Episode 059: How to Be An Advocate for Women's Health

Episode 059: How to Be An Advocate for Women's Health

As Beautycounter consultants, you often hear us talk about how we also advocate for more health-protective laws, but what does advocating really mean? What does it look like and how does one do it?

In this episode, I'm joined by Tami Hackbarth. Though she's now a Self-Care Coach, twenty years ago, Tami worked in politics and advocated for women's health issues. Drawing from her past professional experience, Tami explains:

  • The legislative process

  • What she worked on daily as a legislative staffer

  • How our voices, letters, text messages, phone calls, and votes DO in fact make a difference

  • How everyday people like you and I can take action TODAY and be advocates too

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Naomi Nakamura: You're listening to the Live FAB Life podcast, Episode 059. Now, all month long, we've been talking about breast cancer prevention with Katie Leadbetter. Today we're closing out this series by talking about what it means to advocate for women's health issues. Joining me to talk about this is Tami Hackbarth. Tami was first on this show way back in Episode 018, talking about 100% Guilt-Free Self-Care. But before Tami became a Self-Care Coach, in fact, before Tami was even a teacher, Tami worked in the world of politics where her job was to be an advocate for women's health issues.

Now, as Beautycounter consultants, you'll often hear us talk about how we also advocate for more health protective laws. But what does advocating really mean? What does it look like and how does one even do it? In this episode, Tami breaks this all down for us from the legislative process to what she specifically did as a legislative staffer, to how our voices, our letters, our phone calls, our text messages, and our votes do, in fact, make a difference, and how everyday people like you and I can take action today and be an advocate too.

Let's get to the show.

Welcome to the Live FAB Life podcast where we have real and honest conversations from a bigger, functional perspective on health and dealing with the pressures of living in a fast-paced world. I know you're busy so I won't take all day. Kick back for a few minutes and get today's on the go tips and practical solutions for everyday health living.

I'm your host Naomi Nakamura, a holistic health coach and safer beauty advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Let's get started.

Hi, Tami, welcome back to the show.

Tami Hackbarth: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Naomi Nakamura: We last had you on last December, talking about 100% Guilt-Free Self-Care, and that was phenomenal. But what listeners may not realize is that we didn't really know each other back then. In the past nine months, we have gotten to know each other pretty well, and what I have learned is that in your prior life of being a self-care coach, you spent quite a bit of time working extensively on women's health issues. I really wanted to bring you on the show because this month with breast cancer awareness month and having Katie Leadbetter on the show as a survivor, and then giving her expertise advice, not just as a survivor, but a nutrition consultant too, Katie and I and you were all a part of this movement for safer beauty that's really rooted and centered in women's health issues.

Part of being Beautycounter consultants, which we all are, is really doing a lot of advocacy work. I will be the first to admit that it wasn't something that was on my radar and it wasn't something that I paid a lot of attention to, and I raised money for different charities, I did the Avon Breast Cancer Walk and I thought I was doing my part. But it wasn't until I started working with Beautycounter two and a half years ago that I really started to pay attention and to understand, and realize that the things that I do every single day makes a difference not just for me but for the greater good.

We hear a lot of things about lobbying for this and we advocate for this, but I didn't really understand what all of those things meant, so I really wanted to lean into your expertise and have you give us some insight on that work. So, why don't you share your background with advocacy work and how you came to do it.

Tami Hackbarth: All right. Well, I will say, it's been a long time since I was a paid professional advocate, but the system itself hasn't changed. Back in college, I was a political science major and as part of my major, we had to go out and actually do field work. I found myself at Planned Parenthood being like a political intern. I worked at, briefly, on the Hill in Congress at the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. I also interned at the California State Capitol in the Speaker's office. After graduation, I worked on a congressional campaign, a U.S. senate campaign, and a state-wide ballot measure in Oregon. After moving home to California in my late 20's, I worked in communications on a lobbyist on various issues, and one of those issues was breast cancer.

Naomi Nakamura: On a day to day basis, what did that work look like? Like, what did you do every single day when you talk about working for the Congressional Caucus of Women's Issues and you worked for the California State Assembly? Like, on a day to day basis, what did that work look like?

Tami Hackbarth: Well, good question. Specifically when I was working on women's issues in Congress, my day-to-day work was I read 10 newspapers and clipped them all, I literally took scissors and like cut articles out 'cause it was so long ago, the internet hadn't really been invented yet, and I put them in a folder. It was anything having to do with women and topics that had anything to do with women, so it could economic stuff, it could be health stuff, it could be domestic violence, it could be anything. Then the rest of my time was spent going to congressional hearings on any issues, again, that had anything to do with women.

I spent a lot of time in hearings, which is where you go and you sit in the audience and the congressional members sit in the dais across the top. Then, lobbyists come and they talk and they talk amongst themselves. If you watch C-SPAN, it's what you see on C-SPAN, but I was -

Naomi Nakamura: That's what I was just going to ask. I was like, oh was it-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: Is that what we see on TV?

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah. It's live C-SPAN. Then I would take all the information from the hearing, go back to the office, and write up a synopsis of what the bill did, who supported it, who was opposed to it, what the opposition was having a problem with, what the supporters were ... the points they were trying to make, and then summarize all of that and send this newsletter, like an actual, physical newsletter in the mail, to all of our 5,000 subscribers across the United States. Then every member of Congress got one.

Then when I worked in the Speaker's office, I answered constituent mail and the Speaker I worked under represented San Francisco, but because the Speaker of the House is like the head of everyone, he basically represented in a lot of ways the state of California. So anytime anyone writes a letter to their representative, some young, fresh-faced kid in college gets that letter and they go, "What am I supposed to do with this?" I was the person that was writing those and sending those back to constituents and trying to be the person that's like the first person to try to help solve a problem for constituent.

Naomi Nakamura: So, a lot of what you did educated not only the people in office upwards-

Tami Hackbarth: Yes.

Naomi Nakamura: But also outwards to constituents?

Tami Hackbarth: Yes. In my early days, it was mostly me collecting information and directing it out to the public. As my career grew, I got to be an influencer table and representing clients and being part of the conversation. The first one was more of a reporting and the latter was more of an influencing.

Naomi Nakamura: Then, moving a little bit further, as you're sitting in the Chamber and C-SPAN in person, what exactly does a lobbyist do, especially a lobbyist for breast cancer?

Tami Hackbarth: Well, a lot happens before you even get into the Chamber. Every representative at every level of government has a field office, meaning they have an office where they represent, and they also have an office at the State Capitol or in the National Capitol. As an advocate, you spend a lot of time working with staff members to say, "Hey, this is where we are concerned about this issue," you do a lot of education, you do a lot of sitting and talking and answering questions about the topic area. Sometimes if you ... depends on where you are in the process, sometimes you have an idea that you want to become a law, so you try to find a congressional person or a legislative person, a representative to carry your bill, so they become the author of the bill. Then they spend time trying to get their bugs in their respective houses-

Naomi Nakamura: Is that also like a sponsor of the bill?

Tami Hackbarth: A sponsor of the bill.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay. Got it.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah, yeah. You spend a lot of time with staff going back and forth, educating, you educate the members of the caucuses, different caucuses. It's all about coalition building around your issues. Then you also spend time meeting with the opposition, so people who are like, "Your bill sucks. I hate it." You meet with them and you're like, "What could possibly be wrong with this?" Then they tell you. The idea is that you want to meet, in the ideal world, you want to meet somewhere in the middle.

It was funny, this is part of the reason that drove me out of politics. I was like, "But I don't want to meet in the middle." I don't think there's any middle ground on women's health. I would like us to take care of women legislatively, so I don't know why there's opposition.

Naomi Nakamura: Just to put things into context, this was, I'm not dating you, I'm just guessing.

Tami Hackbarth: You can date me if you want.

Naomi Nakamura: Probably, I'm guessing, in the late '90s?

Tami Hackbarth: Yes, yes.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay. These issues were already ...

Tami Hackbarth: Percolating?

Naomi Nakamura: Percolating, that's a great word. I'm like what word can I use here? Back then.

Tami Hackbarth: Yes.

Naomi Nakamura: I guess what I'm trying to ask is were they a lot different than what it is now? Because I feel like, I said this, I really wasn't into or aware of a lot of these things, but as I became more involved in a movement like Beautycounter, which I have shared many times as to why I did that because it was a solution that I was looking for, for myself to an issue that I wasn't aware of up until three years ago. It's fascinating to me that a lot of these things were already being discussed at and there was concern about, but yet it took that long to come to my attention.

I guess I'm just trying to understand what were the big concerns back then?

Tami Hackbarth: Well, in the late '90s, when I was working on this, one of the things our client was bringing up like, hey, because the conventional thinking at that point was that cancer was hereditary, like if your mom had it, your sister had it, your grandma had it, like you're next in line. In some cases, if you have that particular gene, I guess that's still true. But there were pockets of breast cancer in the United States where people had no history, they had no family history, but there were like huge amounts of women who were getting breast cancer and sometimes-

Naomi Nakamura: You mean pockets, mean geographic pockets?

Tami Hackbarth: Geographic pockets-

Naomi Nakamura: Okay.

Tami Hackbarth: Where some people were getting breast cancer more than once, it was like aggressive and it was like in a high income area, and so people were doing all the 'right things'. They were eating, they were exercising, they were managing their stress, and this was-

Naomi Nakamura: No family history?

Tami Hackbarth: No family history, and these women were dying young and a lot of them, that was it. They would die eventually. There was a lot of women who were receiving the best care ever where it was available, and yet there was still this thing. There started to be these rumblings of, "Hey, maybe there's something we need to look at. Hey, state of California, can we look at it?" Like 20 years ago, that's where we were in this was like, hey, there's some rumblings around, let's look at this together.

Naomi Nakamura: We should probably pay attention to these things.

Tami Hackbarth: We should pay attention to this. Maybe if we study it, we'll find out absolutely not, that's not ... that has nothing to do with it, or maybe we will find out something else, but this deserves to be looked at.

Naomi Nakamura: How did the possible environmental causes like even come to the table to a lobbyist table?

Tami Hackbarth: Well, my recollection is that a breast cancer organization knocked on our door and we were like, "Yeah. Let's work on this 'cause this is crazy talk."

Naomi Nakamura: What was the goal back then?

Tami Hackbarth: The goal back then was to get the legislature talking about it and to study it.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: So, we're almost seeing the fruits of your work from back then?

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah. And I only worked on it for a little while, but it made such an impact on me because I was like ... because I don't have a family history of any cancer, let alone breast cancer, and I was like ... I had this false sense of security. I don't have cancer, I don't have breast cancer or any ... cancer's not my jam in my biological family, but what I did have is I grew up right across the San Francisco Bay from that giant geographic pocket of these high socio-economic women dying of breast cancer at a giant rate. I was like, "What?"

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: I was in that region and I was like could this be a thing? This idea got ... this seed got planted early in me that A, maybe that is it, and B, there was already beginning to be rumblings of so maybe it's something in the environment. But it's also ... but our environment includes our house and it includes what we put on and in our body.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Tami Hackbarth: I started eating organically almost exclusively during that time.

Naomi Nakamura: Like way before it became trendy?

Tami Hackbarth: Like in 2000.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Tami Hackbarth: Like I've been spending tons of money on food ... and people have been making fun of me but I was like, "Well, you know, the worst thing that can happen is I pissed away a bunch of money. Ha ha, joke may be on me." I don't know but my organic, close to home grown food tastes really good, if nothing else. I started looking at my personal products and the products I used to care for my home. It planted a seed.

Naomi Nakamura: When we talk about let's advocate for women's health, what exactly does that mean? We all can't be lobbyists and we all don't work in politics, but as an average citizen, what does that mean? What can that look like?

Tami Hackbarth: Okay. Whole organizations, their whole jam, their whole job, their whole mission in life is that exact thing. It's a huge job, and so, one of the ways that I have been able to continue to do my activism is I watch the work of organizations to see what they're working on. You're like, "What work are you talking about?" Like AB-2775 in the California legislature, the Safer Beauty Bill that was brought forth by the Beautycounter coalition. Like here's the thing, Beautycounter's not working alone, they're working with a coalition of other groups to work on legislation. As like a lay person, it would be a really tall order to be like, "I think I'll find out what bills are available."

Naomi Nakamura: Well, that's just it, right? It's like when you ... I mean, even when you get your little voter guide, you're sitting there figuring out like, okay, if I vote 'yes' am I voting for it or am I voting against it?

Tami Hackbarth: Right, right. Well, and here's the thing, so AB-2775, that means Assembly Bill 2775 for that session.

Naomi Nakamura: Wait, wait, wait. Say that again.

Tami Hackbarth: That means there 2,000 other bills.

Naomi Nakamura: I didn't know there was a meaning to this.

Tami Hackbarth: Yes.

Naomi Nakamura: Oh, okay. So, it's-

Tami Hackbarth: They're numbered.

Naomi Nakamura: They're numbered for this-

Tami Hackbarth: They're numbered.

Naomi Nakamura: Particular year-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah. I think they're in sequential order.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay.

Tami Hackbarth: I mean, there's a lot of bills. Here's the thing, a bill can start out as one thing and you can be like, "This is the best thing ever." Then you take it through the whole process, and it gets changed here and changed here and changed here and changed here and stuck in this committee, and then it dies or it can be changed here or changed here or changed here, it gets changed so much that the sponsor's like, "I don't even like my bill anymore." The thing is is once you are following a piece of legislation, it has a lifespan of at least two years, like over the session. It starts in one house and it goes through at least one committee, probably two, maybe a budget committee, then it goes to the other house-

And it goes through all theirs. Then, it has to come back and they have to match if they're in Congress, so they have ... There's like a long process. What I do is I let organizations whose job it is to follow these things take the lead in that, and I'm like, "Where can I be helpful?"

Naomi Nakamura: So-

Tami Hackbarth: And sometimes being helpful is writing a letter to a legislature. Sometimes being helpful is gathering all your neighbors to write letters or make phone calls. Sometimes being helpful is-

Naomi Nakamura: So, that stuff really does make a difference?

Tami Hackbarth: It really does. Oh my God, it totally does.

Naomi Nakamura: You and I have had this personal conversation before.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: My father is a social studies teacher, he taught most of the kids for like 40 years on the island that I grew up with about all of this, so I understand all of this. But I grew up in Hawaii, that's six hours behind Washington D.C., and when I was in school, my parents would get off of work at like 4:30, 5:00, and they would go vote. I would be sitting at home, watching the election returns on TV, and they would be announcing the winners. I would be thinking, "Wait a minute, my parents are voting but yet, they're announcing the winners."

From that very early age, even though my father taught all these things that your vote matters, in my head because I saw these things happen, I never really believed that my vote matters or that the things like writing and calling, up until I got involved with Beautycounter, I was skeptical. I never really believed that it matters, which is why I find learning about the work that you did so interesting because I'm actually learning how this all really works behind the scenes. In fact, it does make a difference.

Tami Hackbarth: It truly does because ... oh, boy. I'm about to get on some like School of Rock like how a bill becomes a law. Here's the thing, when we look at any echelon where the people are in government, the people who represent us are truly people, and so they come with their own biases, they come with their own knowledge, they come with their own background, and if you come at them with like a real personal story, they can shake in their boots and go, "Oh my God. I had no idea, I never thought of it like that."

Another way you can get their attention is if you have something that you're really passionate about and you get everyone you know to contact them about it, they'd be like, "I had no idea that people were so passionate about safer beauty 'cause we haven't been hearing from people about this, how would we know?"

The more you have interest in something, the more you let them know, the more they'll be like, "Dude, people in my district have contacted me about this and they have told me how it impacts their lives. Now I either oppose or support a bill based on who I'm hearing from." If they don't hear from you-

Naomi Nakamura: They're going to assume it's not important to their constituents.

Tami Hackbarth: Right.

Naomi Nakamura: With technology that we have today, it is a lot easier than it was in the late '90s and early 2000s-

Tami Hackbarth: Yes.

Naomi Nakamura: To make that known. But I want to back things up just a little bit.

Tami Hackbarth: Okay.

Naomi Nakamura: I want to find out and ask you, how does one know what organization is legit?

Tami Hackbarth: That's a good question. It's like asking a fish about breathing in the water, I'm like, "Um, what's water?"

Naomi Nakamura: For me, because I have such trust in the Beautycounter brand-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: I have automatic trust for the organizations that they have chosen to partner with. I already trust that they have fleshed things out and they have determined who's legit and who's not because we've heard things in the past few years about really well-known organizations suddenly being investigated for misuse of funds and all of that. It kind of creates a distrust of these other organizations just as a whole.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: You're not quite sure who can I trust and who I can't. For me, that is how I've come to determine who I can trust because other trusted brands who I believe in their integrity, but for someone who's not in the same position as me, what are the things that they can look for to determine where they should put their support behind?

Tami Hackbarth: Okay. Well, first a little story about how I vetted Beautycounter for myself was who they partnered with and I said, "Oh, if they're partnering with Beautycounter, they must be the real deal." It works both ways because I was coming at them from a different perspective. When you approached me, you're like, "Hey, do you want to do this?" I was like, "Oh, I don't know." And then you told me-

Naomi Nakamura: 'Cause you were already familiar with the partners they support -

Tami Hackbarth: Yes. I was familiar with their partners-

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: And I knew they were legit, so I was like, "What?"

Naomi Nakamura: How did you know they were legit?

Tami Hackbarth: Because I used to represent one of them.

Naomi Nakamura: Got it. Got it. It's the whole going back to influencers again, it works-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: Anywhere.

Tami Hackbarth: It does. It's like, oh, once you know, like, and trust someone, you're like, "Oh. I get it." If you don't know, you can ask your politically connected friends. I mean, again, you could be like, "So, if I'm interested in this, how can I do it?" We might all have one, and if we don't, we could reach out to someone that we met online.

I would also say I would go with the big established name brands of advocacy. Like if I wanted to do cancer stuff, I might go to the American Cancer Society and go, who are they partnering with on breast cancer stuff? Then I might go do some investigative work about well, the American Cancer Society's working with this group, let me go look at this group and see if they have any skeletons in their closet, and let me see where they're actually putting their money because, also, every organization does not have the same focus, right? Some organizations are about treatment, some organizations are about cures, some organizations are about-

Naomi Nakamura: Support.

Tami Hackbarth: Support or research. It also depends on what your particular flavor of advocacy is. Google's always your friend.

Naomi Nakamura: It's everybody's friend.

Tami Hackbarth: Right. It's your friend. Then you're going to have to do some due diligence.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Tami Hackbarth: And almost every organization has some sort of like advocacy or lobbying or governmental relations part of their website. There should be like a 'click here to get involved', 'click here to get their newsletter', 'find out what's happening in this issue area'. This is the beautiful thing, these organizations 9 times out of 10 will also have ... they'll have a national organization, so you'll be following national bills, national legislation, which will cover the whole country, and most of those organizations also have a statewide organization, so you'll be looking at the state legislature to find out what state bills are happening in your particular issue area.

Naomi Nakamura: What are some of the common ways that once we find our organization, and they're going to have ways that they can recommend getting involved, but based upon your experience, what are some of the ways that you've seen to be the most helpful of people getting involved?

Tami Hackbarth: The easiest one that you can do right this second while you're listening to this podcast is hit the 'donate' button to the organization so that the paid staff can fulfill the mission. Super easy, a lot of times it's tax deductible, sometimes it's not. Take a hit for the team, it's okay. Then you end up usually on their mailing list. Easy, actionable, you don't have to leave your house.

Another way is to volunteer your time. Some ways I have done some volunteering is I have done phone banks-

Naomi Nakamura: What is that?

Tami Hackbarth: I knew you were going to say that. It's sitting in a call center with a giant like Rolodex and you're calling supporters to ask them to do something. Something like, "Hey, can you renew your membership to X, Y, Z organization for $35 this year? Blah, blah, blah. You've supported us in the past."

Naomi Nakamura: It could be like sending a text-

Tami Hackbarth: It could be sending a text-

Naomi Nakamura: Or something?

Tami Hackbarth: To ... as a person who's contacting people, you might be contacting the public to solicit donations or you might be calling the public to solicit volunteers or you may be calling on behalf of the organization to the Capitol or the Capitol offices. Phone banking goes a long way, text banking.

You could be writing letters, like real, honest to God letters. You could be calling. What are you calling about? The organization will 9 times out of 10 be like, "Hey, we're working on this bill-"

Naomi Nakamura: They'll coach you through it.

Tami Hackbarth: They'll coach you ... they'll give you the talking points of what it is. This is what I will say, never be afraid to call an office of a representative because they represent you. They actually want to hear from you and 9 times out of 10, the person that picks up the phone, again, is that shiny, brand new, 20 something, like college intern who, when you call and you're polite, they practically send you a thank you letter. They're so happy that you're calling and not yelling at them. I might have a little PTSD from getting yelled at every time the phone rang.

They say, "Congressional office of so and so, where are you calling from?" 9 times out of 10, again, they'll ask for your zip code because the people they want to hear from the most are the people they represent-

Naomi Nakamura: They represent. Right.

Tami Hackbarth: They represent. On really contentious issues, for myself, I don't care, I'm going to call you anyway. But most of the time, I'm calling my own people. They'll want your zip code, your name, and they want to know, as succinctly as possible, are you a thumbs up or a thumbs down, for what the reason you're calling, and maybe a reason or two.

Naomi Nakamura: I was going to say, what if you have a compelling story?

Tami Hackbarth: You might say, "You might want to hear this story." I have a friend who, during the big ACA healthcare debacle last year, her husband had been really quite ill the two years before, so she contacted our congresswoman and our congresswoman read her letter to the floor of the United States Congress-

Naomi Nakamura: Wow.

Tami Hackbarth: She put it in the record, the congressional record, because she had a very compelling story about why healthcare should continue.

Another thing that you could do is if you are particularly fired up about something, you could take yourself on down, make an appointment, and actually visit the offices of your representatives. 99% of the time, you will be meeting with somebody who is not your member of Congress or the legislature, you'll meet with their staff. They're lovely. Again, super young, friend, and what they want to know is why do care, how does this affect our constituents, how can we help?

Naomi Nakamura: You actually haven't been around with Beautycounter very long, but Beautycounter has done this ... they've done it twice in the two and a half years that I have been a part of the movement, and they took two ... well, the first time it was two consultants from every state to Washington D.C. to meet with their state's representatives. Last year ... or actually, it was earlier this year ... I don't ... it might have been two from every state again who went, but there was also a large group of women who, across the country because we're in all 50 states, who took the initiative and also met with their local leaders, and actually went into the offices and met with them.

Tami Hackbarth: It's really effective. It's super effective. If you want things to change, you have to show up. Here's the thing, you don't have to be an expert and you don't have to be intimidated. I know it can feel really intimidating, people are like, "I, uh, no."

Naomi Nakamura: You know when I saw that there were other consultants doing that, I was like, "I wouldn't even know who to contact. How do you even go about asking, like do I just show up? Do I have to schedule and request an appointment?" I wouldn't even know how to do that.

Tami Hackbarth: Every representative has a website. You first find out who represents you-

Naomi Nakamura: That I know.

Tami Hackbarth: You go to the website. But you go and you look at their website-

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: You might even find out who the person is, the staff person. If you are ... If you want to go, I would make a phone call and go, "Hey, I'd love to come and talk to somebody in your office about safer beauty," and then that person will be like, 'cause the person you're talking to first will not be the person who's handling safer beauty, they'll be like, "Hold on, let me get so and so." Then you talk to so and so and you make an appointment with them.

Over the last of couple years, people have been like, "Oh my God, how do you this?" I'm like, "Well, I spend a lot of time faxing," and people are like, "I'm sorry. You have a fax machine?"

Naomi Nakamura: I was just going to ask that.

Tami Hackbarth: I do.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay.

Tami Hackbarth: There's an app on your ... You can text, you can use this thing called Resistbot, it's 50409, and you can set it up. I'm making sure that number is right. 50409, and when you text that, Resistbot makes it to where you can contact your representatives directly via your phone. Hello, it's a text. For the longest time it was a fax. I love the idea, I was using this like new technology to fax my offices, but I think they change it to an electronic message.

The point is, you never have to talk to anyone. You also can send messages, like emails, I'm making universal curly fingers for emails, and here's a protip. Phone calls, there's debate on whether or not phone calls weigh more versus a text or a fax or an email or a letter -

Naomi Nakamura: Well, I'm sure it must vary office to office as well.

Tami Hackbarth: Right.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Tami Hackbarth: Protip, if you're like, "Oh my God, but I just don't want to talk to anyone," cool, wait til after business hours, call, and leave a message. You're like, "Dude, I made my calls and I talked to zero. Zero people."

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: It gets counted. Again, there'll be some like], this is the office of so and so, so and so. These are the office hours, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." You're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah," you simply say your name, your zip code, if you're in support or in opposite, and one or two sentences why. Then you hang up and you give yourself a high five, and you go on Facebook and brag about it.

Naomi Nakamura: Simple enough. You have been out of this work for a while, you went through a whole teaching career, and you're doing your self-care coaching now, you talked about you continue to eat organic, so what other things have you done based upon, in your own personal life, based upon the things that you've learned while doing this work.

Tami Hackbarth: I've replaced every single one of my household cleaners with basically something I could drink. Now, will it be tasty? No, but it will not kill me.

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: And my house, when my house is clean, it sparkles without making eyes water, so changed out all household products, cleaning products, all of that. All my stuff that goes on my skin is safer. Still working on my hair, but I figure since my hair is ... well, I'll be working on my hair-

Naomi Nakamura: I'm still working on that part too.

Tami Hackbarth: There we go. It's so funny because products, in the last 20 years, have improved so much. I don't know if ... I'm allergic to milk, so I've been drinking milk alternatives forever, they have gotten so much better that people who are not allergic to milk are like, "Yeah. I'll have an almond milk latte." And I'm like-

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: I guess.

Naomi Nakamura: That's a lot of things that, particularly the leaders of our team, have pointed out because they have been thought leaders in the organic food and real food movement, they have pointed out that this movement for safer personal care products is very much following the movement for organic food, right?

Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely. It's not just what you put in your body-

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: It's what you put on your body because-

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: Your body's biggest organ is your skin.

Naomi Nakamura: But even just a few years ago, I think I went gluten-free in maybe 2012 because I actually realized that my skin cleared up and my stomach didn't hurt as much when I didn't eat wheat products, even just, what, five, six years ago, it was a lot harder to find gluten-free foods and it was a lot more expensive-

Tami Hackbarth: Yes.

Naomi Nakamura: Even with organic foods. But now just five or six years later, it's become, like you said, more mainstream where we've seen our efforts start to pay off as it relates to our wallets.

Tami Hackbarth: Well, I think it's consumer demand. I think as consumers start to demand better tasting, better working ... like professional grade products to be used in the home, I think that manufacturers are responding. They're like, "Oh, so this is the direction we're doing now." I had to tell you, Naomi, this is what sold me, I had been looking for the rainbow unicorn of sunscreen-

Naomi Nakamura: I know.

Tami Hackbarth: For 20 years.

Naomi Nakamura: Just so people know, Tami joined my Beautycounter team back in May, and it literally came from Instagram, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I did an Instagram story, and I just randomly was like, "Hey, if you want a sample of this, let me know." And you raise your hand and said you want a sample of this.

Tami Hackbarth: Totally.

Naomi Nakamura: I don't do this for every person but there was something in my gut that just said, "She might be interested in the business aspect of this," and I asked you with zero expectation. Whenever I ask somebody, I always have zero expectation because even if I think they're a great fit to do this work, the timing has to be right and there's like, the stars have to align. But you actually said yes, and I didn't know this whole other part of your background. You actually ... I drove up to see you in Sacramento, and the sunscreen was what you just fell in love with.

Tami Hackbarth: It was the sunscreen, lipstick combo.

Naomi Nakamura: It was the lipstick too, that's right.

Tami Hackbarth: And I have to say, I think I said yes to doing this as soon as I tried it. Like I literally tried the sunscreen and lipstick once and I was like, "Dude, I'm in." Here's why, it took me basically 19 years to find a sunscreen I wanted to wear, and I found one and it was fantastic, it's this tinted thing, it's very much like Dew Skin. Then you showed me this whole other line of like all these axillary products, and I was like, "Oh, tell me more." Once I found ... I was like, "Oh my God-"

Naomi Nakamura: Because you were not ... you were not a client.

Tami Hackbarth: No.

Naomi Nakamura: You came in because of, well, the higher performing, safer products, but also because of the advocacy piece.

Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely. Because here's the thing, Beautycounter, yes, they sell, manufacture, produce, the whole thing, these high quality, beautifully packaged, beautiful products, and they're changing lives. Here's the thing, even if you never become a Beautycounter consultant or a Beautycounter user, a Beautycounter member, Beautycounter's still changing your life because of the coalition work that they're doing in Sacramento. Every single salon person is now going to have information they need about their products -

Naomi Nakamura: Let's knock ... Let's knock things up a little bit because we actually didn't talk about the salon bill very much-

Tami Hackbarth: Okay.

Naomi Nakamura: 'Cause it literally just passed, I think it was this last week.

Tami Hackbarth: AB-2 ... AB-2775.

Naomi Nakamura: Why don't you just give the overview of what that is? And I want to point out that you and I both just said, made changes in the foods that we eat, in the cleaning products that we use, in the products we put on our skin, but we haven't yet on our hair. I get my hair colored, I don't know about you-

Tami Hackbarth: I don't.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay. Well, I do, and I know that that is a big area of concern.

Tami Hackbarth: Do you go to a salon?

Naomi Nakamura: I go to a salon. I do bring my own shampoo and conditioner and styling products, but when I get my hair colored, there's a couple of options out there, but they're not apples for apples type of thing, right? You're making concessions there.

Tami Hackbarth: You're making concessions definitely in the safer beauty, but here's the thing, from my understanding, professional salon grade stuff, they don't have to put the ingredients on-

Naomi Nakamura: They don't.

Tami Hackbarth: What it is.

Naomi Nakamura: They don't.

Tami Hackbarth: How are your people, your estheticians, how are your hair people, your stylists-

Naomi Nakamura: Well, even your manicurist-

Tami Hackbarth: Personnel.

Naomi Nakamura: And your pedicurist.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah, everybody. How are they supposed to know what is in it? You have all this consumer information on every product that you buy at Target or at Beautycounter or at Macy's or Sephora, all of those are listed. But when you go get your hair colored or your nails done at the salon-

Naomi Nakamura: For professional grade products.

Tami Hackbarth: Professional grade products, the people who smell that stuff all day long and work with heat all day long with that-

Naomi Nakamura: In an enclosed-

Tami Hackbarth: They don't have that.

Naomi Nakamura: In enclosed room.

Tami Hackbarth: Right.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Tami Hackbarth: You're safer in the salon because we're all huffing those fumes while we're in there. The people who work in that environment are safer there.

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: Everyone wins when we all have information.

Naomi Nakamura: So, I know the answer to this but I want you to explain it.

Tami Hackbarth: Okay.

Naomi Nakamura: Why does it matter that California passed this? How is that going to affect somebody in Rhode Island or in Louisiana or in Michigan?

Tami Hackbarth: Well, from my understanding, California's the sixth largest economy in the world, and where ... we, I'm a native so I would just say we-

Naomi Nakamura: We.

Tami Hackbarth: I'm saying California, we. We're typically ahead, we're the trendsetters, so where California goes, the world follows or the country follows. Beautycounter and every other manufacturer, they make products for the most stringent standards, they don't make products just for Kentucky, they don't make products just for Delaware, they don't make products just for Florida-

Naomi Nakamura: Or just for California.

Tami Hackbarth: Or just for California, they make products to be sold nationwide. So, every manufacturer has to look at who has the highest standard, we have to meet that standard, so everyone benefits based on the highest standard set.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay.

Tami Hackbarth: We just happen to have set that standard.

Naomi Nakamura: Right. And I didn't understand that until this whole thing came out.

Tami Hackbarth: It's a big deal.

Naomi Nakamura: It's a big deal, and I'm also ... I was also very naïve to this whole process as this flows, very transparently. But I've been educated.

Tami Hackbarth: Right.

Naomi Nakamura: But that's why it is such a huge deal that our governor just signed this into law, that's going to help-

Tami Hackbarth: I think it was last week.

Naomi Nakamura: Was it last week or was it this week? I'm getting my weeks mixed up.

Tami Hackbarth: I think it was last week.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay, it was last week. But it's a big deal-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: Because it's the biggest, I guess, piece of legislation to pass since the 1930s.

Tami Hackbarth: Which is completely ... like there's silence on my part is like, that's bonkers.

Naomi Nakamura: I know. I watched the video-

Tami Hackbarth: By the way, let's put it in context, it's almost 100 years ago.

Naomi Nakamura: Put it this way, when you think of San Francisco, you think of the Golden Gate Bridge, right? Can you even fathom the San Francisco Bay Area without the Golden Gate Bride? It is so iconic. The last piece of legislation passed was, I think it was the year before the bridge was built.

Tami Hackbarth: So, this is a big deal. Even though it seems really technical and science-y and like oh, who cares, it's like, well, we all care because we spend time in salons. Also, I just look at this as who are the consumers of these products, who purchased these products, who used them, mostly women. This is the women's health issue.

Naomi Nakamura: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Let's get back to your love of our sunscreen. Why did it take you 19 years?

Tami Hackbarth: Oh God. Okay, well, it was not for lack of trying.

Naomi Nakamura: I know that, that's why I'm like-

Tami Hackbarth: Okay.

Naomi Nakamura: Why did it take you 19 years?

Tami Hackbarth: Well, you know Goldie Locks, she goes and she's like, "This bowl of porridge is too hot. And this bowl of porridge is too cold." Well, sunscreen was this sunscreen is too, I kid you not, yellow, where I was like no, like I have guidance. But I'm going to wear it because I want to be safer, and I did give the color a try. This one is too sticky, this one's too stinky, this one's too-

Naomi Nakamura: Or it's too thick and just white.

Tami Hackbarth: White. Yes. The white cast, not attractive. And there's no amount of rubbing in like full on zinc oxide where you're like, now I'm red and white instead of just white.

Naomi Nakamura: So you were aware of that whole thing from 19 years ago and you spent 19 years looking for-

Tami Hackbarth: I did.

Naomi Nakamura: A high performing, safer option.

Tami Hackbarth: I did. But I will tell you, I did wear a pretty poisonous, excuse me, I wore, faithfully, a non-safer, in-between all my tries, I wore a very effective, very available, non-safer product. What I was looking for was the holy grail of what made that product so attractive to me was it was lightweight, non-greasy, didn't leave a film, didn't have a smell.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, and it's the whole thing again of having to make concessions between safer and high performing.

Tami Hackbarth: You know what my favorite part of this? I don't have to make those concessions anymore.

Naomi Nakamura: I mean, that was my same thing when it came to Color Cosmetics, I loved two or three brands, I had five containers full of their products. When I learned that how they disrupt our endocrine system, and when we talk about endocrine system, we mean hormones, right, and we all know hormonal issues are a huge issue for men and women, but predominately women. When this was brought to my attention by my doctor, I threw everything out. Again, looking for products that were high performing and safer, I spent a full year looking 'cause I didn't know about Beautycounter, no idea it even existed. Found it just before I almost just gave up and was going to go back to what I was using because I was looking for that performance, right?

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah. I am not much of a Color Cosmetics person, although I have a bunch now, I just ... I work at home, I am very happy with my sunscreen, and my Dew Skin, so people, if you're just going to get two products, get Dew Skin, which has SPF, and Countersun, also SPF and highly usable.

Naomi Nakamura: But you love that lipstick too.

Tami Hackbarth: Oh my God. The lipstick, the lipsticks. I'm always like, people are like, "Oh, your lipsticks so fantastic." I'm like, "Oh my God, you want to try it?" Because I have two, I have the Intense Color, which I call the peppermint one because, hello, it's kind of frosty on your lips and smells good, and then the Sheer, which smells like vanilla. There is nothing better than a delicious smelling lipstick that you barely have to reapply because the color stays on.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, and that's the problem with lipstick too is because they're known to have a lot of heavy metals in them, right?

Tami Hackbarth: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Naomi Nakamura: And we put them on our lips.

Tami Hackbarth: And then we eat them all day long.

Naomi Nakamura: I was going to say, and there is ... we ingest them without even realizing it. That's-

Tami Hackbarth: Well, you always wonder where'd my lipstick go? It's like, well, some of it's on your cup and the rest of it's in your body.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes, yes.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: And that is another thing that's something that I was like, "Oh, that's so obvious but it just never even clicked in my head."

Tami Hackbarth: Also, totally gross and you're like, "Oh, I never thought about that. Yuck."

Naomi Nakamura: Okay. What are three to five just actions that every person can do to advocate for women's health? Because I feel like this is not a partisan issue, this is just a human issue.

Tami Hackbarth: Yes. That is very true, and as you get into the process, you're going to be like, "Didn't you say this was non-partisan? Why do people have opposition?" Just know there will be opposition to all good ideas that are safer and awesome, don't take it personally.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, it becomes a process, right? And I was just-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: Having this conversation with someone, we are all in our own trajectory and like you said, every lawmaker's also human.

Tami Hackbarth: Absolutely.

Naomi Nakamura: It just takes over and over and over education to get them to that level of understanding.

Tami Hackbarth: All right. I'll start there. Through this process, you may find that your representative is no smarter than you, is no more educated, is no more anything than you, so you want to be an advocate for women's health? Run for office. What? Because, you know what?

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah, I don't know about that.

Tami Hackbarth: You can do it. There's one. Everyone's like that's ... no thanks.

Naomi Nakamura: Okay, maybe like three to five ones that like every person can do.

Tami Hackbarth: Every person can do. Okay. One is spend your money on safer products.

Naomi Nakamura: And by doing that you're voting with your dollars.

Tami Hackbarth: Voting with your dollars. Where do you find safer products? Environmental Working Group has an app, Environmental Working Group has great lists of products that always include Beautycounter.

Naomi Nakamura: And I was going to say, we both, obviously, we're both Beautycounter consultants, but our work is to get safer products into everyone's hands, not just Beautycounter's. We do that through the advocacy piece that we just talked about because we have an entire team at Beautycounter who just works on advocacy. Lindsay Dahl on Instagram, she does a great job of sharing the work and also educating. If you aren't following her yet, I'll include her link in the show notes. But that database you just talked about, that gives a rating of so many products and you can go in and see what it's rated, what the ingredients are, and why it received the rating that it did.

I will point this out is, there are many more conventional brands that do have safer ranked products. Not all of them are, but-

Tami Hackbarth: Right, which is why you need to look product by product.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes. Which is my point.

Tami Hackbarth: Yes.

Naomi Nakamura: Which is why you need to look product to product. Don't just discard a brand because you automatically think, "Oh, well, they're mainstream, they're not going to have anything safe." Look at-

Tami Hackbarth: Oh, no.

Naomi Nakamura: The actual product. By that same token, you might look at a brand that may be perceived because they're using some marketing language that makes you think that they are all natural or all organic, which, in those terms, don't mean the same thing as it does in the food industry.

Tami Hackbarth: Right.

Naomi Nakamura: There's no legislation, which is Beautycounter's advocating for to have meaning behind what those terms mean in the beauty industry. You really have to go look product to product and see what -

Tami Hackbarth: And it doesn't ... Safer doesn't mean more expensive.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Tami Hackbarth: And more expensive doesn't mean safer.

Naomi Nakamura: That's a good point.

Tami Hackbarth: In the big scheme of things, Beautycounter's pretty much in the middle. They have products on all price points and they have very comparable products given their performance. But you can go to Target and they have safer beauty there. Sometimes ... Didn't Beautycounter do a thing with Target-

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Tami Hackbarth: A few years ago?

Naomi Nakamura: I think it was two Falls ago-

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: We had a promotion in Target. Yeah, yeah.

Tami Hackbarth: There you go. What you can also do, and this is one that I did a lot this summer, which is talk to your friends and family about safer beauty. This is how it went. Every single time I went swimming, which is a lot 'cause I live somewhere hot-

Naomi Nakamura: Well, and you have a child who-

Tami Hackbarth: And I have a child.

Naomi Nakamura: That's what she wanted to do during the summer.

Tami Hackbarth: Exactly. I brought my Beautycounter sunscreen so I could continue to be like, "Oh my God. Have you tried this sunscreen?" And I put the spray and the lotion out on the table, and I said, "Anybody that needs sunscreen, try it." Every person was like, "Shut the front door. This is amazing." It's really easy. Like if you find a product you love, share it with your people and they will then buy it too.

Another action you can take is follow along with Beautycounter legislative actions. Find out from the Beautycounter.com, go on their legislative page, and sign up for actions, so you can help out in that regard. Support candidates who are active for safer beauty products. You might want to connect with the people in your state to find out if you had a safer beauty bill in your state, who were-

Naomi Nakamura: Like the safer salon bill in California.

Tami Hackbarth: That's right. Who were the sponsors, who were the coauthors, who were the cosponsors? Find out who those people were and be like, "Hey, I see you standing up for safer beauty. Thank you."

Finally, find a women's health organization whose mission matches where your passion lies for women's health. Because again, women's health can be so broad and come at it from so many perspectives that I can't be like, "Well, this is the one place to look," right? Find the organization who's out in front doing the work, and then support them.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, this has been really enlightening and interesting. I learned a lot of things that I didn't know. Like I said, I was very naïve to this whole process despite being the child of someone who taught these things. But I honestly think it's because at a young age, I saw this behavior happening on TV while parents were doing their duty as citizens and voting, and I just ... it was ingrained in me from a very early age that that stuff doesn't really matter. I kind of thought my parents were a little bit foolish for making the efforts 'cause I really was like, "Doesn't count. You're voting and they're announcing the winners on TV already."

Tami Hackbarth: What's amazing is I had ... Those are called exit polls and I had a very different reaction. We're around the same age, so around the time, I was watching the same thing, and being in California, we're still three hours behind D.C., and so, exit polls were coming to. You decided to be like, "That's dumb. I'm out of here," and my response was, "That's dumb. I'm in it to change it."

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: I want early voting. I want vote by mail. I want the news to be held accountable for not announcing anything until the polls close.

Naomi Nakamura: Are closed. Yeah.

Tami Hackbarth: Because it's not fair.

Naomi Nakamura: It's not. It's not.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah. I think it's funny that we, again, shared that experience and had a different reaction. Then all these years later-

Naomi Nakamura: End up in the same place.

Tami Hackbarth: Come to the same place of like, "Oh my God. We're both doing advocacy work through-"

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Tami Hackbarth: On this platform-

Naomi Nakamura: I think it just shows that we all have different journeys to get us here.

Tami Hackbarth: Totally.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, thank you so much for taking your time and talking about this. I found it very useful and, like I said, very educational and enlightening.

Tami Hackbarth: Well, thanks for having me. I never talk about this stuff, so I'm happy to do it.

Naomi Nakamura: Maybe you need to more often.

Tami Hackbarth: Yeah, I know. I'm realizing I have a weird skillset, I'm like a coach, I'm a teacher, oh, and I worked in politics for 12 years. Whoa, that's weird.

Naomi Nakamura: This is where it all intersects together.

Tami Hackbarth: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Totally.

Naomi Nakamura: If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to me if you would subscribe to this podcast, write a review, or even share it with someone who you know would enjoy it too. In the meantime, you can find the show notes for this episode and all other episodes over on my website at www.liveFABlife.com. There you can submit a question to be answered right here on the show, sign up for weekly updates, insider access, and get behind the scene scoops, and learn how we can work together too.

Most importantly, thank you so much for being here, and I can't wait to connect with you again on the next episode of the show. See you next week.


Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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