Isabel Fields and Grace Westlin in Beverly Hills, CA. Shot by Allie Pohl
How an why did you start FEM Project?
Isabel: I've always been involved in humanitarian issues, but I struggled to find something I could do in my community as a teenager. I realized that the homeless women in my community were struggling to get pads and tampons, something that I take for granted. After hosting a drive for menstrual supplies at our school, it kind of just spiraled and FEM became a reality.
Grace: Having your period is such a complicated and personal right of passage as a woman, and the fact that the government doesn’t provide homeless women with something as essential as menstrual supplies turns having your period from a comforting sign of sisterhood to a shameful monthly ordeal. When Isabel and I learned that there was such a great need for menstrual supplies in our own city, we both bonded over our passion for Women’s Rights and decided that we could de-stigmatize the period, while providing homeless women with the essential menstrual supplies that they deserve.
What does partnership mean to you and how do you make it work when there is a conflict?
Isabel: Partnership is really important to me. Transparency and support are number one. What has helped us is defining our roles so we understand going into every month what each of our responsibilities are. I also think it's understanding that I'm not good at everything while honing in on my strong suits.
Grace: I think that partnership is incredibly important, it makes the load feel so much lighter when you have someone to help guide you through it. Though Isabel and I work pretty smoothly together, it does get bumpy at times. We’ve found that defining each others strengths as well as weaknesses, assigning monthly tasks, and having check-ins more often helps us avoid conflict. Organization is key.
Going through high school in the social media age must be hard! How do you combat FOMO, false representations of reality, and the over all pressure of having a social media presence?
Isabel: Honestly, you really just need to be careful. I don't get FOMO that much unless it's a close friend that didn't invite me to something. While to many social media may seem like a chore, for our generation it is built into our lives; you check social media as you would brush your teeth (sorry for the weird analogy).
Grace: The “high school experience” has definitely been effected by the presence of social media and technology. Its hard to get work done or even have a relaxing night in when you open up Snapchat and immediately see that you are missing out. I think that the best way to combat these feelings is to put the phone AWAY when you’re trying to be productive (weather that be getting work done or taking time for some quality self care). It is important to realize that what people put on any kind of social media is not an accurate representation of their life, you don’t post about the days when your feeling bad about yourself or when your having a bad day. I deleted my personal Instagram because I realized that it didn’t serve me in a positive way.
What does "success" look like?
Isabel: That's such a complicated question because success is so relative. There is professional success, personal success, home and happiness success. I guess for me, I want to build a family one day and be happy in my personal life, have friends etc., and have a thriving career that I love. I want to feel like I've made it. Maybe being an international human rights lawyer and having my own firm, opening a school for women that have been trafficked, or being a CEO/COO of a large non-profit.
Grace: Success is so relative, but to me it means finding contentment and pride in what what you’re doing and what you’ve accomplished.
What has been your favorite required reading book from high school?
Isabel: I don't know about my favorite required book, but my favorite books are The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, As If Women Matter by Gloria Steinem, and Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl Wudunn.
Grace: I loved reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. It is a fun read that is full of so many interesting themes and puts females and their complicated relationships in the forefront without announcing its self as an “in your face” feminist novel.
What do you like most about being a woman?
Isabel: There is this great sense of unity whether it be with menstruation, family, or just anything feminine that I really appreciate. Whether you like the woman or not, there is this instant bond that you have with them. It's pretty great.
Grace: I love being apart of such a complex and united group of people. Women are so special, and its time for us to start becoming self-empowered!
What is an ideal woman to you?
Isabel: An ideal woman is someone that loves themselves. I think that self-love is by far the most important thing. At the end of the day, as long as you have self-love nothing else matters.
Grace: To me, the ideal women believes in herself and is ready to take on the world. It is so easy to get lost in the mixed messages that the media has about women and loose who you are, so I guess I think that the ideal woman is someone who is strong enough to stay true to herself.
Who are you crushing on and why?
Isabel: I'll always be crushing on Gloria Steinem. She has been an idol and role model for me since I can remember. I've learned so much from hear, even just from the authority she speaks from.
Grace: Right now I am totally crushing on Michelle Obama, with all of the sadness surrounding our new president, I think that it is important to look back and appreciate how amazing Michelle is. She has been such an amazing role model for young women everywhere, and her ability to speak passionately has made a name for herself aside from being the President’ wife.
Isabel and Grace's picks: