Recently, I’ve been all about shattering social expectations and shedding stigmas – especially around puberty, periods, and all things hormones.
I started my period when I was just 9 years old, which means I started puberty at around 7.
I know what you’re thinking…and it was hard.
Body odor was an issue before I even understood what deodorant was. Hair sprouted from my armpits when I was in second grade. My first period came while I was in third grade and I remember making my mom promise not to tell my dad because I felt so embarrassed.
Thankfully, my supportive parents taught me about my body’s changes. I also read this book cover-to-cover, which wasn’t perfect, but it was a start.
While my friends were focused on normal child-friendly activities, I was consumed by a skincare routine with hopes of clearing my broken out skin. Strategizing how to sneak a pad to the bathroom so no one would see. Crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t bleed through my navy blue skort (oh, the joys of uniforms) again. Hoping that I would at least grow big boobs to offset starting so young (spoiler alert: that wish never came true).
I’m now 24 years old and completely comfortable talking about periods, but I’ve realized I’m still holding on to some of that shame I felt as a child.
Even though nearly half of our population has a period, it is still a source of shame and embarrassment for many of us. We are taught to be hush hush about it and to hide our hygiene products. Is anyone else tired of pretending that their period doesn’t exist?! I sure know I am.
This letter is dedicated to my 9-year-old self, but also to any young person going through puberty. I think we can all agree that puberty is full of uncertainty, doubt, and embarrassing stories, but it’s especially hard when still a child.
It’s also dedicated to others like me: grown adults who are still harboring pent-up emotions from that confusing and lonely time.
It is okay. You’re not alone.
Hi you. I’m here to tell you that what you’re experiencing is normal.
The smelly pits. Dark leg hair. Heavy periods. Pimply face. Mood swings. Horrendous cramps. Sexual desires. Everything you’re feeling and seeing is normal.
I know that may be hard to believe because a) it’s all new and b) as far as you can tell, you’re the only person in your 3rd grade class to be experiencing all of these changes.
You’re just a bit ahead of the curve is all, which is exciting when you think about it. Your friends will start their periods soon enough and come to you for advice. You’ll be the expert and thank the heavens you had parents who explained what puberty is.
But that doesn’t dismiss your current, real experience.
Boys in class will make fun of your leg hair. People will point out your pimples. Adults will comment how you should be a basketball player simply because you’re tall. People will tell you how “mature” you are, even though you don’t want to be.
Those boys don’t know any better because society taught them that girls should not have leg hair, ever.
Your worth is not determined by how clear your skin is. Wow, that statement just brought tears to my eyes because it’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn. (Can we all stop acne-shaming, please.)
Those adults think they’re funny and original by telling a stupid joke, even though you’ve heard it a hundred times and you actually kind of suck at basketball.
Your body may be maturing faster than those around you but you do not have to let go of your inner child – ever.
And guess what? Everyone goes through puberty and has embarrassing mishaps and uncomfortable body changes, but we don’t know how to handle it. People often try to knock others down to lift themselves up.
Which is why I want you to let it go.
I promise it will all be worth it. You will be stronger thanks to these awkward years. You’ll be kinder to others because you know it’s difficult. You’ll be inspired to help women heal their hormonal imbalances through nutrition and lifestyle.
You will get through it.
Hang in there,