Reproductive Health & Fertility Awareness Was 1st Pioneered By WOC & This Latinx Is Unapologetically Continuing The Legacy & Fight For Womb Liberation
Last year we interviewed a blogger who was focused on conscious living and amplifying the voice of Latina’s in the wellness space. Well Cindy Luquin of Cultura Con Wellness, has took her work to a new level by amplifying her voice, passion, expertise and resources in the reproductive space. This badass is continuously fighting injustices while pushing Latinas and WOC to be more aware of their vaginas and taking control of their fertility.
Check out this interview:
We connected via your passion for sustainable fashion, non-toxic beauty, and overall healthy living while advocating for Latinx & WOC- what made you hyper-focus on reproductive health, fertility awareness and overall vagina wellness?
I started to re-evaluate why I began my platform and advocating for a healthier lifestyle. My ‘why’ was always about reproductive health because of my fertility journey. In 2015, I had a bilateral oophorectomy, which means I had my right ovary surgically removed after being diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized cyst. Luckily it was benign but it was that moment in my life that everything changed. The way I saw food, cosmetics, birth control, sex, my body, politics, exercise, everything changed. My reproductive health became a form of activism. Simply being a woman of color, bilingual, Latina is part of reproductive justice and so that’s when I honed in. I am providing the education, support, and awareness that is lacking. So that other women of color start asking themselves what they would like their reproductive wellness to look like or how it can improve.
Why is reproductive justice more important now more than ever? What is the most astonishing statistic you've come across?
Reproductive Justice is more important now than ever because there are so many changes being made to health care policies that greatly affect the majority of women. Reproductive Justice is an intersectional issue. When we talk about RJ we are also becoming mindful of environmental justice, social justice, immigration rights, human rights, food justice, and the list goes on. It’s important for women of color and the Latinx community to equip themselves with the appropriate tools. With that being said I believe we need to start breaking the cycle that this is only a women issue. It’s a community issue and as a community we must come to a solution to improve the education for the generations after us. My work is heavily involved in bringing awareness to the importance of language accessibility in reproductive and sexual health.
What are the first steps for WOC who want to become more aware of reproductive health?
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that reproductive justice is a term coined by African American WOC in 1994. Activist Loretta Ross, author of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction does an incredible job at laying out the framework in her book. She is a pioneer in this work and were it not for her efforts I would not be where I am at today. I would highly recommend that book be the starting point. It’s important to understand the history of reproductive oppression to then understand where the justice piece comes in. It’s the foundation for this work. Once we have the foundation we can become more aware of what reproductive health looks like for us and how we feel about our bodies in every regard. It is my personal belief that with each generation we can begin to change the narrative a bit more. I like using the analogy that every person has a tool shed and with new tools being added we are better equipped.
What are your thoughts on home births & doulas versus conventional birthing in hospitals?
I think doulas are valuable, effective, and a lost profession. There has been a long standing culture war between doctors and midwives. In the U.S., doulas attend less than 10% of births and there’s a reason why. In mid to late 1800s, the professionalization of medicine became a major trend so male doctors began taking control of childbirth therefore labeling doulas/birthworkers/midwives as unfit to do the job. Most doulas/midwives were women of color. The doula profession was born out of a need to birth babies in the home to women that did not have hospital access. Many of these doulas were indigenous women and enslaved black women helping their own community and making sure they were birthing healthy babies. As history would present doulas were used as scapegoats and blamed for maternal mortality and infant mortality. There is a book I recommend called “Witches, Midwives and Nurses” that elaborates more on the healthcare system and how hospital birthing overtook U.S. culture. We’re seeing a second wave of home birthing today and it would be amazing to see hospitals (conventional) and doulas (holistic) work together to provide the best care and experience possible for birthing.
What do you think is the first step in hospital reform that can help WOC?
I think the first step in health care reform is education. What I mean by that is that in order for there to be any change in hospitals/health care system in the U.S. that women's health needs to be a top priority. I would say it’s #1. We all began inside the womb. Our lives began inside of the women that birthed us. There is so much power in acknowledging that. Imagine if medical school started teaching about cycles being a vital sign of health? Imagine if doctors knew how to support women during different life changes (i.e. puberty, menstruation, tracking your cycle using the fertility awareness method for preventing pregnancy/or conceiving, during pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause)? This would pour into so many other aspects of life. Teaching children how to set healthy boundaries and own their bodies. There is still so much work to be done. As someone in academia, I always go back to education and understand the privilege I have. Therefore, I use that privilege to make sure others can advocate for their health and many of them are my own family members.
What are some of your favorite safe/ non-toxic/ ethical/ sustainable practices for overall daily vagina wellness?
Some of my favorite practices are simply rinsing my vulva with water. I used to use all kinds of heavily fragranced body washes for that area and there is still a narrative that vaginas are dirty because there’s “discharge”. That fluid one experiences has a purpose and is a sign your body is doing exactly what it needs to do. I also use a menstrual cup but before I switched to a cup I was using organic tampons. After my surgery, I no longer wanted to use tampons. I was a regular user of organic tampons but now I use it every once in a while during one day of my period. No one really talks about the possibility of having cotton bits left behind, organic or not. I make sure that the products I use around that area are as organic as possible and don’t contain a cooling feeling. I personally don’t like having a minty feeling vagina. My favorite menstrual cup is Dot Cup because it’s medical grade silicone in the color black, so no having to worry about a stained menstrual cup. I also love that with every dot cup purchased one will be given away to someone in need. I find that the stem to pull down on is much easier to grip when removing. I would also say using vagina-friendly condoms from a brand called Sustain. They make sex positive products that are natural.