Y'all, I was lucky enough to meet with Katie Vitale, bad ass producer of Issues for Your Tissues on KOOP Radio. If you are not familiar. this radio show is AMAZING! (Right now, you can catch it on KOOP Austin 91.7 Thursdays at 6pm.) Each week, Katie explores a topic related to women's health and reproductive justice. This is not an easy job in Texas, and Katie does it with passion. High five to you Madame! Her inspiring interview is below, and it is a must read!
Tell me about yourself and what you do:
Since graduating from UT 12 years ago, I’ve worked, advocated, and volunteered for women’s health and reproductive justice. In 2007 my radio show, Issues for Your Tissues, earned its spot on the KOOP Radio schedule. It’s been my not-so-secret joy to bring women’s health topics onto the air and out into the open. I produce, engineer, and host the show weekly, and serve on the board of KOOP Radio. In producing the show one of the many goals is for it to be a nexus for the reproductive justice community here in Austin and beyond. Many women contribute to this justice, and they all deserve a place to be recognized and to recognize each other.
What motivates you to do what you do?
The need for medically-accurate, direct honest talk about women’s health, sexual well-being, and reproductive justice has grown. There are a number of reasons leading to this growth. One contributing factor could be the reduction in comprehensive sex education among young adults in Texas; abstinence-only education leaves more questions than answers for young Texans. Another factor could be the increasing sexualization of pop culture. This isn’t to be necessarily lamented, but it spurs any number of conversations about sex that I can’t imagine having faced 15 years ago. Who ever thought we’d be wondering what “truffle butter” had to do with sex? It could probably be argued that more sexual health knowledge is leading to the rising sexuality in pop culture. Either way we need more medically-accurate information out there.
I love thinking about women listening to the show and then broaching these topics with people they might not have otherwise or delving deeper into these topics with their friends. The conversations we have break down the stigma shrouding these issues. Communication is key to health. Increasing health literacy, or the courage to advocate for your own healthcare, or the gumption to ask your partner for what you need is only possible when we feel empowered and equipped to take on what may feel risky at first. I hope Issues for Your Tissues equips and empowers its listeners to think about and then talk about things outside their comfort zones.
Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:
One time I was out on the town with friends and met some friends of theirs. A woman from the group told me I looked very familiar to her, but I didn’t recognize her. Later in the evening she told me that I had been her counselor when she had her abortion years before. She told me that I had made the experience a positive one for her. That was meaningful for me because my goal in counseling was to give clear, supportive, and accurate information to women the day of their abortion. Normalizing the experience breaks down stigma and shame. She felt good enough about her experience that day to tell me and everyone in the group that night that she had had that abortion and it was positive. In my work there, I never really knew how close I had come to reaching that goal. Was I sex-positive enough? Did I sound at all judgmental? Could I have supported her by sharing the information differently? While all women are unique and I cannot definitively claim that I made all their lives better, knowing that I had done a good job of supporting her and normalizing her abortion made me feel successful. I reflect on this experience when I need to remind myself why I do what I do. I bet each of us have a story that can connect us to our purpose--even if we haven’t identified it yet.
How do you get through periods of self-doubt?
There are plenty of potential sources of self-doubt. Whether it’s something I have no control over or a situation I created for myself, some scheduled, regular self-care keeps me functional. This can be but is not limited to a massage once in a while. Whether taking time to read some fiction or a magazine, a weekend nap, a day without my cell phone, a long dinner with a friend, self-care isn’t relegated to the spa. All these activities that sustain us, but are not directly supporting our purpose are good self-care. Go to that movie, spend time on your playlist, or whatever it is to make your life richer [here’s the crucial part] without feeling guilty for it.
It’s really easy for me to look at my to-do list and become overwhelmed, doubtful of my capacity to do everything I tell myself I want to do. The most helpful thing for me to do, and it’s hard because you can get trapped in perfection paralysis, is to employ a little awareness, broaden my perspective, and remind myself of all of the things I have completed, accomplished, or checked off of that same list at another point in time. It’s not always the best motivator, but it really squashes the self-doubt. We’ve all done something that took tons of time and every one of our skills. Remember that thing. You did that.
What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?
Too many times I’ve seen people get so down on themselves, berate themselves in ways they would never berate another living person. Let’s treat ourselves as we would treat our friends, speak to ourselves as we would to our besties. We cannot rely or wait for the validation from others to accept ourselves or expect anyone else to give us that which we won’t give ourselves.
There are so many wonderful truths in this interview. It's hard to narrow them down, but I will pick a few: 1. Pursue your passion even in tough political and social climates, 2. Recognize that your work has an impact on others, 3. Remember that skills gained from past successes can help tame perfectionism, 4. Talk to yourself like you would a best friend. Hell. Yes!
If you want help taming your inner perfectionist and connecting with your inner bad ass, check out my offerings for individual therapy.
- Lauren, HHT