4th Grade Puberty Whirlwind

“Half the 4th Grade girls have boobs and wear bras,” Ainsley reported.

“Really? Like, for real?” I asked, stunned because no one had boobs until like the 7th Grade when I was in school. “Like they really need bras?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, give me five!” I said, holding my hand out.

“Why would I give you five?” she asked

“It’s better not to be the first one to get boobs in the 4th Grade, believe me,” I informed her.

“Well, I don’t want to be the only girl without boobs,” she said.

“You’re not. You said half the class. That means half the class doesn’t have boobs.” I said.

“They are having a Bra Club. You have to have boobs to be in the club,” she reported.

“Well. Go get ready for soccer,” I said.

A few days later, as I was getting ready for bed she came into the bathroom.

“Mom? When can I shave my legs?” she asked.

“When you’re 12,” I said, because this was when I had been allowed to shave my legs and so obviously, this is the right and appropriate answer.

“All the kids make fun of my hairy legs!” she exclaimed.

“Who does?” I asked, wondering if she just uses this line because I tend to fall for it a lot.

“Sarah and the kids at soccer and when I wear shorts at school,” she claimed.

“Ainsley, shaving your legs is a real pain in the butt. Once you start your hair grows back in all stubbly and scratchy and black, it doesn’t grow back in all soft and downy like your hair is now. I’m not kidding, it’s a massive pain in the butt and you have to shave like everyday. That’s why I don’t think you should do it yet,” I explained reasonably.

“I don’t care. I don’t want all the kids making fun of me. Look at this hair! It’s embarrassing!” she yelled, showing me her admittedly hairy legs.

I looked down and rubbed her hairy legs and wondered how the hair would grow back in if we just used Nair rather than shaving them for a few years. Would they grow back in stubbly and black then?

“Go to bed Ainsley. It’s late,” I told her.

“Fine! I’ll just have everyone make fun of me and go to school embarrassed and play soccer in shorts embarrassed! You don’t care!” she yelled and slammed the door to her room.

I sighed and went to her room. I really am a sucker for the teasing and embarrassed thing,I thought as I opened her door and said into the dark, “Maybe we’ll try Nair this weekend and see what happens.”

“What’s Nair?” she asked.

“It’s this cream that dissolves hair. I don’t know how it will grow back in. But, we can try it and see,” I said.

“Okay. Thank you,” she said.

“Good night. I love you,” I said.

I shut the door. Is there really any reason that 10-year-olds were required to have hairy legs if it embarrasses them, I wondered. Is there some rule that says it has to be 12? I wonder when other parents let their kids shave their legs? 4th Grade sure isn’t what it used to be, it got a hell of a lot more complicated. 

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Solidarity Bush

Grow out your bush in solidarity with your pubescent daughter.

Then you can say, “Everybody gets pubic hair. It’s natural, normal and beautiful.” And mean it.

I was, honestly, so proud of my soft chocolate-and-gold-tinted triangle.

Until a boyfriend mentioned he preferred it groomed another way. Then another boyfriend mentioned he like it groomed further. Then a certain someone said, the Brazillian wax really turned him on.

Oh the pain. The pain! The mother-bleeping pain.

Of course, everyone of those f#$5ers had hairy balls and some even had a hairy back. Which. Is. Not. Hot.

That said, I realize it won’t be the dead of winter forever and that swimwear doesn’t fashionably go to mid-thigh. So, something must be done about the dreaded, nuisance of the bikini line. That day, is coming for my daughter too.

I feel conflicted about this. Should I advise her to go for the chemical acid burn of a hair removal cream, the ingrown hairs and razor burn or just ruin her childhood and adolescence and all her previously romantic notions about femininity by introducing her to genital waxing?

If anyone on this planet has a non-barbaric, non-painful, non-chemical-acid-burn-causing, preferably natural and painless solution to the blasted bikini-line dilemma, please email me. I’m determined to find an agreeable solution for my daughter and yours. I’ll put it on TGR Body.

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Hormone Martini

Hormone Martini Recipe

One part early puberty.
One part early peri-menopause.
Mix in a whopping bit of love.
Stir in some house rules in a card game, jokers wild.
Plop in some compound hormones.
Slather on some mean girls from school.
Drizzle some dark chocolate over a smashing headache.
Add a dash of bloating.
Pour over a marriage on the rocks.
Shake vigorously.

I’ll let you know how it turns out in a few years.

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Toxic Substances Control Act – Early Puberty

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and MomsRising.org are supporting an update of the Toxic Substances Control Act, to address endocrine disrupters that mess with girls’ hormones in an effort to fight early childhood puberty.

According to the Journal of Pediatrics more than one in ten girls are starting to develop breasts by age seven, with even higher rates in some communities, Finkbeiner writes in her post “Puberty in Second Grade?”.

Also from her post:

One of the many contributing factors to the rise in early puberty is that young children are exposed to dozens of potentially toxic chemicals on a daily basis.  In fact, endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that mimic and interfere with hormones, show up in a wide variety of everyday items including: household cleaners, air fresheners, cosmetics, canned foods, and school supplies. These endocrine disruptors can cause the early onset of puberty. [2]
Updating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is crucial to the health of our kids because, currently TSCA lacks a requirement that chemicals be tested to assess their ability to disrupt hormones.  This means that many of the chemicals we encounter every day have never been tested for safety.  In fact, since the passage of TSCA in 1976, the EPA has required testing of less than 1 percent of the chemicals in commerce!
The TSCA update would require chemical manufacturers to provide basic health and safety information for all chemicals as a condition for staying in or entering the marketplace. It would also, for the first time, make that information public. [3]

Take Action Now by sending a letter to your Congress person by clicking this link. It’s easy, takes a couple of seconds and will greatly impact the lives of girls.

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Experience Irrelevant

When Ainsley was younger, I suppose I was more naive and optimistic about my powers as a parent. Now that she’s nearing nine, I have the benefit of getting used to the idea of my own powerlessness.

Of course, I have a great deal of influence in her life and over activities she participates in, media she’s exposed to, that sort of thing.

But, there is a great deal about her self and her life that I am ultimately powerless over. It’s like when your baby is born and you’d always intended to have a blond baby and out she comes sporting bold black or red hair. For some reason, you weren’t expecting it and don’t really know how to respond.

I find in myself, and in conversations with other mothers online and off, that a lot of what we hold to be true as mothers is framed in our own personal experience as girls.

For instance, I got my period when I was 12, had to beg for a bra so I wouldn’t be the only 7th grader in the locker room without one. That was also the year I began shaving my legs, wearing make-up, pierced my ears, curled my hair and was devastated because I wasn’t allowed Liz Claiborne perfume and a Guess watch. Being 12 was HUGE in my own personal coming-of-age experience.

Yet, a generation later, girls mature faster. Lots of things go faster, change faster, develop faster. Cursive may, in fact, be obsolete as my 8-year-old just bought her own pink 7″ mini computer money she’s saved.

Puberty is happening faster in white girls by several years. As a mother, it has taken some getting used to that idea. We don’t know why. Scientists, doctors, researchers don’t know why. I’ve researched and reported on it a lot on The Girl Revolution, mainly in an attempt to understand how to prevent this from happening to MY child. Yet, all the sudden – as I come face to face with the reality, some things don’t seem to be relevant anymore.

What happened when we were girls – personally or collectively – is irrelevant.

As a group, generally girls want to stay inside the norm. If the norm changes, but you keep up with it, you’ll probably make out okay. So, if you’re the ONLY kid in your class who doesn’t develop a few years earlier this generation that is probably the occurrence that will be emotionally and socially damaging. To develop earlier than your mother, but at the same rate as the other kids in your age-range, will be the most comforting pace for most girls. Why should SHE care when YOU got boobs?

I wasn’t allowed to have a phone in my room. There was altogether too much privacy in that idea. Yet, I’m probably going to give Ainsley a cell line within the next several months. It makes sense TODAY.

Frankly, I didn’t expect this yet. But, I have yet to make any headway in stopping it, holding it off or reversing it. Some things, I’ve accepted, are beyond my control. One can eradicate BPAs from the home, eliminate hormones in milk, reduce exposure to media, visit physicians, and pray a lot and still, one must surrender to the fact that parents don’t control their children’s physical development.

It really is irrelevant that I didn’t need a bra till I was 12, that I didn’t start my period until after 6th grade, that I didn’t use deodorant or shave my legs until 7th grade. It really doesn’t make any difference to HER experience. I’m positive my parents made these decisions based on the culture we lived in – a predominantly Mormon one, in which this was also the timing of most of the other kids.

What matters in her experience is what other kids are doing now, what is safe and healthy, what she’s emotionally ready for, what the desires of her heart are and what is currently socially acceptable today.

This is her life. Her development and her experience. My job is not to determine the timing of the experience. My job is to support her through whatever her experience turns out to be. My job is the same as every generation of mothers and only the timing is different – to pass on Feminine Wisdom.

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