyone acknowledges his or her emotional struggles. Not only is this unhealthy, this contributes to a culture of denial and poor mental health. Be patient with yourself, open up to a trusted person, and afford yourself the emotional care and space you need in order to be your happiest self.

Mental health is perhaps the most overlooked yet most important aspect of our overall wellbeing. You, querida amiga, deserve the best in this world. In order to lead the most fun, fulfilling, and fabulous life possible you need to take great care of your entire self: body, heart, and mind.

The Beauty Pageant Debate

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Many little girls dream of being princesses. Their games often consist of dressing up in their favorite Disney princess dress. For a few this beautiful dream becomes a reality. Since 1952, 63 women have become Miss Universe titleholders and over a third are Latinas.

Pretty gowns and bathing suits, a beauty pageant is much more than these elements. Miss Universe candidates are judged in multiple areas, which include: proper poise, body proportions, body mass index, parade, and interview responses. Many often forget the last element, affirming that beauty pageants degrade women by creating false images of average women. Believing a flawless face, beautiful hair and a toned body are necessary elements to be happy.

True, some beauty pageants are superficial. It appears in many cases that women are chosen based on their looks and figure instead of prizing intellectuality. An example of this case is former Miss Universe 1996, Alicia Machado. She made headlines when she gained too much weight during reign. In January of 1997, Donald Trump publicly humiliated her by forcing her to lose weight and to work out in front of hundreds of reporters and photographers. Had Machado not completed those requirements, she would have lost her crown.

Former Miss California competitor, Shanay Thompson mentions in her blog, “That night I didn’t place, but it did change me. I got obsessed with exercising and counting calories and dropped down to 118-122 pounds. I remember my sister showing a picture of what I looked like and I was disgusted. I looked sick. I knew as a public figure, I didn’t want young girls to follow this pattern and this wasn’t how I wanted to live my life.” Thompson believed she lost the crown due to her weight, but she realized that barely eating and obsessing over workouts was unhealthy.

Enough with the negativity; girls need to be inspired in a good way: eat right, do non-harmful exercises and have a drive for knowledge. Former Miss Universe 1997, Brooke Lee stated in an interview, “Miss Universe opened doors, windows, sunroofs, and chimneys! For a hula dancer / college student from Pearl City, Hawaii, winning completely changed my scope of the world. I traveled the world, met dignitaries, heads of states. I got to see things and go to places I would have never been able to dream of on my own in Hawaii.”

All in all, beauty pageants seem to ask women to match certain external attributes, but they also go beyond just looks. Women learn about different cultures, competition and many other aspects that prepare them for the professional field. Child beauty pageants; however, push young girls away from princess games. No young child should wear excessive make-up, fake lashes, provocative clothing, heels and inject botox. Every girl needs to live each stage of her life at an adequate pace while parents serve as a guide.

Our Warrior, Sor Juana

Thanks to all the feminist movements of the past, today women around privileged countries have an opportunity to pursue their educational goals. One of the first feminists in history, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, fought to have her voice heard. Sor Juana Ines was born in a time when women were voiceless. She was born in San Miguel Nepantla in New Spain, now known as México. She was a nun, a poet and a writer. Her strongest weapons: her knowledge, pen and paper.  They are elements that do not receive as much credit today.

Sorjuana

As a female of the 17th century, she had little access to education. She began to read and write at the age of three in her grandfather’s library. If she married her thirst for education would be threatened; in 1969, she took her vows at the Convent of Santa Paula of the Hieronymite. Little did she know that her education and writing would be silenced.

In a conversation with the Bishop of Puebla, she critiqued a sermon delivered by Portuguese Jesuit Antonio de Vieira. The bishop asked her to put her opinion in writing. In 1691, he published it without her knowledge or consent. Along with this text, the bishop included a letter condemning her intellectualism as a woman. In retaliation, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz wrote “Respuesta a Sor Filotea.”  In this letter, she condemns the Catholic Church for not supporting women’s rights to have an education and explains that education can be used to serve God. This resulted in censorship; she was not allowed to publish her writing and was forced to give her books away.

LaGuardia Community College Professor, Ana Maria Hernández states, “Juana was a woman alone against the might of the church and the might of the ground. She certainly rose to the circumstances, certainly rose to trace a trail for women who came afterwards.”

Sor Juana Ines’ trail was followed in United States by women’s rights activists in the mid- 19th century. Her voice should serve as an inspiration to many. She fought battle for women yet she was the only soldier.

It is sad to say that the battle for women’s equality continues today. According to National Committee on Pay Equity, women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women’s pay checks for the same job are about a quarter less than men’s. How is this fair?

Examiner, Worcester Catholic Women’s Issues writer, Patricia Clark mentions, ”her battle for equality for women in every aspect of life, but especially in education, should serve to inspire young and old women everywhere who occasionally forget, due to the clamor of the superficial values of the culture, that it’s not what adorns the head from without that makes the woman a beauty, but rather that which embellishes and stirs it within.”

If Sor Juana hadn’t fought against the stereotypes in a male dominated society, today women wouldn’t be able to fight for equal pay doing the same jobs as men. Women do much more than men today; they are employees, mothers and wives. The least they deserve is equal pay.

Women in the United States have a louder voice than many others around the globe. We have a right to vote, drive and work unlike countries where only males rule. If women’s voices unite to demand equality, change will come. Soon other nations will follow, such as Pakistan by having Malala Yousafzai as an activist. Great battles have leaders, but they also have soldiers. Women are strong beings, capable of so many wonders. They are equal to men; therefore they deserve the same rights.

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