Tag Archives: puberty

“HelloFlo”: The Viral Ad That Empowers Girls to Embrace Their Periods

“For these campers, I’m their Joan of Arc. It’s like I’m Joan, and their vag is the arc.”

These words come from the mouth of a young girl in a recent ad for HelloFlo, a new company that specializes in making menstruation as painless as possible. You can help but do a double take (did that girl seriously just say “vag”?), and that is perhaps exactly what the ad creators intended.

But neither the company nor the controversial ad were rooted in any “feminist agenda,” says HelloFlo founder Naama Bloom. The company functions by sending boxes of tampons, pads, and candy to women in alignment with their personal cycles, all for $14-18 a month.

As Bloom said in an interview with CNN, “I just wanted to talk the way women talked and the way I talk and talk the way I am teaching my daughter to talk.” But even that is remarkable. After all, how many girls really feel this way about their periods? For that matter, how many moms, teaching their daughters about menstruation, feel this way?

The onset of puberty is happening earlier and earlier for girls in the United States, a trend that does not bode well for future generations’ rates of ovarian and breast cancer. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to toxic chemicals can all affect the timing of puberty, and the increase in all three in this country has obviously contributed to an earlier onset of menstruation.

On top of that, menstruation has been a consistent point of embarrassment for girls and women, and this has unfortunately perpetuated a culture of body shame. Whenever menstruation begins, it is not something to be ashamed of nor fight against. Girls need all the information they can get to be prepared, both physically and emotionally, for this powerful rite of passage. In a way, periods are what makes the world go ’round. Right?

What’s your relationship with menstruation like? Tell us your stories in the comments section below!

Another Toll Of Childhood Obesity: Early Onset Puberty

According to a new study, girls are experiencing the onset of puberty at younger and younger ages, with an alarming rate of girls seeing breast development as young as seven. In a recent study of six to eight year old girls, 10.4% of white girls had breast development, compared to 5% in the 1997 study and 23.4% of African-American girls had beat development, compared to 15.4%. 

Although ethnicity is a known cause, there are many other factors and theories as to why we are seeing girls growing up faster. Some say it’s the media and entertainment sexualizing girls at younger ages, while others maintain it’s an environmental problem. Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), found in everything from body wash to our sofas, can mess with a body’s composition and chemicals found in plastic can produce estrogen and possibly speed up puberty as well.

But a common ground that most professionals are pointing the blame towards is the rise in childhood obesity. In multiple studies, girls who start experiencing puberty earlier on also have a a higher body mass index (BMI) than girls that start in their early teens. Since 1980, there has been a nearly 20% rise in childhood obesity in a sad way makes sense if 40 million adults are obese. 

Overweight children have higher chances of heart disease, type II diabetes and becoming obese adults.  


Photo: CC Flickr//MissPiano


No Way To Grow Taller After Puberty

Web sites for products such as "HeightGrowth" are so unbelievable that the people who wrote them must be laughing as they steal people’s money for totally worthless products.

They tell you that if you take HeightGrowth, you will continue to grow until you are as tall as you like, at any age. If that were true, we would see people who are 15 feet tall and basketball would be an entirely different sport.

Bones do not grow throughout their length. They grow from growth centers, called the epiphysis, near their ends. When a person reaches puberty, growth centers close one after the other until all the growth centers are closed forever and a person’s bones can never grow again. After that, a person can grow wider, but not taller.

Even before a person reaches puberty, the product will have absolutely no effect on growth. The ad claims that HeightGrowth is made of a special mixture of herbs and minerals, and lists 23 plants, many of them vigorous vines such as kudzu, which grows so rapidly that it covers trees and buildings all over the South, and can cross a road overnight. So when you eat kudzu vine and other rampant-growing plants, they want you to believe that you will grow like the vines. Of course this is ridiculous. Kudzu vine grows rapidly because of its genetic structure called DNA. But you cannot absorb DNA from plants or animals that you eat; it is broken down in your stomach and intestines into its nucleic acid building blocks, which have no effect on your own DNA.

The tragedy is that some people will shell out their hard earned money to someone who is making fun of them. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee, even though they recommend that you take their product for six months or more to see results. They know you will probably be too embarrassed to ask for your money back, and people who have tried to get action on similar guarantees report that their money is never returned from these scams.


A Letter of Apology to My Parents, Whom I Love and Adore

On the subject of my lamentable journey through puberty, and how it must have driven you to distraction.

Dear Mom and Dad,
I am writing to formally apologize, for all the moments (weeks? years?) of pain and misery that I might have inadvertently caused you, throughout my formative years.
I apologize, for my “taste” in clothing. I realize now that my shorts were too short, my pants sat too low on my hips and I probably didn’t need to bare my midriff quite so diligently.
And yes, Dad, I was trying to be cool, when I refused to zipper my jacket in the dead of winter. Rest assured, I have outgrown all these practices.
I apologize, for my attempts to convince myself – and our entire town – that I was an only child. I am no longer embarrassed by my younger brothers and sisters.
And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but I have given up the habit of slinking along, twenty paces behind, when we are out as a family. I am willing, nay, happy to be associated with all of you.
I apologize, for my constant bickering with my siblings (when I wasn’t trying my hardest to ignore them). I realize that they are not the annoying, sociopathic space aliens that I once thought. They are, in fact, quite wonderful.
Good job.
I apologize, for my ungoverned emotions. I know that it wasn’t easy, having your oldest child in a seemingly perpetual state of near hysteria.  
(Mom, I love you. I don’t know why the mere sight of you caused me to burst into tears, all those years ago. I think you are beautiful. Truly.)
If it is any comfort, you have indeed lived to see the day when your child has become a parent, suffering through a pair of insufferable pre-teens of her own.
I try to remain calm, when my sons pull their pants down around their hips, exposing the tops of their underwear. I think of you, Dad, as I gently point out that they look like they are still in diapers, with the crotch of their pants hanging down between their knees.
I am sanguine, when my oldest child shushes me in public, afraid that one of his peers will realize we are related. And I smile, as I raise my voice to draw even more attention.
I am trying to remember, when my sons wrestle each other to the ground, swearing like truck drivers, that most children really do make it through puberty and on to adulthood alive, with all limbs in tact.
More than anything, I am amazed to know that you did this parenting thing ten times over. That you lovingly and persistently guided an entire tribe of confused adolescents through puberty, with largely successful outcomes.
I am inspired.
And humbled.
So thank you both, for your patience and perseverance. I wouldn’t be here today, enjoying the greatest moments of my life, if it weren’t for you.
I will continue to carry the flag and keep the faith.
With all my love and affection,
Your Daughter
P.S. When can I expect to outgrow the hysteria??
Related Posts:
For more adventures in parenting pre-teens, check out, 7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Child and Parenting from the Trenches: When Mommy Misbehaves.
Recommended Reading:         

Parenting adolescents is a category unto itself. If you are on this journey now, one the following might just provide the inspiration you are looking for:       

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., and Gabor Mate, M.D.,  

Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen, by David Walsh, Ph.D., and 

Staying Connected to Your Teenager: How to Keep Them Talking to You and How to Hear What They’re Really Saying, by Michael Riera, Ph.D.


Teenager again? Too old to be young and too young to be old…

A Second Adolescence?

I was alarmed recently during my morning routine of face and skin care to discover a new outcropping of acne along my browline and around my chin. Acne was never an issue for me as a teen but suddenly as I approach my 40th birthday I am breaking out as if I were 14. What a confusing duality to have Crow’s Feet AND Acne at the same time!! How can I be breaking out like a teen, and yet I see body parts sagging as though I am an older woman?  I sighed as I began to scrub my face and pondered the many contradictions in my life in the past few months. As I approach my middle ages (yes, I refuse to admit I am probably already middle aged), I am beginning to realize that my life is a jumble of contradictions and am also beginning to realize that I am probably in a bit of an identity crisis as a result. Suddenly I feel too old to be young and too young to be old.

I was very young when I got married. I was only 20. My husband and I were a bit aimless (as most 19-20-21 year olds are) and we just kind of fell into married life. Neither of us followed a career choice really, often we made choices that put our desires and goals on the back burner because we needed to merely survive. We had our first child together when i was only 23. I was still trying to figure out how to be his wife when I became a full time mommy to my daughter. My life became my daughter (and subsequently her sister as well a couple of years later). My world literally revolved around their needs, their activities, their desires. I fell easily into the roles of wife and mother and happily i remained there for quite a long time.

As I approached my mid thirties, I began to feel a shift inside of me. I began to realize that as my girls were getting older they needed me less and less. We were doing a good job raising them…they were independent, well- adjusted and confident people. I took great pride in my role in that. And as wonderful as that felt to me, I began to realize that I was missing something…an identity of my own. My girls were growing up more and more and now that they are teens I realized I had nothing I could call mine. JUST mine. I wasn’t me, I was his wife…their mom…her/his friend. But WHO WAS I?

It sounds trite, but the last couple of years have been a journey of sorts for me and I am still a bit lost on this trip. I am looking for myself and seem unable to get a handle on who that is. I was making some choices on this search that were very out of character for me and not all of them were healthy or good choices. I guess some might say I was having a "midlife" crisis. I wouldnt necessarily argue it, but I would not simplify it that way either.

I took a child psychology class once a few years ago that explained the different identity phases a person goes through. In the course of studying this, I discovered that a person goes through not one but TWO adolescence periods. Now obviously you can only be a true adolescent once but the phases are very similar. Initially when I read this, I could not completely relate. My children were a few years younger and so was I. I wasnt there yet. But when my older daughter became a teen, it was as if I hit my "second" teen phase too.

Now maybe because my daughter was a teen that I began to experience this second adolescence.  Maybe I was envious of the future that lay ahead of her, maybe I was meloncholy for the carefree nature of life back then, maybe I missed the excitement that came from having boundless choices.  Nah….I remember my teen years.  They were angst filled, depressing at times and difficult.  Why in the world would I want to relive that?  Nevertheless, I am there.  Much like my daughter, I am pondering what the future holds for me.  Who do I want to be as my children grow up and leave the nest?  What do I want do with my life, how do I want to act?    Even as I ruminate on these questions, my body seems to have a mind of its own (much like during my teen years)…with hormonal shifts (ranging and raging emotional shifts as well…), acne breakouts, pms reminiscint of my early puberty years, irregular periods, strange food cravings and increased libido. (the one benefit to my mid life years) What cruel joke is this that I would be a petulant teen at the same time as she is?

But I do not want to be a teen again.  And I definitely do not want to be one of those women who look like they are desperately trying to hold on to their youth by getting breast implants, botox, dying their hair very blonde and dressing like her 16 year old daughter.  I would like to look refined and classy without looking middle aged.  And most importantly I want to FEEL young.  I absolutely refuse to get old in my mind.  My body may change and I might not like the physical changes but I can remain young in my spirit and mind.

So I guess I am at yet another crossroads in my life.  Unsure of what direction to go.  It’s a strange and confusing place to be here in the middle of my life pondering what I want to be when I grow up.  If I am too old to be young and too young to be old, what does that make me?  I guess it doesn’t matter, maybe I just need to hang on and enjoy the journey for now.  Maybe the joy will come from rediscovering or perhaps for the first time discovering who I really am and what I was meant to be.  In the meantime, I could do without the acne.

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