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Monday, April 2, 2012

139

Early Developers

Social problems don’t just increase the risk for early puberty; early puberty increases the risk for social problems as well. We know that girls who develop ahead of their peers tend to have lower self-esteem, more depression and more eating disorders. They start drinking and lose their virginity sooner. They have more sexual partners and more sexually transmitted diseases. “You can almost predict it” — that early maturing teenagers will take part in more high-risk behaviors, says Tonya Chaffee, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco.

In case you missed it, this past weekend's New York Times Magazine's long-read tackles the increasing phenomenon of early puberty in girls. It's interesting and nerve-wracking aaand makes you want a drink. Good morning!

Elsewhere in children's ages: cuteness wanes at 4.6.



139 Comments / Post A Comment

Dorothea

favorite part of article: When Herman-Giddens published these numbers, in 1997 in Pediatrics, she set off a social and endocrinological firestorm. “I had no idea it would be so huge,” Herman-Giddens told me recently. “The Lolita syndrome” — the prurient fascination with the sexuality of young girls — “created a lot of emotional interest. As a feminist, I wish it didn’t.”

least favorite part: the name "ainsley" (sounds like: pain, paisley, angst)

Ophelia

@blahstudent "Ainsley" will forever remind me of Ainsley Hayes, the token conservative from the West Wing.

hallelujah

@Ophelia Yep. Although I can bring just about anything in this universe back to the West Wing in some way.

ilikemints

@blahstudent Her mom's name is Tracee. See also: the cuteness article mentions a little girl named Orli.

OH, PEOPLE.

Interrobanged

@hallelujah I've been re-watching The West Wing for my favourite CJ moments. She should have gotten her own spin-off where she was just super awesome, all the time.

Gertrude

@Interrobanged I just had a YouTube marathon of my favorite CJ speeches. She is my hero.

Interrobanged

@Gertrude C.J.: No, no. Well, I've got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist Harvard fascist missed-the-deans-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass!
Josh: Feel better getting that off your chest there, C.J.?
C.J.: I'm a whole new woman.
Josh: You look like a million bucks, by the way.
C.J.: Don't try to make up with me.

Ophelia

I also love love love that her code name is "Flamingo."

hallelujah

@Interrobanged YES. I've mentioned this before, but a WWCJD tattoo is definitely in my future. Possibly alongside a flamingo.

Ophelia

@hallelujah Also, whenever one of us goes to the dentist, my husband and I spend the rest of the day walking around saying, 'I had a woot canaw! WOOT CANAW!"

(neither of us has ever had a root canal)

bowtiesarecool

@Interrobanged Any West Wing marathon in my house ultimately turns into a greatest-moments-of-CJ marathon. I once worked with a girl who had started a fan club in college, and attended tapings whenever they were on location in DC, and presented Allison Janney with a flamingo lamp. *swoon*

Welp, any evening plans I might've had for tonight are now shot. West Wing it is.

stonefruit

@ilikemints well, no, because Orli is a fairly common Israeli name.

Ellie

@stonefruit I logged on to add that but then saw you already had.

Alcohol Magurthy

@Ophelia Whenever my boyfriend is making a mess, or when one of my actors (I stage manage a bit) is being reckless with a breakable prop, I always end up saying "Twy vewy hawd not to destwoy us." No one ever gets it, to my eternal disappointment.

you're a kitty!

@Interrobanged YES my favorite thing may be the way she sometimes starts laughing half-way through her own joke. That's basically impossible to write, and to act, and yet it's such an incredible little piece of character.

UGH THE WEST WING WHY WAS IT THE BEST

Xanthophyllippa

@Alcohol Magurthy I would not only totally get this but would fall over laughing.

gigglefest

I'm all for scientific studies... but newspaper reporting on them often reads along the lines of: "This is absolute fact! There's no need for us to discuss method or sample size!"

It's frustrating. I would really love to know who the hell thought that looking at the deviancy of fathers in correlation with precocious puberty was a good idea. Seriously, where did that come from. I can imagine some really vaguely racist connection to that other study--the percentages of Black and Latino girls going into early puberty just ~happens~ to be a lot higher than the White or Asian girls.

Can we please maybe look at systemic racial differences -- which often are actually CLASS differences, and lead to things like unequal access to chemical-free living environment and *organic food* and other crap? Please?! Ugh.

Daisy Razor

@gigglefest I like to sing "Correlation is not causation" at my computer screen whenever I read an article that jumps to wild conclusions based on a single, shaky study. Which is, you know, pretty much every time.

Judith Slutler

@Daisy Razor What tune do you sing it to?

redheaded&crazy

@gigglefest oh man the interplay of class and race - what a loaded topic. I'm not even going to comment for fear of saying something inappropriate - surely there are studies looking into this though?

Exene

@Emmanuelle Cunt Soul Coughing "Supra Genius"

gigglefest

@redheaded&crazie Yaaah, I know it's a loaded topic. But it's something we all have to deal with eventually, so don't be afraid to comment! :)

Race/Class(/and Gender) intersections are basically the premise of the entire field of modern sociology, and as a former-science-person-turned-sociologist, the lack of integration between the two fields always grates on me.

@Daisy Razor, I love that! And from now on I shall release my anger through singing!

Daisy Razor

@Exene Got it in one!

redheaded&crazy

@gigglefest this is somewhat off-topic but speaking of class/gender intersection it kind of infuriates me that women have this monthly unavoidable expense and how it's probably a struggle for a single mother with not necessarily a lot of spare change to *have* to spend money on tampons/pads/what have you, like there's really no option. I hope that it's subsidized by the government in some way.

no way

@redheaded&crazie Is this where we all jump in to proselytize for our menstrual cups? Remove the monthly burden! Come in to the light!! The cup saves (you money every month)!

redheaded&crazy

@no way I think so! But I know people get tired of that so I try to keep it on the DL even though it is clearly the Better and Cheaper way. I think you have to find the cup on your own, like Scientology thetas or something.

Xanthophyllippa

@gigglefest I used to have my students do a research paper wherein they find some popular news report of a scientific study, then trace it back to the original publication by the researchers, then analyze the differences between the two: what gets left out? What gets twisted into a different meaning? What were the researchers trying to do, and what did the news tell us they were trying to do? It's a pretty cool exercise.

missedconnections

Is it a little odd that the article uses full names of the child and mom? I would be mortified if I were that little girl.

themmases

@missedconnections Yeah, I stopped reading after about a page because I felt too bad for that kid and guilty for adding to it by reading about her body.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@missedconnections ...especially considering the "anonymous" faceless pics?

atipofthehat

In other news, scientists agree that males mature sexually at no time during their lives.

Slutface

I got my period when I was 12. I grabbed a maxipad from my mothers bedroom, walked out into the kitchen where my mom and sister were eating lunch, yelled "RAG TIME!!!" and started dancing the Charleston.

Judith Slutler

@Slutface Coolest 12-year-old ever? I think so.

@Slutface You win at life, the universe, and everything.

nonvolleyball

@Slutface I've told this story before, but I will never stop telling it.

my dad, upon learning that his only child had gotten her first period, turned to me at the dinner table & said, "now you'd better stop having sex, because you might get pregnant."

mortifying at 11, but hi-LAR-ious now.

atipofthehat

@nonvolleyball

Dads!

anachronistique

"Some of this may stem from the same social stresses that contribute to early puberty in the first place, and some of it may stem from other factors, including the common nightmare of adolescence: being different."

This news flash brought to you by the No Shit Sherlock Institute.

cc
cc

aww, i got all excited by the title and the pic of the girl and i was like OMG LETS HEAR ABOUT LITTLE GIRL PROGRAMMERS!

cc
cc

@cc can hairpin do an article on girl children who program? that would make me so happy.

Jenny Cox

Ugh. I want to death-laser-stink-eye any adult who tries to make a young girl feel bad about developing early. Buy her the Nala swimsuit, tell her how pads and tampons work, and continue treating her like the child she is!

SarahP

@jenny_ I get how this could be a serious issue and must scare parents a little, but I AGREE WITH YOU. Tracee, the mom in the article, has heard from more than one doctor that her daughter's normal, just going through early puberty--so let the girl get on with her life, instead of dragging her from doctor to doctor and making her sit through interviews with NYT journalists.

Pre-adolescence is filled with enough self- and peer-induced shame, embarrassment, and awkwardness, why add more?

teaandcakeordeath

@SarahP
Yeah, I feel stupid commenting as I dont know what I would do if I was in Tracees position but her actions seem kinda terrifying for a kid. Just diagnosing her is only half the issue. Explain the mechanics and then let her be!

suzabellajones

@SarahP @teaandcakeordeath YES! So with you. It is scary if BPA and whatnot are changing human development, but the mother's attitude was also scary, especially when the article said the daughter was not into the doctor's visits. I don't know tons about child development, but the girl's development didn't sound like it would be THAT noticeable, so maybe better left alone instead of making her feel like a freak.

Megasus

I got boobs earlier than everyone else, but other than getting teased about it, none of this other stuff happened.

EpWs

@Megan Patterson@facebook Are you SURE you didn't start drinking, smoking, and having deviant sex immediately?

Ophelia

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Clearly she didn't read this study for instructions.

Megasus

@Ophelia Sure didn't!

mouthalmighty

@Megan Patterson@facebook: Right? I got my boobs around 8/9 and my period at 10. I got teased and sexually harassed (by teenage boys, of course, they are simultaneously the best and worst of humanity) but also my mom said various things like, "Don't freak out." and "Let's get you a bra." and "Here's a pad." Then we moved the fuck on because being a woman is not new.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@mouthalmighty "best"? Does not compute.

SarahP

I was the latest developer of all the girls I know. When I was lying to friends about "totally having cramps," I would have cried (more) if I had known that kids half my age were getting breasts/periods and I STILL WAS NOT.

Cat named Virtute

@SarahP Me too! No period til I was nearly 14, and no curves til I was nearly 16.

samafaye

@SarahP same here. when girls would ask if anyone had a tampon in the locker room, i would awkwardly pretend to look and appear shocked when i came up with nothing. does getting your period at 16 mean i get to die before going through menopause?

ormaisonogrande

@SarahP oh hi latebloomers! I got mine the month I turned 15 and was the latest one of all my friends by over a year. So much angst. So much being ironically pissed off when it turned out that it kind of sucks to get your period.

datalass

@ormaisonogrande I got mine the summer I turned 14, but then didn't get another for about a year. I was twice relieved: I could stop lying about having gotten it but then got a year long reprieve.

somethingobscure

@SarahP I was 14 when I got it, but pretty much all of my friends were late bloomers -- coincidentally, deviant sex/drugs/drinking isn't very popular among nerds, dorks, and those who still play with American Girl dolls in 7th grade. Thanks, science!

I was never envious of other girls who were more "mature"; I was actually in denial when I finally started my period. No joke, I thought I just had diarrhea so I stayed home from school. I couldn't figure out why I had to keep changing my underwear. WORST DIARRHEA EVER.

SarahP

@somethingobscure I was the latest-blooming nerd! When I got mine (15), I thought it might be cancer. I freaked out and didn't tell anyone, and I was so relieved it went away 3 days later.

A month later, it was back. And I realized what it was and felt stupid.

frigwiggin

@SarahP I still haven't gotten breasts. (Fortunately, I was never really waiting for them.)

Better to Eat You With

@SarahP I had one period when I was fifteen and didn't have another for a year. I thought I was completely defective or carrying the second coming.

Verity

@somethingobscure I thought that as well, and it was terrifying. (In my defence, all I can remember being told about a first period is "it will probably be lighter than your later ones", not "your knickers will be completely covered in brown dried blood, and it will not be immediately obvious what it is".) I didn't tell my mum for a few days because I was embarrassed. (I was 11.)

somethingobscure

@Verity For some reason I expected it to be similar to peeing, in sensation, like a constant bloody stream. So as you can imagine, I was pretty suspicious of tampons -- I thought they worked like a cork, stopping up the flow. And pads, well, as diapery as they are, I thought they'd have to be extremely diapery to withstand the mississippi river rivaling current of menstrual discharge. I was pretty well misinformed.

@SarahP you thought it was cancer!? You poor thing. Did you ever see the movie My Girl? She thinks she has hemorrhoids that she caught at a truck stop bathroom or something.

fondue with cheddar

@somethingobscure One time I was at my cousin's house and we were on my aunt's bed in our pajamas doing somersaults (no adults were present, obvs.) When she rolled over, I saw a brown stain on her underwear and started singing, "Heather pooped her paaa-aants! Heather pooped her paaa-aants!" It was decades later when I remembered that moment and realized it probably wasn't poop. I guess she was too embarrassed to tell me the truth (though really, isn't pooping your pants MORE embarrassing?)

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@SarahP et al I got mine like a week after I turned 14. That sounds so late now, but I remember feeling only slightly hormonal(ly?) retarded in comparison to my peers.

@somethingobscure I also thought I had pooped my pants overnight somehow. But then when I wiped it was coming up brownish-red instead of dark brown and I figured it out. Also this was the morning after attending a ten-girl sleepover, so I was, um... panicked, let's say.

My first period was 13 years ago and I still have never had a regular cycle unless on the pill (and even then, "regular" is like... you will probably get your period at some point between starting the sugar pill week and starting the next pack). I came off the pill in September when the one that worked for me was no longer covered. I have had two periods between then and now. THANKS A LOT PCOS/SHITTY BODY.

Verity

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Same here - I've been having them for nearly 11 years now, and they never settled down to a regular cycle. Hence why I have been on the Pill for the last few years. It's so nice to actually know when they're due rather than being afraid they're about to start all the time.

Xanthophyllippa

@Verity Are you me? Because this is how I did it (wrong), too. Except that I was 13.

Interrobanged

Memories! I refused to have some sort of moon goddess woman-bonding talk with my mom, and just when on the Health Canada site to figure my shit out.

TheLetterL

@Interrobanged This was me! Only it was home medical guides, since we did not have the internet. After tossing aside "What's Happening to my Body?" as trash, thirteen-year-old me learned a lot about life and love from the AMA.

sparrow303

My mom got her period at 8, so back in the 3rd grade she made me carry a zip-up pencil case full of ENORMOUS pads to school, "just in case". Kids were always seeing it in my desk or my bag and asking me what was in there because it was so stuffed full.

And then I didn't get my period until I was 12. But at least I was prepared! I did get massive knockers in 5th grade though, much to my chagrin (until I was 15, and then I was like, "Wait, this is a good thing?").

swirrlygrrl

@fishiefishfish After reading the article, I have yet another reason to curse my relatively early giant boob development (10) and period (11). I COULD HAVE BEEN TALLER!!

Verity

@swirrlygrrl Yes! I read something the other day that mentioned that girls don't generally grow much taller after their first period. I started mine at 11 and had breasts when I was about 9 (E cup by the time I was 14, woo). And my 11-year-old self wasn't exactly tall. Damn you, uterus!

fondue with cheddar

@fishiefishfish Oh man, I was such a late bloomer in the boob department. I remember being SO ENVIOUS of other girls in middle school and freshman year of high school. Then all of a sudden, BA-BOOM! They really made up for lost time.

Hellcat

@Verity Hmmm, now I wonder how tall I was when I got mine at 14... though I know I wasn't this height because now, at 41, my driver's license still says 5'3" (which I guess I was at 17) even though I am 5'4" now! Give me that inch, DMV; it's been two decades that I have been asking! And I didn't get any damn curves anywhere until about five years ago. Late bloomer, indeed.

snuffleupagus

@fishiefishfish Bless your mother for being prepared. Mine acted like she was angry with me when I got my period at 12 and I had to ask her (in a super awkward teenage way) for real bras and a razor, and had to sneak out to buy them myself when she said no. Ridiculous.

sparrow303

@snuffleupagus In retrospect it was a good thing; when it finally happened I knew exactly what to do. In contrast, when my mom got hers at age 8, nobody had ever told her about periods before, and she thought she was dying for several days before she got enough courage to tell her mother.

I never did get taller after my first one either! Weirded out. The boobs, though, cannot be stopped. I was exactly the size I am now when I was 12... except my Ds were then Cs. Very awkward on a kid!

Verity

@fishiefishfish Same here - I don't think I grew more than an inch or two after I had my first period at 11 (I'm only 5ft), but my boobs just kept growing. (Currently an H-cup; I hope they've stopped.)

Xanthophyllippa

@jen325 Also a late bloomer. But I didn't care much, and besides, all the really mean girls were flat - totally flat, like the proverbial board - so they had no room to tease.

fondue with cheddar

@Xanthophyllippa That's lucky. The mean girls in my school mostly had boobs. The one who was meanest to me was also very petite like me, and she had huge ones. Like if you saw her proportions on an adult you would think they were fake. Maybe it was smallest-girl jealousy? Or it was just because we rode the same school bus and I was easy to pick on.

Hellcat

@jen325 This is just a crazy thing... like, in hindsight, we know that it's absolutely not abnormal in any way for a 13-year-old girl to have no boobs whatsoever. Yet some of us that didn't were harassed about this, even while other girls were taunted for the exact opposite at the same age, and everyone wished they had the opposite thing, except (seemingly at least) the "popular" girls...

I don't know what it is I am trying to say other than there was just no winning at being a pubescent girl! Oh, I am so glad I am way done with all that!

fondue with cheddar

@Hellcat You're right, you can't win! I'd bet even the popular girls are self-conscious. They may not teased about anything, but they might live in fear that that could change.

MerelyGoodExpectations

Jeez! Can't we all go back to the halcyon days of getting our periods on the first day of middle school? Worked for me!*

("worked" in this case = "scarred for life," but whatevs.)

EpWs

@MerelyGoodExpectations Oh god, periods in middle school=the worst. I didn't get the whole tampon thing working until well into high school and I didn't go on birth control until I was 17 and I had GODAWFUL periods, so I distinctly remember bleeding through pads, sitting in the bathroom crying because I was in so much pain, and generally feeling terrible for a week every month. Hooray for tampons, hormonal birth control, and surviving middle school.

themmases

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Ugh, middle school periods were the worst! I think I've read that they really do tend to be more painful for younger girls, too?

I remember missing my bff's last school lunch evah! before she moved away in 8th grade because my cramps were so bad I couldn't walk down the hall from the bathroom to the nurse (about 30 feet) without stopping to rest/wait for my vision to return.

EpWs

@themmases Somehow read that as "walk down the hall from the bathroom to nurse" and I was a wee bit confused. (I got my period this morning and it haaaaaaaates me and is apparently fucking with my brain.) But yes, middle school periods! They suck!

themmases

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Haha, middle school, it was the worst! Teaghan Ainslee had colic the entire 8th grade spring semester!

EpWs

@themmases I think you misspelled Aynsley

MerelyGoodExpectations

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Truth. I had massive paranoia about bleeding through pads. "I want the black jeans, Mom." "But you already have three pa-" "They have to be black. Seriously."

themmases

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I think you mean I came up with a more special and unique spelling of Aeynsleigh

EpWs

@themmases There it is. (Mentally pronouncing that as AINE-slay)

ilikemints

Vaguely related: Nancy Wheeler- lying bitch or insecure yet well meaning bff?

TyrannosaurusWreck

Ok, so. If you go to the website, which is mentioned by name in the article, the latest entry mentions that "We chose not to have Ainsley’s face appear in the photographs because we couldn’t really determine the consequences of that." But at the top of the website are pictures, SO MANY PICTURES, from her flickr account of her daughter. I don't... I just... what.

Ophelia

@TyrannosaurusWreck Someday, Ainsley and Bea (with the horrible mother in Vogue) are going to get together and exact revenge on their parents.

Mrs. Coach McGuirk

@TyrannosaurusWreck OMG facepalm. Those pictures don't make her look extra mature or anything. She is wearing heels and making sexy camera faces!

fondue with cheddar

@Mrs. Coach McGuirk !!!

Bebe

Oh man, flashbacks. I went from getting teased in grade school for being one of the chubbier girls, to coming home in tears in 6th grade asking my mom what "T and A" meant because the older boys had said that to me when I walked by. I kind of just want to have a commune where these little girls can live in a supportive environment until their emotions/brains catch up with their bodies and NO MEAN BOYS ALLOWED!

EpWs

@Bebe My mom and I both believe strongly--STRONGLY--in gender-segregated middle schools. Just separate them for a few years so they can all get their heads straight. Thoughts?

Bebe

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I agree 100%. I think middle school is the perfect age for gender segregation. It is just such an awful age (to go through and to deal with), and it's really when that whole "boys vs girls" thing starts. The level of maturity between 6th and 8th grade is huge, and for some reason seems even more obvious when there is a gender difference as well. Plus, haven't there been studies that showed that around 6th grade is when girls stop speaking up in class because the boys are so much more demanding/louder?

My sister used to say that when her kids got to be middle school age she'd rather homeschool them than have them go through it all. Her oldest is loving 6th grade right now, though, so no need to homeschool yet, but in general, middle school sucks and something needs to change about it.

EpWs

@Bebe Absolutely. One of my best friends teaches eighth grade (and loves it!) and her stories about how boys and girls interact are...harrowing. I was straight-up terrified of everything in middle school, ESPECIALLY boys, and while I did really well academically (thanks, academic team!) I was absolutely backwards socially. Going to an all-girls middle school would still have been tough (popular girls can be just as bad as boys if you're not one of them) but it would have been something of an improvement. Middle school is SO MANY factors--dealing with yourself, dealing with others, dealing with the academics, etc.--that taking out any one of them has to help.

bowtiesarecool

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Really, if they could just ship all the boys off to some kind of quarantined island from, oh, the age of 11 to whenever it is they start understanding that Axe spray =/= shower, I think we'd be good.

Ugh. Get rid of your teenaged boys, seriously, they are revolting.

Megasus

@bowtiesarecool Ugh, if I am ever close enough to one to smell them/hear their conversation, I kind of want to just, jump in a lake.

H.E. Ladypants

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I love this idea in theory! In my (probably outlier) experience, though, I also remember middle school being the time where I had my first very close male friends. I remember a lot of cruelty during this time (I was bullied a lot.) But I also remember a lot of great guys that I played nerdy games with who were into the same nerdy books I was into- many of whom are still my friends. And as much as I remember that as being a suckful period, I also remember that as being the period when I learned that boys were people with whom I could have common interests and meaningful relationships.

Maybe that is just a yay nerd culture thing but I'd like to think it could be broader than that.

EpWs

@H.E. Ladypants I was just thinking about that, and it's a great point. Not all boys are terrible in middle school, and the shy nerdy dudes get it just as hard as the shy nerdy girls. There's no real good solution, it's just a tough time for most people.

D.@twitter

@Megan Patterson@facebook Or push the offending party into a lake...?

D.@twitter

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Me too. Middle school was THE WORST, a really confusing amalgam of different stages of development. At 12, I was still playing w/ my American Girl dolls, while friends I had known in elementary school were going on dates (at the mall, natch) and giving "head." o_O
Also, I remember kids being far more VICIOUS (I was a spectator, on the receiving end, and to my chagrin, even dabbled a little in doling it out) than at any other age.

LeafySeaDragon

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher eh - granted i only have boys, but my older son is very feminine. other boys are so freaking mean to him. the thought of him being in a all boys school is terrifying.

and i say 'feminine' in the broadest sense. when i say sensitive people always read that as feminine anyways. btu you've got your horrible obnoxious boys and then you have your sweet sensitive bookish boys.

EpWs

@LeafySeaDragon Absolutely. I would like to push the boys that are mean to your older boy into a lake.

Megasus

@D.@twitter I just want to throw the whole world into a lake, my rage is so great. That was not meant to ryhme.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I disagree! Respectfully, of course, and I definitely feel that it's a situation dependent on the individual child's needs, so if he/she would be more comfortable in a gender-segregated school, by all means, put him/her in one.

However, as awful as boys and girls can be to each other in middle school, I think separating them ends up highlighting the "otherness" of the opposite gender in a way that can be problematic. Instead of learning to see each other as people first and foremost, which I think happens through mixed-gender friendship mostly, they just see each other as broad categories. And what happens when they get to high school? Trying to interact with the opposite sex regularly for the first time in 3-4 years, with even less adult supervision? Eep.

EpWs

@MoxyCrimeFighter These are all excellent points! And I'm totally with you--it depends on the individual kid. There's no easy way to handle puberty, seriously.

fondue with cheddar

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher You're right about the popular girls! I had so much more trouble from them than the boys in middle school. Come to think of it, they were all early bloomers!

Hellcat

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Oh yes. You said this perfectly. To this day, I feel like cringing when I think about sixth through eighth grade. Sometimes (and this is so, so lame of me, I know) I feel like a crippling fear that someone, somewhere will scan old junior high photos and post them to stupid Facebook, and all the people that have probably forgotten that I was hideous will be reminded. And my BF will see ugly me and oh good god. The neuroses, they pop up in the darndest ways, I tell you.

EpWs

@Hellcat I have learned to embrace my middle-school awkward--terrible at the time, but I can win any nerd-off with ease now. To wit: large glasses for a year, too-short pants with too-big shirts tucked into them (Lands End, thanks dress code), no athletic abilities to speak of, terrible posture, loooooong braid down my back, rolling backpack, academic team, braces for a year, no boobs until high school, read a ton of fantasy books/obsessed with Lord of the Rings so talked with a lot of big words (when I talked at all), cripplingly shy, and artsy. Can't touch this. *does Hammer dance*

(I made some of my best friends on the planet in middle school, and am still friends with them to this day. I cannot explain this, but not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for it.)

Hellcat

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Aww, I bet you were cute. And take that, Katniss fangirls; Everpresent Wordsnatcher had the long braid first! And don't even think I don't wish every day that I had a rolling backpack now, lady!

Bone-skinny through no fault of my own, great big round eyes*, no boobs, braces** (oy, five years, you guys!), and let's just say my mom didn't take me shopping for clothes at Banana Republic or Benetton or even just Macy's. I do still have many of my friends from that time though, so that is pretty awesome.

* This quality has actually worked for me in adulthood. At least I hope that the people who comment on them nowadays are not secretly calling me "frog eyes" like my junior-high peers did.

** In hindsight, thank you, Mom and Dad! I am generally not a good compliment taker but the ones about my teeth make me feel like that excruciating pain was an accomplishment!

you're a kitty!

@MoxyCrimeFighter Oh man, what you said about the "otherness" problem. Also, it's not like girls are super awesome at that age, and anyone who's forgotten it needs to reread Cat's Eye.

Verity

@you're a kitty! Girls at that age are terrifying.

drlolo

Any journalist that matter of factly describes applied kinesiology as anything other than complete horse shit needs to rethink their ideas about what "neutral point of view" means.

Ophelia

@drlolo I think, in general, our newspapers need to do a better job of explaining to their staff that "journalism" does not mean simply repeating what a 3rd party thinks of itself.

SarahP

@drlolo I think I was hoping they only brought it up to show how desperate Tracee had become.

Mingus_Thurber

@drlolo I had no clue what "applied kinesiology" was until I read the bit about holding glass tubes full of sugar and whatnot, and then my brain said, "Oh, yeah. Woo bullshit."

Seriously? If you have no inkling of how science works, you should not be allowed to cross the street by yourself. "It doesn't read like her own estrogen" is . . . . . . . . . I got nothin'.

TheLetterL

@Mingus_Thurber The estrogens are coming from inside the house!

atipofthehat

@Mingus_Thurber

How about, "If you don't believe in science, don't use technology"?

"Applied Kinesiology is a scientifically discredited procedure."

Edabelle

A weird thing about that article is that it draws a correlation between difficult childhoods and early puberty, and between early puberty and lifelong depression, but not between difficult childhoods and lifelong depression, which seems, um, duh?

frigwiggin

I completely and utterly disagree with that second article, because Amandla Stenberg is a tiny little teenage angel. (She's 14? Really???)

anachronistique

@frigwiggin Girl looks like a Disney princess. I have no investment in The Hunger Games but every time Amandla's face comes up on my tumblr dash I cannot help but squeal.

TheLetterL

Did anyone else reading the first article see the phrase "early sexual debut" and picture an elaborate theatrical production? Jazz hands, costume changes, maybe a kick line? And then giggle like (an overly developed) 12-year-old?

contrary

“The emotional stuff is getting worse, too. Ainsley’s been getting super upset about little things, crying, and she doesn’t know why." Jesus Christ, lady, maybe because you're dragging her to countless doctors' offices over having some public hair. I got my period when I was 10. I turned out fine. This poor child.

Xanthophyllippa

@contrary Public hair, hee hee hee. (Sorry. But this reminded me of the time a student tried to write me a paper about "how the general public understands science," and instead wrote me a paper on "how the general pubic understands science.")

contrary

@Xanthophyllippa ugh, my stupid iPad is always autocorrecting perfectly spelled words because it thinks I don't want to use them. Just let me talk about pubic hair without interfering, apple!

sophia_h

Ugh, that book! I know everyone loves if because it makes puberty seem normal, but I swear I would not have had such a desperate competition mentality about getting my period otherwise. Remember at the end when she's thinking "ha, suck it [other girl], you're the last one to get it?" So messed up! I got mine at a perfectly normal time, a few weeks before I turned 13, but that book made me feel like I failed every single day until I finally Got It.

siniichulok

@sophia_h I didn't love it, and I was an early developer. After reading the book (at age 11, when I had already had boobs and had gotten my period), I felt like I was trapped in this awful funhouse world where I was being chased by boobs and periods and was never allowed to forget about them. I was the only one of my classmates who had either as far as I knew, and I was already being hit on by creepy adult men and older teenagers and shunned by all my suddenly former guy friends and was the object of malicious envy of most of the girls in my smallish middle school, and I couldn't understand why everyone wanted this puberty crap in the book when it obviously caused such misery IRL. And so many well-meaning adults were always foisting this book on me (and probably the other kids, at least some of whom I bet felt like you) because it was the enlightened, progressive thing to do at the time, but I was all like, "et tu, fiction? D:"

sophia_h

@siniichulok Basically, I think it's one of those things where everybody loses -- you're weird if you have it too early, you're weird if you have it too late, and nobody knows if they're in the middle. Obviously the best message is "this will be fine when it happens to you, it's normal" no matter where the person is at.

suzabellajones

Did any other shorties read this article and feel like it was really down on short stature? Like not having the opportunity to get tall is a terrible side effect of early puberty? Don't tall people die earlier?

fondue with cheddar

@suzabellajones Yes! Other than clothing issues and the fact that there aren't as many places for my fat to go, I'm fine with being short. My last boyfriend was 6'6", and it always bothered him that he never saw old people his height. I see old people my height all the time!

Xanthophyllippa

@jen325 That's because those old people who are your height started out at 6'6" and have been shrinking since they hit 35.

fondue with cheddar

@Xanthophyllippa Ha, can you imagine how twisted a person would look if they went from 6'6" to 5"0"?

you're a kitty!

I know that it's a minor point, and there are good reasons for it in this case, but it really makes me sad that the total lifetime number of sexual partners is considered a negative indicator. Sluttiness isn't inherently bad! It's just that teenagers are out there having dangerous, coercive, or otherwise awful sex that's a problem. If we'd teach kids about sexual health and respect and beat a message of ALWAYS USE MOTHERF****NG BIRTH CONTROL into their heads from middle school on up, well... I'm not winning any PTA awards, right?

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