What I wish I had known when I entered puberty

I’ve written before about G Day for Girls and it’s concept to celebrate and empower girls ages 10-12 as they transition into adolescence.  The event was a few days ago and it was pretty awesome.  I’ve written about puberty before but I thought I would share with all of you the top 10 list that I covered in the 15 minutes I was given in front of the 250 girls that attended.

It went something like this:

1. Most girls have vulvas.  There is a lot of variety in what vulvas look like.


I explained that being a girl is mostly about how you feel and not about what your body looks like.  I then defined vulva (and mentioned all its parts) since I think many girls are taught vagina but not vulva.  I’ve written about the distinction before but briefly explained how one is like the mouth and the other is the face.  So, in other words, they are different and are worthy of the language that distinguishes them.  I explained that vulvas change shape and colour during puberty. Labia get bigger and oftentimes darker in hue.   All vulvas are different, just like every face in the room is different…


2. Vaginas produce fluid.

670px-Diagnose-Vaginal-Discharge-Step-5Some people call it discharge. I prefer fluid (since it just seems less icky to me). I explained that vaginal fluid becomes more noticeable (‘cause there is more of it) and will start to change depending on what’s going on with a person’s menstrual cycle.  The stuff can be clear and watery, or creamy and tacky or really really stretchy.  All of which are healthy.  It can have different smells too.  Vaginas are self-cleaning and self-lubricating which will keep your body comfortable. Paying attention to what’s coming out of you gives you a lot of information about your body and gives you power too.  So look at it, feel it, smell it.  You can even taste it.  It’s your body and there is zero reason to ever be grossed out by it.

Perhaps you can imagine the reaction to my suggestion to taste it.  I reminded the girls that everyone has tasted their boogers at one point or another and that when you cut your finger it’s not atypical to stick the bloody digit in your mouth.  I didn’t mention that many of them will likely taste the fluids that come out of other peoples bodies at some point in the future.  I suppose I’m saving that for GDay, part deux.  I also didn’t tell them about the fluids or smells that can indicate that a vagina isn’t as healthy as it could be.  That’s for the next chat too.

3. People masturbate. People with vulvas masturbate.

Masturbation is about stimulating one’s one genitals for pleasure.  A lot of people consider it very private which might be why its not talked about to pre-teens a lot.  Still, it’s normal and healthy.  A lot of girls (and boys) discover this around puberty.  Some figure it out earlier, some do it later, some never do it.  All are totally normal. First of all, it feels good.  It can be a great stress reliever and it’s also a great way to get to know your body where sex is concerned.
 (I’ve  written about talking to kids about this several times. Have a look!

4. Breasts often grow at different times and usually end up not being symmetrical.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 2.20.05 PMPeople are not even.  One foot is usually a wee bit bigger than the other.  My two nostrils are completely different from one another.  Breasts often grow at different times and often end up looking slightly different from each other.


5. Hair grows everywhere (and doesn’t need to be managed or removed).

I showed the girls a bunch of slides and covered a lot of the material that I wrote about here.  I must admit that I went off a bit on this one.

6. Teenagers get moody.

I explained that I didn’t really believe it at the time since I was just feeling like me.  But I was moody – and I didn’t always know what it was I was feeling.  Sometimes sad or melancholy, lonesome, agitated.  All sorts of things at the same time even.  It’s ok and the extreme mood changes are happening because there are lots of hormones figuring out how to behave in our bodies.  Which isn’t easy.

7. Your DNA determines when puberty will start and end.  Be patient.

I felt like the last girl on earth to start puberty.  Now I know that some girls feel like the first girl on earth, some think it will never happen or will ever stop.  But everyone who reaches adulthood goes through puberty. When a person will start puberty is determined the moment the sperm and ovum meet.  All this to say, it will start when it’s supposed to start, and will end when it’s supposed to end.  There is no right or wrong timeline.

8. Crushes are pretty intense.

keep-calm-and-have-crushesUsually around puberty, sometimes before, sometimes after, people get their first crushes.  This is, of course, about liking someone in a special sort of way.  In a way that maybe feels like heart palpitations, or butterflies or maybe even tingly feelings further down (there was some pointing here to be sure I was understood).  But crushes aren’t always about real life romance or relationships – we can have crushes on movie stars, on a teacher or a friend’s parent.  Or we can crush on a person we’ve known since kindergarden.  We can crush on girls or boys, women or men and it doesn’t necessarily tell us if we are straight or gay.  Sometimes we talk about our crushes, to friends, parents, or the crush – or we don’t.  If we want the feelings to be reciprocated, and their aren’t, it can hurt.  Crushes can be, well, crushing.

9. People with penises are self conscious too.

They may stress about how tall they are, how broad they are, how many zits they have.  Sometimes people act tough and like they don’t care.  Sometimes they make fun of themselves, don’t join in. Maybe even reassure them.

10. Adolescence is the best time in your life (along with childhood and adulthood).

There are amazing up sides to adolescence, just like there are fabulous upsides to childhood and adulthood.  During adolescence, you will stretch and grow physically, but also emotionally.  Both can hurt a little, and can be exhilarating and exhausting.  All of it will teach you things that you’ll use for the rest of your life.  Make it all count.  

Sisters: live big, love yourself, and be kind to others.

Stay tuned for a G Day for Girls in a community near you. (Join the fb page to stay in the know…)

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  1. […] talk was a list of ten things she wishes she’d know growing up. Number three on the list was: People masturbate. People with vulvas masturbate. (First on her […]

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