Monday, October 6, 2014

Your Invitation to the Sisterhood

Women’s progress is human progress.” –Hillary Clinton

Trending this past month was the word “feminism” and what it means to be “feminist.” We were brought to tears when Emma Watson moved us with her #HeForShe campaign speech at the UN. Clapped out loud when Lena Dunham called out to women to join together instead of being pitted against each other. What is the use of the word “feminism” if we aren’t all standing together for it? Instead we are debating on whether or not a woman is a good enough feminist. Obviously, there still needs to be more dialogue, more conversations, more debates on the issue of women’s rights in the United States, and more importantly around the world. The International Day of the Girl is upon us and in honor of this week, I am going to share with you three impactful documentaries you can watch on Netflix right now.

This is your formal invitation to become part of the sisterhood of solidarity. To become an activist, a leader, a voice, and a sister in efforts to join the movements of the different issues women face today. From female genital mutilation, to forced marriages, to not being allowed to get a driver’s license, for not having the right to receive an education, to constant degrading body images in the media, -- these are all issues women face in the world. And before you think “it’s a different country, it’s their problem,” every single one of these issues happen here in the United States of America.

The first thing you have to keep in mind when watching these very real issues is to not look upon these women with pity but with understanding, and with the solidarity of knowing you are most likely privileged to be reading an article like this right now. I am privileged to write this right now.
  1.  Girl Rising, 2013: This movie is all about giving girls education and with that education allows girls to become achievers and dreamers in their lives. You will follow the stories of nine girls from different parts of the world who face cultural setbacks from arranged marriages, to child slavery, and other injustices. Despite these horrific obstacles, these girls are rising up and breaking barriers to create change.
  2.  Honor Diaries, 2013: This movie features the stories, influences, and inspirations of nine courageous women’s rights activists in Muslim-majority societies. You will learn the hardships of women in Southeast Asia are undergoing on a daily basis. This movie advocates for discussion and the awareness of the issues women face.
  3.  Miss Representation, 2011: This movie explores the under-representation of women in the media. More importantly, of women in power and how their limited and often sexist portrayal is filtered to become a norm in our lives as part of our daily consumption of television, magazines, the internet, and social media.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that by watching these movies, you are becoming apart of these women’s lives, and it should make you see the world differently. Maybe even give you a power inside you to act.
"Apparently, I'm among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, -- unattractive even. Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one?" - Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Favorite News Headline of the Week

By far, my favorite news headline of the week comes from someone I've always admired.
15-year old Bindi Irwin leads the efforts of environmentalism (self-titled Wildlife Warrior) and is taking a new stand for modesty. While this stand for modesty is not a new one, it is certainly most refreshing to hear it from a young girl. Especially when most 15-year olds are vying for the attention of men. Boo-hoo, why do they grow up so fast?

Respect of the body and modesty should be instilled in young girls' and young boys should ought to respect their respect. Wait, what? But you know what I mean, we live in this age where the young grow up too fast and leaves us all wondering what happened. 

“I’m a big advocate for young girls dressing their age,” Irwin said. “I mean, for me, I look around at a lot of young girls that are my age and they’re always trying to dress older. Whether it’s wearing revealing clothes or hardly wearing any clothes at all, I feel really bad for them. It kind of has the opposite effect in some ways ... it kind of does the opposite where it makes you look younger and like you’re trying too hard.”

Special thanks for Huffington Post for this article and making me proud of Bindi once more. What do you think? Think Daddy Irwin is proud of his little Bindi? Gosh, I miss that guy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Revisiting with Lizzie Velasquez: Q & A

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” –William Shakespeare.

Lizzie Velasquez is a twenty five year old fierce motivational speaker, author, and a special inspiration. What makes Lizzie so special? Well, that can be found on the outside and on the inside. On the outside, Lizzie is special because she was born with a rare genetic disorder — so rare it remains undiagnosed. The disorder prevents Lizzie from gaining any body weight at all. On the inside, Lizzie is special because she was also born with this outstanding courage that enables her to combat forces as she grows up. Of course, Lizzie would not admit to this, in fact, she will accredit her courage to her parents’ love and support (Thanks Lizzie’s parents).

When Latinitas last talked to Lizzie she was getting ready to graduate from Texas State University. Since then, Lizzie has released another successful book, appeared on a handful of popular interviews, and hosted a Ted talk – which launched her career as a public speaker to a bigger national status. She is getting recognized by YouTube’s iJustine and actresses, like Kristen Bell and Hilary Duff! Her efforts to end bullying recently extended to a (now) successful Kickstarter campaign called The Lizzie Project. As if she couldn’t be more inspiring, there are many lessons that can be taken away from this young woman’s outstanding courage.

Q: What is The Lizzie Project?
The Lizzie Project is a documentary that will give a very personal look into my life and my own experience with bullying, but also be the vehicle to address online bullying in a way that has never been done before and hopefully inspire a movement for real change and make the online community a more positive place.
Q: What message do you hope people who don’t know your story will receive?
The message I hope people who don’t know my story is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to overcoming obstacles, diversities, and hardships. My hope is that my story of inspiration will open a door to a new and positive path that is waiting for them to discover.
Q: What has been your favorite moment in this past year?
There have been multiple favorite moments of mine over the past year, but I think one that sticks out the most to me is the very first brainstorming meeting we had with my dream team in California for my documentary. Being in a room with four women I greatly admire and look up to all rallying around me and believing in my dream is something I will always cherish.
Q: Anyone you’d like to be interview by or get the chance to meet?
I would cry tears of joy, giggle out of giddiness, and jump around in pure excitement all at the same time if I was able to meet Julia Roberts. My love for her as an actress and empowering woman is something I admire beyond words. In my mind, Jules, as I like to call her, are already besties!

With the recent success of the Kickstarter campaign, Lizzie will begin shooting her documentary in June 2014 and the expected release date will be determined at a later time. Her goals for the rest of the year are to “make the most of every single minute of this new chapter in [her] life and to make it as memorable as [she] possibly can.” One thing is for sure though, Lizzie Velasquez will be a continued hero for many generations to come as The Lizzie Project takes roots in the lives of the people around her.
To read Latinitas’ previous article on Lizzie: click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to De-Stress Your Life

Managing a stressful life can be…well… stressful. Life is notorious for changing winds in the opposite direction and making you fumble trying to change course. 

Fortunately, there IS a silver-lining to managing stress. All it takes is some positive thoughts and a bit of organization and, -- VOILA, you will find yourself feeling better and possibly sleeping better (if stress keeps you up at night).

First of all, let’s break up stress into two categories. One: tasks you need to do. Two: things that are bothering you. 

The first category often has you waking up in cold sweat because you forgot to do pay a bill. The second category leaves you restless because they often are external factors which cause you stress. Keep in mind, because there are external factors, they are out of your control like someone saying negative things about you. When you start sorting what stresses you have, you can then start de-stressing yourself by asking yourself if you can fix it. 

For the first category, ask yourself:
  1. What are the things I need to do?
  2. What are my deadlines?
  3. Which things are more important?

Once you start sorting these things out, you can start de-stressing yourself by accomplishing the most important tasks first and following up the easier tasks. Do this by making a journal or writing in your planner of what you need to accomplish. Make sure you give yourself an appropriate amount of time to accomplish the things on your list. Soon, you should start feeling a less heavy of a weight bearing down on your shoulders because you have it written down and planned on what you need to do. Just don’t forget executing your plans. ;)

Now for the second category, it depends on you and your outlook on life.
When there are external stressors putting weight in your life, it may feel like things are out of control. And in a way, it can be because these external pressures are often out of your control. It is then up to you to look at these pressures and practice three things:
  1. Be more understanding. 
    • Let’s face it, some people will never change. Accept the fact that they won’t. Trying to hold on to an image that you want of someone to be won’t make your life easier. Once you let that image go, you’ll become more understanding of the situation. And don’t try to play the judge & jury, some people are the way they are for their own internal and external reasons that you might not be aware of. 
  2. Practice positive thinking.
    • This is pretty obvious but the best of us do need to remind ourselves to think positively. Try imagining a situation with a different positive outlook over and over again. Ever notice how when your brain is hard-wired to thinking of a negative outlook, negative things come out? Reverse the role, and let positive things come out.
  3. Be grateful. 
    • Our lives, however stressful they may be, may still better than someone else. So the next time you’re complaining about not having a second vehicle or second house, just remember there are people who would gladly take what you have in your life and be grateful to have it. 

Overall, it’s important to remember that stress is all conceived, created, and concluded just by little ole you. You have the power to change the course of wind if you sort out your stresses and give them the conclusion you want. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Aha Moment!

Is it just me or what?

Is it part of our human nature to recognize little bits of ourselves fragmented in the reflection of the eyes of others?
Maybe it's probably why certain characters in movies or books stay with us during the course of our lives. It's in these moments that we see for ourselves our flawed reflection claiming victory or triumph in their life.

We, then, begin to live vicariously through others and it shows how remarkably our lives are interconnected. We join together, with our flaws and flawed attempts to forge onward and claim our very own successful endeavor, -- life.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Food for thought

Don't you just love it when something comes in your path and suddenly everything makes sense again?
Little jewels forged by the gods perhaps... they trickle down to earth and remind you that everything is just fine....

"I need not search for precious gold. Of wealth I have my share.
For with my eyes I scan the sky and find my fortune there.
A host of priceless dreams unfold in songs that bluebirds sing.
The earth, the sea, belong to me. I am richer than a King."
-Spike Jones' intro to Yes! We Have No Bananas 1950

Monday, February 10, 2014

For one special friend...

Sad news today. One of my childhood heroes, Shirley Temple, has passed away.

In honor of her life, I dedicate this post to her. She was, after all, of the first friends I made for myself.
It's funny how someone can impact your life even if they do not know you.
For Shirley, I will always remember her movies. And this one amazing commercial that made me feel like I was never alone.