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Trigger warning: this article discusses campus rape and sexual assault.

The beginning of a new school year often brings such excitement and anticipation. There’s the wonder of the unknown: new friends, new adventures and new opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom. But what happens when the place you think is safe to learn and expand becomes hostile and triggering?

That what happens to thousands of young women each year who are survivors of campus rape. One out of four women will be sexually assaulted during their college years and 90% of perpetrators are repeat offenders. However, colleges and universities have been turning a blind eye, ignoring survivors, stigmatizing them, blaming them and/or keeping them silent. It is not a new issue but one that is finally getting attention thanks to activists like our Fierce Woman of the month, Wagatwe Wanjuki.

Wagatwe Wanjuki is a feminist writer and social media activist who has been using her voice and online presence to speak out against campus rape and the despicable ways that colleges and universities handle these cases. As a survivor herself, she is outspoken in her advocacy and bravely shares her own experience to inspire others to speak their own truths and join the movement to end rape culture and the blame game that rape and sexual assault survivors often face. Wagatwe has spoken in Washington, D.C. working with the White House to take up this issue more seriously, is a sought after speaker at campuses around the country, and has been keeping this cause in the media through her writing and press interviews. We interviewed her about her powerful work educates and inspires survivors around the world.

1) At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?

I am really lucky because I can say without hesitation that my life is full of Fierce Women. When I read your question I immediately thought of the fellow survivors and activists I’ve met over the past few years who have become some of my best friends and fiercest advocates. I am surrounded by individuals who have used their own experiences and knowledge to become activists for safer campuses, and thus a safer world. I am inspired by their commitment to fight rape culture through so many ways – whether it’s from influencing national legislation or telling a survivor what happened to them is not their fault.

2) You have become a fierce activist and spokesperson about sexual assault prevention and rape culture, especially online. How did you get involved in this work?

It all started after I turned to Tufts University to help me in the aftermath of an abusive relationship. They refused to do anything to help me. After I got over the initial shame and hurt of being denied any mode of justice through the school, I connected with another survivor who also had a bad experience with the administration after reporting her own rape. She found and brought the organization SAFER to campus, who trained us on student organizing and what a good sexual assault policy is. A year later I joined their board of directors to work on this issue at a national scale. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of ways – most recently with Know Your IX to advocate for safer campuses.

Wagatwe Wanjuki speaking

Wagatwe speaking at a university about campus rape and online advocacy.

3) What is the Know Your IX campaign? How can people participate?

Know Your IX is an education campaign designed to educate students and their loved ones about their rights under Title IX in relation to sexual violence. It also provides resources to student organizers and survivors about different issues that often arise when organizing for social change, such as working with media, looking for an attorney, or dealing with racism on campus. To get involved, people should check out the website. There are a variety of ways to get involved. Most recently, KYIX launched a campus action network for students organizing about sexual violence on their campuses.

4) You were a blogger before “blogs” existed! How has the Internet shaped your life and specifically your activism?  

Yes! It is no exaggeration that my life would not be anything close to what it is today without the internet. When I was younger I was really shy and had parents who were strict and did not let me socialize with classmates as much as I’d like. The internet was the place where I found my voice. I felt free to say what I thought and – maybe just as importantly – I felt like I had the freedom to connect with other people that were understanding and caring. I found a great support system through the internet. While I may not have met most of the people I’ve befriended in the early years of my online writing, they have definitely had a significant impact on shaping who I am today.

5) What is the one thing you most want people to know about rape culture and campus sexual assault?

One of the reasons why I advocate for colleges to better handle sexual assault is that academic institutions claim to hold their students to a certain “code of conduct.” If cheating on a test is a violation of that code, sexual assault should be one as well. College is an important time in one’s life. We have to teach young people (and older, “non-traditional” students!) that violating another person’s body is wrong and is unacceptable – on campus or off.

incontinenceMany of us may be embarrassed to talk about it but it’s happened to almost all of us; whether it’s caused by uncontrollable laughter or aging, it’s more common than you may think – Urinal Incontinence (UI), the loss of bladder control.

If you know anything about us at Maxim Hygiene Products, you know we’re happy and ready to take on the discussion of any subject, no matter how uncomfortable, as long as it means we get to help you live a “Soft, Safe and Natural” life. Periods and menstruation may be our “uncomfortable discussion” forte, but after receiving daily calls from some of our most loyal fans in regards to incontinence, we knew we had to take the opportunity to cover it here in detail with you.

So, just how common is it? According to the National Association For Continence, UI affects 200 million people worldwide. And guess what ladies, 75-80% of those sufferers are women, 9-13 million of whom have bothersome, severe, symptoms. Why are we so heavily affected? Our urological systems are taking on more trauma than a man’s with the following associated risk factors:

  • Childbirth
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Menopause
  • Prior pelvic surgeries – hysterectomy
  • Increased weight
  • Neurologic illnesses – multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or stroke
  • Advanced age

Although females may experience UI moreso than men, the condition is equally embarrassing for both sexes. The good news is there are ways to treat incontinence and prevent urinal leakage incidents.

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In addition to discussing some treatment possibilities with your physician, here are a few easy and natural do it yourself exercises to treat incontinence:

  • Bladder retraining – An overactive bladder can have you needing to hit the restroom way more often than you like. With bladder retraining exercises, your bladder will learn over time and through disciplined training to extend the interval between each voiding period.
  • Kegel exercises – strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will not only lower the chances of incontinence leaks, but it could improve your sex life too! Typically known as a recommendation for women, you can check out these different routines for both men and women.
  • Staying hydrated – It may seem contrary to thought, but drinking more water is actually better for your bladder. Not having enough water in your system can lead to constipation and dehydration which can irritate the bladder.
  • Dietary changes – Avoiding certain acidic and caffeinated foods can help with bladder control for some but not all. Here are some foods and drinks to avoid and test – coffee, chocolate, spicy foods, alochol, and artificial sweetners.

These treatments can take up to several weeks to start showing some results, so don’t despair and stick to it before resorting to more invasive treatment options like surgery.

In the meantime and for those who need extra protection for severe cases of incontinence, sanitary or incontinence pads may need to be worn on a daily basis. We hear from people with such needs quite often and although we don’t label any of our Maxim products as incontinence products, there are many women and men who use Maxim sanitary pads for their bladder control sanitary pad needs.

The combination of irritation and incontinence is very common because with age, the lining of the skin thins out and thus becomes more sensitive to certain materials like the synthetics found in conventional pads. Also, synthetics create a heat-damp environment that encourages the growth of bacteria. Maxim is happy to provide a solution with our line of hypoallergenic cotton pads. Cotton is more breathable which helps reduce the risk of irritation and makes the daily use of pads a little bit more comfortable.

We recommend any one of the following products depending on the heaviness of your flow –

classic contour pantly liners organic

Classic Contour Panty Liners for an extra light flow (item #1-2205530-1)

ultra thin winged pads

 

Ultra Thin Winged Pads for a light flow (item #1-230110-1)

classic contour pads

Classic Contour Pads for a heavy flow (item #1-230416-1)

maternity padsMaternity Pads for an extra heavy flow (item#1-230610-1)

We hope this post provides you some comfort regarding this all too often shamed condition. We understand what you’re going through and are happy to be of service.

 

 

 

vivienne harr

Photo courtesy of http://www.makeastand.com

Ok, so she might not technically be a woman just yet, but as her below mission statement so clearly inspires, age never has to be a factor in the face of making great change, and neither will it be in our crowning of Vivienne Harr as this month’s Fierce Woman of the Month!

You don’t have to be big or powerful to change the world. You can be just like me.

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Kristine Fine Art Photography

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Kristine Fine Art Photography

The relentless spirit of this savvy little lady, entrepreneur, activist, and philanthropist, has generated great action and life changing results. All it took was one image; two young boys weighed down by stones almost the size of their full bodies and tied to their heads while on the enslaved journey of making a delivery through the Himalayas

We’ve all been there, exposed to heart-wrenching images of poverty or suffering way too difficult for many of us to even comprehend and too daunting of a thought for most of us to take action. Children on the other hand have an ability to tap in to an innocence unfettered by self doubt and thus sensitive and proactive about fulfilling their wildest dreams.

Compassion is not compassion without action.

At the age of 8, Viviene turned a standard summertime kid activity of creating a lemonade stand, in to an ongoing, world-changing, and awe inspiring mission to end slavery! After reaching her $100,000.00 fundraising goal on the 173rd consecutive day of maintaining her stand, one day of which was spent selling her tasty “Lemonaid” in Times Square, she proclaimed she wasn’t going to stop until child slavery becomes obsolete.

Two years later and she’s still at it with unbelievable advances in completing her mission – new mobile technology that helps raise money for your favorite cause, a documentary featuring her story, a b-corp company bottling her tasty lemonaid and a published children’s book about how big things have small beginnings!

I’m going to help the world be a better place.

Photo courtesy of www.makeastand.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.makeastand.com

That was Vivienne’s first ever tweet. With approximately 18 million enslaved children around the world, Vivienne certainly has her work cut out for her, but by staying focused on the positive, she has obviously kept her word and shows no signs of slowing down. Her organization gives 5% of all gross revenues to hand selected groups that do leading work in eradicating slavery.

It’s hard to believe that slavery still exists in this day and age. Although so called “modern day slavery” looks slightly different, it is no better and is defined by the International Labor Organization as “victims of forced labour globally, trapped in jobs in which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave.”

If our feature story hasn’t fully captured for you yet this Fierce Woman’s spirit, maybe her direct poignant responses to our exclusive interview below will.

At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman (or Fierce Little Lady) and why?

I am the fierce woman in my life. I know I can change the world. because I’m already doing it. To believe it you have to do it.

You’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Times Square, presenting a TedX talk and ringing the bell at the Twitter IPL, opportunities so many people only dream of. Which of these or any other experiences you’ve had in sharing your great mission, was the most impactful and meaningful for you?

The most fun and impactful and meaningful. Hmmm… let me think about that. Well, I really liked going to Orlando and getting the key to the city and going to Disney World. But the most meaningful was when I went to Dallas and I met former enslaved girls, and I made them smile. It had a big impact on me and on them too. It was really amazing!!

You’ve truly fulfilled the figurative and literal intention of the famous expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” As a pre-teen, you must be experiencing some seemingly “sour” and challenging changes that accompany this growth period. Is there a particular common difficult pre-teen experience that you’ve been going through and can share about? In particular, how have you applied the same “lemons to lemonaid” philosophy that made your business so successful, to this tough pre-teen experience?

Sorry I just became a preteen because I’m only 10. so I haven’t quite gotten to many changes yet. Sometimes friendships can be hard. I find the best thing is to stay positive and try not to take things personally.

 What do you like to do for fun when you’re embettering the world through your work at Make a Stand?

I like building tree forts with my friends. I like playing with my brother Turner who’s four. I like playing dolls. I like playing with my favorite toys. But most of all I love to just be out in nature climbing a tree!

Where and what do you see yourself doing in ten years from now?

After I have ended child slavery I want to set up an animal sanctuary for animals that were in slavery and circuses and everything. I am very passionate about the treatment of animals.

Vivienne spent the past few weeks meeting with companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter, yet still found the time to share the above perspective with us (that’s one summer camp agenda any parent would die for).

We are so inspired by her story that throughout the next week 10% of all Maxim product purchases made by clicking here and entering the following coupon code at checkout, will be donated to Vivienne’s non-profit: ENDSLAVERY You’ll also get an exclusive 10% discount off your total order.

You can also click here to donate directly to the Make a Stand Foundation.

Summer is sadly winding down, but that doesn’t mean your bathing suit ready inspired health routine has to, especially when it comes to the season’s last few celebrations. Decorate your Labor Day party tables with natural and healthy refreshing coolers that will not only taste and feel great, but also leave your tables looking oh so cool!

We searched our fellow health moguls recommendations and found these five delectable delights that will leave your taste buds sizzling, body parts cheering and eyeballs popping!

Melon Mule

Replace that alcoholic Moscow Mule with what we’re calling a “Melon Mule!” Who needs the extra 320 calories to cool off when you can use this creative Melon Ball Ice Cube twist to make a low caloric and healthy alternative with your favorite mix of melons. Not only are you replacing calories with this healthy drink, but your using colorful balls of fruit to brighten up and cool your drinks instead of boring colored ice!

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Blackberry Honey Spritzer

Replace your soda options with this naturally sweet cup of fizz made with all natural ingredients. If you’re like me, then there’s something inexplicable about the pleasure soda bubbles provide when they take over the mouth. Refrain from spoiling that pleasure with the nasty sugars and chemicals found in soda and replace it with this natural seltzer water and fruit recipe instead by Wonky Wonderful.

Blackberry-Honey-Spritzer-3

Coconut Pear Smoothie

Everyone seems to be not only on a smoothie craze these days but also an insatiable love for coconut! Why not combine the two trends to make this refreshing Coconut Pear Smoothie by Womenio. Fill your guests up with this rich combo of healthy ingredients that will act as a meal replacement for many, so you’ll have to worry less about what other dishes to prepare! Oh, and the nutrients found in this coconut concoction provide skin fortifying powers that we all could use after a few summer months of sun exposure.

coconut-pear-smoothieWatermelon Cooler

So even though the original creators of this genius Watermelon Keg had it in mind as an alcohol dispenser, we’re gonna suggest pouring this cool natural watermelon drink recipe instead.

Watermelon-Keg The Detox Delight

In addition to drinking, we’re sure your end of the season summer parties will involve a lot of eating. We hate to say it, but more likely than not, there will be a lot of unhealthy eating like that hot dog you tried to go all summer without or the seven layer dip you couldn’t resist dipping your gluten free nacho chip in to. Have no fear, what we’re calling the Detox Delight will help ease the digestive woes and worries that come with eating such hard to digest foods. The natural digestive health benefits found in this lemon, ginger and mint infused drink by A Splash of Vanilla will hopefully leave you feeling cleansed and ready to go back to work after labor day.

lemon-ginger-mint-drink-550x394This post has got us pretty thirsty. We’re gonna go whip up one of these guilt free splendors. Let us know which you try too! Cheers!

Children are climbing in that net structure! Photo of the Boston Children's Museum  via vanderweil.com/

Children are climbing in that net structure! Photo of the Boston Children’s Museum via vanderweil.com/

The summer is flying by but there are still a few more weeks or days (for some) left before the school year starts.  As Fierce Women and Green Queens, we believe education is the best method to changing the world for the better and that there’s always a way to have fun while doing it! Museums are the perfect example of this philosophy and will provide a great way to keep your kids entertained this summer.

One of my favorite memories from childhood was our 8th grade trip to Boston. Besides being super psyched to get away from school for a day, what I remember most is having so much fun at the Children’s Museum. Even though we thought we were so grown up, we ran through that place playing, listening, touching and learning. The Boston Children’s Museum is still one the most popular in the country, and one of the few green museums (though the list is growing!). It is also the second oldest, founded in 1913 by the Science Teachers’ Bureau. Take a visit there this summer and check out the newly-opened amazing NASA and Smithsonian exhibit, “Our Sky,” where you can create a human sundial, touch the moon and explore the constellations. There’s also “The Green Trail,” a 6,000 foot exhibit which teaches children about recycling, lighting conservation, and being green in their daily lives.

Children's Museum Indianapolis (via planetterry.wordpress.com)

Children’s Museum Indianapolis (via planetterry.wordpress.com)

Indianapolis boasts the #1 must-see children’s museum according to Forbes and Parenting. The Children’s Museum Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world. Built in 1925, it now gets over a million visitors a year and sits on 29 acres of land so bring your sneakers and strollers! Some of the highlights are the “Dinoscope Paleo Prep Lab” where paleontologists work on real fossil bones discovered at dinosaur digs, and “Carousel Dreams and Wishes” featuring a restored carousel from 1917 where you can go for a ride. The museum, in collaboration with National Geographic, holds the permanent exhibit “Treasures of the Earth” which is the 7,400-square-foot exhibit showing visitors what it’s like to be an archaeologist digging for ancient artifacts in Egypt, China and the Dominican Republic.

Houston Children's Museum (photo via Destination360.com)

Houston Children’s Museum (photo via Destination360.com)

If you’re in the south, or just passing through, make a stop at the Children’s Museum of Houston. It was founded in 1980 so is much newer than some of its counterparts but still has some “wow” factor. One of the best exhibits is “Kidtropolis, USA,” and this is why:

It “mirrors a real city, “complete with its own city hall, municipal building, mercantile center, bank, news center, market, diner, art school, and even a vet clinic. Children can even elect a mayor, run for office and decide what ordinances to pass!”

That seems like a clever and creative way to help kids understand civic engagement and how communities work. There’s also a massive “Ecostation” an indoor/outdoor environmental exhibit with a pond, native plant garden, woodland area and research center. Visitors can participate in insect collecting, footprint identification, leaf rubbings and something called “nature journals” that my inner child got excited about. It’s also almost entirely powered by solar energy with a special exhibit dedicated to solar power.

There are over 200 children’s museums in the United States so you don’t have to travel far to visit one. Click here for a list and enjoy some learning and laughter with the young folks in your life.

Single - No Toxin (II)

Maxim street campaign at Washington Square Park, NYC.

 

Five summers ago Maxim Hygiene Products had it’s first ever street campaign. It was a year after we had officially launched our line of Organic and Natural Feminine Hygiene Products and we were yearning to get the word out about all that our unique brand stands for. Our young company of committed #FierceWomen took to the streets of NYC and Brooklyn to raise its voice about periods and the toxic materials found in standard other feminine hygiene products.

Organic Tampon -Group

Like other natural brands, Maxim brand products eliminated the use of chlorine bleaching, the most toxic of the standard manufacturing processes used by conventional brands. Unique to Maxim at the time, was the elimination of synthetic based materials, like rayon, viscose and wood pulp, in it’s sanitary pads, making Maxim the first brand of 100% Organic and Natural Cotton products to launch in the U.S. Synthetic based materials are a large source of irritation for a growing population of women with vaginal skin sensitivities. These materials are also synthesized using limited resources like petroleum. Our most important reason for using 100% Cotton is to the soothe the itchiness and rashes many women experience from using other synthetic based brands. Cotton is also a renewable plat based resource.

Here’s a little #TBT lovin’ of the homemade video we made on the memorable day five years ago when we hit the streets to educate women about the above:

Since then, we have thankfully seen a growing awareness for this very important topic. The seasoned ladies at Naturally Savvy who have been long time advocates of healthy and natural living, ran their first related campaign last year. They are now only 73 votes away from meeting their campaign goal of having 15,000 signatures for a petition they have addressed to the CEO of the largest feminine hygiene manufacturer in the world, asking him to fully disclose all the ingredients used in their tampons and pads.

Women’s Voices for the Earth, another powerful women-run organization targeting the elimination of toxins harming our health and environment, has joined the effort with their own petition and #DetoxTheBox campaign featuring this hysterical spoof video:

Most recently, our own local NY Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, introduced an updated version of The Robin Danielson Act, which would require the National Institutes of Health to research whether menstrual care products that contain dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other chemical additives like chlorine and fragrances, pose a health risk.

From our own grassroots efforts, to the involvement of caring organizations like Naturally Savvy and Women’s Voices of the Earth, and straight up to the powers that be in government, we are proud to be part of a growing movement of fellow #FierceWomen who are willing to take a stand for vaginal health!

Join us in the movement by writing to your local Congressional Representatives and signing the petition for full tampon ingredient disclosure. Also, make sure let us know about any other related ideas or initiatives in support of vaginal health by commenting below!

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If you’re searching for a lush, decadent and vibrant city, look no further than Portland, Oregon. Yes, “Portlandia” where locals will tell you the parody is not that far from the truth.

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Composting at the Doubletree

Last week, I visited Portland for the first time…also my first encounter with the fresh air of the Northwest. The city is incredibly green in multitude of ways, from its bountiful local parks to bike culture. They also have a citywide composting program that’s so thorough that they have composting in hotels!

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“Grande Dame” roses at the International Rose Test Garden

My first stop in the city was Washington Park to visit the International Rose Test Garden. One of Portland’s nicknames is the “City of Roses,” and although there’s no one clear origin to this name, you will notice roses growing plentifully in people’s gardens, rose murals painted on walls and businesses using the word “rose.” I’m a lover of city parks, particularly gardens, so I was in my element. The rose garden is literally breaktaking with rows and rows of roses in vivid pinks, corals, red, yellows, and purples. They also have curious names ranging from “Betty Boop” to “Desmond Tutu”, from “Heart Song” to “Voluptuous”, from “Remember Me” to “Strike It Rich.” It’s easy to spend hours reading the names, breathing in thescents and marveling at the colors. It’s also a great place to read, relax and certainly people watch. Admission is free and there’s restrooms and an adorable gift shop.

IMG_0298

Koi fish at the Japanese Garden

A short walk from the rose garden is the Portland Japanese Garden which formally opened in 1967. In the 5.5 acre park, there are five gardens including the Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Flat Garden, and Sand and Stone Garden. There is a lot of running water meant to symbolize the life-giving force, along with stone (the “bones” of the landscape) and plants (the “tapestry of the four seasons’). Even with the numerous tourists, there is still a feeling of zen and there are many nooks where one can meditate, journal or daydream. One of my favorite parts was the Zig Zag bridge from which you can get up close and personal to the many koi fish swimming towards the Heavenly Falls. Admission is $9.50 and the garden is open daily to visitors.

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Multnomah Falls

Speaking of falls, no nature loving trip to Portland would be complete without a trip to Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot cascade located about 30 minutes outside of town in the Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge area. The photo above shows a view from the bottom and a quick walk will take you to the bridge in the photo for a closer look of the falls. For those who want to see spectacular views and see the origins of the falls, there’s a mile hike up the mountain on a paved trail. It gets chilly because of the altitude and the shade but you will work up a sweat because it is steep! Once you get to the top, there’s incredible views of Mt. Hood and a pond that you can wade in or just dip your toes in. Let it be known that even in July that water is cold! But it’s refreshing and invigorating if you like a little shock to the system and to frolic in nature.

Delicious assortment of aguas frescas at Porque No?

Delicious assortment of aguas frescas at Porque No?

After that hike, there’s so many incredible food options back in Portland! I only got to sample a few but I recommend B Street Coffee House in the southwest section because of their local ingredients and tasty gluten-free waffles. I can safely say I had the best chai ever there, complete with coconut milk. Step your game up Starbucks! I also tried a gluten-free waffle sandwich with egg, spinach, tomato, onion and cheddar. It was an excellent way to start my day and cure my jetlag! Another favorite was Porque No?, a taqueria with two locations and some of the best Mexican food you’ll have in the city. They also use local and hormone-free meats, seafood, produce and dairy, and are committed to sustainability in all facets of their business. They even use rice bran oil which is recycled to fuel their errand vehicle. Good for the earth and your belly!

Gorgeous mural honoring Portland's women history makers.

Gorgeous mural honoring Portland’s women history makers.

There’s so much to see, do and eat in Portland. There are so many city parks including Forest Park, over-the-top desserts at Voodoo Doughnuts and Salt and Straw’s farm-to-cone ice cream shop, bike lanes and bridges (the Tilikum Crossing, Portland’s only pedestrian and bike-only bridge will open soon!), and of course the famous Powell’s Books where you could get lost for a day. There’s also infinite murals and food trucks representing the city’s diverse communities. Portland is a thriving city tailor made for us Green Feminine Hygiene Queens!

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