Meet Natasha Vianna: Co-Founder of #NoTeenShame
Originally Published: May 29, 2015
Revised: June 1, 2015
Natasha Vianna, 26, is an activist and former teen mom. She works for the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy and started the Twitter campaign #NoTeenShame. Natasha wants to change the way people think about teen parents. They are not hopeless people whose lives are over, but rather they are powerful young people whose paths have changed. Natasha’s passion for empowering young people is why we wanted to interview her. It is my pleasure to introduce Natasha Vianna.
“I’m really passionate about reproductive justice. When I was younger, I was often told what I could and couldn’t do to my body or what decisions were and were not OK. Instead of learning that my body belonged to me, I believed that others knew what was best for me. In the end, it meant I was making decisions in the dark. So when I became pregnant at 17, I really felt afraid of what the world would say and do to me.”
Natasha Vianna, activist and former teen mom.
…if we took the time to meet young moms and listen to their stories, the world could see that we are actually resilient, creative and loving young women surviving through obstacles….
“I once thought reproductive justice was just having the right to say yes or no, to have access to affordable birth control or having the knowledge to make the best choices for me. But then I realized that violence, abuse, shame, stigma…every single injustice affects my reproductive health. While I know how hard it is to be a teen parent and dedicate myself to ensuring that young people have the information, support and resources they need to make the best decisions for themselves, I have also been inspired to elevate the reality of what young people face today.”
“Teen moms are so often portrayed as lazy, irresponsible and promiscuous young baby-mamas. We’re often silenced, oppressed and marginalized because of that image and disregarded as valuable women in our communities capable of raising happy and healthy children. But if we took the time to meet young moms and listen to their stories, the world could see that we are actually resilient, creative and loving young women surviving through obstacles and getting past roadblocks. Our own president was raised by a teen mom!”
Burns Her Up
“There are only two things that make me really angry: shaming teen moms and stereotyping our children. As much as I’d love to always be calm and collected when I face a stigmatizing ad or experience, it’s almost impossible to not have a deep, gut-wrenching physical and emotional response to negative ads or distasteful jokes.”
Makes Her Happy
“My daughter makes me really happy. Before she was born, I didn’t really have a passion or feel like I had a purpose. I almost always felt like a burden to everyone around me. When she came into my life, I went through some really hard times, but who she is today makes me so proud of what we have overcome.”
“My friends and I believed a lot of really ridiculous things about sex. For starters, I thought that sex was all about pleasuring a man. It took a long time for me to discover girls can have orgasms, then I was like, ‘Oh crap! What have I been missing out on this whole time?!’ But the worst myth was that if you peed after sex, you could avoid pregnancy. It was really something my friends and I believed was a method of birth control!”
Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr?
“Twitter. I’ve accomplished so much on Twitter and have reaped some serious benefits from having access to a networking site that gives often-silenced people a platform for their powerful voices. I’ve learned so much about things I didn’t know about, and I have been able to make friends and connect with some amazing people through Twitter. In 2013, I was even recruited to do a TEDx talk because of it! And of course, #NoTeenShame wouldn’t be what it is if there wasn’t Twitter.
Prior to Twitter, connecting with national leaders and activists took a lot more work and our voices were often compartmentalized and operated in silos [separate groups]. Now we can address major issues directly and publicly and gather support almost immediately! Most importantly, thanks to Twitter we have the ability to learn from wise people who would normally be inaccessible!”
Visit our Make a Difference page and learn how you can change sex ed in your school and support pregnant and parenting teens.
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