One Blogger Is Pushing Latina Representation In The Sustainable Living & Green Beauty Space
A few weeks ago we spotted an Instagram page that seemed to be focused on Latina inclusion in the natural green space. So we caught up with Cindy, the woman behind @greenvanillabean and asked her a few questions:
Tell us a little bit about your background being Latina (Guatemalteca / Salvadoreña) and growing up in Cali.
I am Guatemalan from my mother’s side and Salvadoran from my father’s side. I was born and raised in Southern California. I work full time as a Spanish translator/interpreter by profession.
Why did you turn to living a more conscious lifestyle? And what are some of the ways in which you are living more sustainably?
I turned to living a more conscious lifestyle in April of 2015 when I underwent a laparoscopic surgery that resulted in the removal in my right ovary due to a cyst. It was scary at the time but in retrospect, a blessing in disguise because it launched me into my passion for sharing about sustainability, wellness, green beauty, ancestral healing and what I call living an intentionally conscious lifestyle. Some ways I try to live more sustainably is by no longer buying sandwich bags and plastic straws. Sandwich bags were a household staple growing up. My husband was actually the first person that informed me about the environmental damage they contribute to the oceans. I also carry a glass water bottle everywhere I go and refill everywhere I can. I try to be more ingredient conscious on a budget when it comes to the products I buy and what I’m putting on my body as well as consuming. Becoming more aware of my consumerism by asking myself before I buy something if this is something I really need or something I want and why. I believe we in this day and age unconsciously consume especially in the United States. It is definitely a privilege for some of us and I’m constantly learning to live within my means. What I have is enough and not defining myself by “things” or people.
How do you define Sustainability?
Sustainability means being aware of the way we impact the planet from a social justice, food justice, environmental, economical stance and how to maintain a realistic balance for the earth’s benefit.
In one of your Instagram posts you say: “The lack of representation of Latina’s in the green beauty space exists and it’s okay to speak up about it” – What exactly do you mean by this? What trends of exclusion/inclusion have you seen in terms of Latina representation in this space over the last few years?
What I meant by that Instagram post was when I started my YouTube channel and blog it was really difficult to see someone that looked like me and that had a realistic budget. I started to feel that in order to fit in I needed to follow formula xyz in order to reach out to others. I was forcing something that wasn’t suited for me and one day it clicked and I realized that most of the sustainable bloggers and Instagrammers that I followed were not people that I could relate to. I wanted to be a bilingual resource for my latino community and help educate them about a conscious lifestyle by not just being another beauty blogger. My husband had a talk with me one day and said something that will stick with me forever, “Just think, there is a half Guatemalan/Salvadoran little girl out there that is searching for someone that she can relate to and feels alone." After that, I decided to take the reigns and stop looking to others for that representation and be that resource for others. Over the last few years, I have seen a slow but steady growth as far as Latina representation in the sustainable living and green beauty space. However, I still feel that inclusion is lacking for people of color in the space. For example, the green beauty industry lacks color ranges that go beyond “medium” and education about the formulating the correct undertones for all colors. On top of that the ridiculous prices these eco brands have automatically excludes the majority of us that are making a living day to day.
Why do you feel that Latina (or Women of Color) visibility in conscious beauty important?
I feel that Latina and women of color visibility in conscious beauty is important because it is a necessary. Providing access to healthier alternatives and less toxic cosmetics should not be seen as a luxury or for those that fall into a certain economic bracket. There are many carcinogens in beauty products that women of color are still not aware of. It is just one factor that helps us be in tune with mind, body and spirit. It is not about achieving perfectionism but more so being intentionally conscious. If there was more Latinas/women of color visibility then it could help educate future generations not to mention seeing women with real bodies is important and not fitness gurus that can afford to spend their entire day at the gym.
Since the start of your journey, are you seeing in progress?
Since the start of my journey, I have seen progress in some aspects, yet, in others still have leaps to make. I have seen many more Latina bloggers that are moms and trying to educate/raise their children in a more conscious lifestyle and I love seeing that. Myself and another POC green beauty blogger @eco.glow on IG are moderators for a private FB group called Green Beauty POC. We wanted to create a safe space for POC interested in green beauty to find brands that cater to them and have safe inclusive discussions. If we look back at our history and Latino indigenous roots we will see that holistic and conscious living has always been in our blood. Our ancestors respected the earth once and holistic remedies were part of daily living. Over the centuries, we have detached from what we once knew.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
My greatest achievement thus far is having the opportunity to start a Master’s program this August in Latin American Studies. Like so many latinos I am a result of teen pregnancy and coming from an immigrant family, it’s a big deal. Another achievement I can say is reaching this place of knowing who I am and learning to love who that is today. After the ovarian surgery in 2015 then back surgery in 2016, I had a difficult time accepting my present day self. It forced me to stop looking back at the 20 something version of me and all these “body ideals” that were only holding me back and served no purpose. Transformational healing is not just a woo woo thing, the work I put in really helped me so much. This is why I am so passionate about what I do and encourage other women of color in the conscious lifestyle space.
What is your overall MANTRA in one sentence?
My overall mantra has always been, “Be the change in the world you wish to see”, which is a paraphrase of an original Gandhi quote.