Nadya Okamoto started a nonprofit, got into Harvard, ran for public office, and wrote a book — and she’s barely 21 years old. “I never feel like I am doing enough,” Okamoto tells InStyle. “Every night when I go to sleep, I always feel like I can be doing more to reconcile the privilege I have in this world and doing more to fight for equity.”
Yet, when Okamoto describes her teen years, the word “privilege” doesn’t spring to mind. In high school her family didn’t have a permanent home of their own, and it took Okamoto two hours to get to school. During her commute she had to change buses, and this is where she met women living in homeless shelters in the area. She started talking to some of them and discovered that in addition to the obvious — not being able to afford food, health care, or a place to live — they also couldn’t afford sanitary products for their periods. As a result they had to use toilet paper, cotton balls, socks, paper grocery bags, or even cardboard in lieu of pads and tampons. Resorting to these unsanitary methods carries all kinds of health risks, says Okamoto, “anything ranging from skin irritation to something more serious like toxic shock syndrome.”
I feel shame for all I haven’t done….