New York

How an Advocate for Menstrual Equity Spends Her Sundays

As a teenager in Portland, Ore., Nadya Okamoto remembers speaking with homeless women near her local bus stop about a little-discussed subject. “I asked them, ‘What’s a challenge that you are dealing with?’ And it was not having access to period products,” she said. “It consistently came up, and I had never thought of it.”

She did research and discovered a host of problems: the “tampon tax,” school absenteeism, and the fact that food stamps did not cover menstrual products in many states. At age 16 she founded PERIOD, a nonprofit organization working to end “period poverty” and stigma through policy advocacy and by directly distributing menstrual products.

Ms. Okamoto became a highly visible leader, posting candid video diaries on TikTok, where she now has over 4 million followers. She ran for public office in Cambridge, Mass., as a 19-year-old Harvard undergraduate; at 20, she published a book, “Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement.”

All this activity and attention came at a cost. She replaced herself as executive director of PERIOD in early 2020, and a wave of criticism on social media pushed her to breaking point.

“For a couple of years before, I was traveling two to three times a week, and I was really running away from all my trauma,” said Ms. Okamoto, now 25. “And then the Covid situation of being at a standstill made me deal with that,” she said, adding that she had received online death threats.

Raised in Manhattan until she was 9, Ms. Okamoto moved back to the city and completed her degree remotely, and in June 2021 her new company, August, started selling sustainable menstrual products that appeal to Gen Z. “August means majestic dignity, and dignity was a word that kept coming up in our brand brainstorms,” she said. “Also, we are proudly gender- and trans-inclusive, and we really wanted a gender-inclusive name.”

She now strives to make her mental health a priority. Her Sundays in Downtown Brooklyn, where she lives with her boyfriend, Henry Stevenson, 31, and their poodle-Wheaten terrier mix, Mimi, are focused on self-care routines in addition to work.

Sundays typically involve spoiling Mimi, a poodle-Wheaten terrier mix.Credit…Janice Chung for The New York Times

ORDER UP I usually wake up around 9 on weekends. This is new for me because I used to sleep two hours a night and down a Red Bull. Henry and I roll out of bed and go to Konditori on Smith Street with Mimi. I know it’s a Swedish coffeehouse, but Konditori bagels are so delicious. We have our order: I always get the Runner, which is a sesame bagel with avocado and egg and cheese, and Henry will get a toasted sesame with cream cheese. I get an Americano with almond milk and he gets a drip coffee with oat milk.

“My happy place used to be a made-up place, like a hammock on a beach,” Ms. Okamoto said. “And now my happy place is the dog run.”Credit…Janice Chung for The New York Times

HAPPY PLACE From there, we’ll walk to Pier 6, which has a dog run. We just hang out with Mimi until she’s exhausted, and then we walk back. It’s so funny, because I’ve done hypnotherapy and all these different modes of therapy where I’ll have to do guided meditations or reflections on my happy place. And my happy place used to be a made-up place, like a hammock on a beach. And now my happy place is the dog run. It’s sitting with my little coffee on the concrete ledge around all the dog pee, and watching Mimi play with the other dogs.

SWEAT IT OUT I’m very into my hot yoga. I go to Vera Yoga on Atlantic Avenue. They all know me there and they stock August in their bathroom. What I love about it is it’s not like Bikram, where it’s very set. You get to flow on your own, so a lot of it is whatever you want it to be.

“Content is an ‘always on’ thing, and typically, my content performs better on weekends,” Ms. Okamoto said.Credit…Janice Chung for The New York Times

STINGS SO GOOD I’m learning to treat myself on all self-care things, and I’m very dedicated about my facials. I’ll ride my bike to Julie Lindh by the Flatiron and she gives me bee venom facials. The whole thing is bringing blood flow to the surface level of your skin to help with dark spots, acne, things like that. My skin has always been really neglected, and then I started having — especially when I was in the stress of the start-up — a lot of acne and blackheads. I’ve also been doing microneedling with her, where she literally tattoos my face with stem cells and I come back looking like Deadpool. Sometimes I bring Mimi in a little doggy backpack on my bike, and she’ll sit on my lap and watch while I get the facial.

Treating herself to a facial with Julie Lindh (and Mimi).Credit…Janice Chung for The New York Times

FAMILIAR MEAL I eat the same thing every night for dinner. I make scrambled eggs with spinach and some sort of carb, like rice or quinoa, in it, with some mayo and sriracha. And a green smoothie. My friends make fun of me. I definitely don’t cook — I make food.

WORK CATCH-UP After dinner, I’m writing emails or podcasting in my bedroom. My podcast is called “Tigris.” My second book, I think, is also going to be called “Tigris.” I have my full manuscript ready to go, and I’ve been in the pitch process for that. But Sundays are when I’m lining up a lot of content for the week.

Filming a TikTok video featuring August products.Credit…Janice Chung for The New York Times

SUNDAY SKIN SPECIAL I have my whole skin care routine: I wash my face, I have a serum, an essence, two different types of oils and then a moisturizer. And then sometimes I’ll put a mask over it, because it’s Sunday.

Sunday Routine readers can follow Nadya Okamoto on Instagram, TikTok and X at @nadyaokamoto.

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