#WomanCentered is an independent project by conceptual artist and community organizer, Natasha Marin. Inspired by Women at the Center, a project created with support from the United Nations Foundation Universal Access Project. This series of interviews seeks to tell the inspiring, interconnected stories of women’s reproductive health, rights, and empowerment.
How has having or not having children affected the overall trajectory of your life?
My mother left high school at 16 and had three children before she turned 20. I always knew I didn’t want to be a teen mother — I wanted to go to college. After that, then I could think about children. But life is funny. I’ve had several serious relationships, even been engaged more than once, but never made it up the aisle — and I realized I didn’t want to have children unless I was married.
My parents divorced just before I started high school, so for the last stretch of my raising I was the daughter of a single mom. My mother’s a tough woman and she instilled us with a lot of good qualities (I hope) but it was hard on her. She worked two jobs and there were times when we barely saw her day-to-day. I didn’t want to go down that road without a partner. If I had married, there are a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have done, including moving very impulsively to Seattle from New York. Children would have complicated my writing career and my working life. I think that now I’m more prepared and able to be a mother than I was at 20, or 30. I was raised to understand that whether a woman has children or not is a choice she gets to make for herself, and I keep making it … I just hope biology and personal finance will unite on my side to keep that possibility open for me.
Do you have advice for other women regarding birth control methods that worked well or didn’t work well for you?
I’ve actually been on the Pill since several years before I became sexually active, and it works like a charm for me. It’s also one of the easier methods to stop and start, so it’s worth considering if you’re comparing methods.
In 2016, openly discussing one’s reproductive choices is still considered taboo, why do you suppose more women aren’t having these conversations?
I think women are having them on a small scale, but not in public or in large forums. We all get together with a friend or two and whisper when we’re having a problem or trying to make a decision. But once the discussion gets bigger, the slut-shamers start to crawl out from beneath the woodwork, and no one enjoys dealing with them.
Where are you on the continuum of self-love? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being Kanye West), how much do you love yourself and how do you reinforce and/or improve this?
Definitely NOT Kanye West! I’d say I’m around a 7. That’s not to say I don’t love myself, but rather that I am always reaching for new goals and striving to improve, so I need to leave a bit of flexibility to grow.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self some vital information or critical education about your body, your overall wellness, or your reproductive health, what would your advice be?
DON’T SIT AT A DESK FOR TOO LONG. One thing I would do is change jobs more often and spend less time sitting in general. It’s just bad for you overall.
I’d also tell myself to be less timid about asserting control and dominion over my own body. When I was younger, I frequently put pleasing others ahead of pleasing myself, sometimes to my own detriment. No one will ever take better care of you than you.