Courtney Pickett stuck her face into the Doritos bag. It
wasn't because she was a freak for chips. She just didn't
want anybody else at the slumber party to see that she
clearly had no clue what they were talking about.
"Getting your period is, like, way painful," Anna Adams said.
What "period" did she mean? Surely not the kind at the end of a
"Have you gotten yours?" Kayla Cartwright said.
Anna shook her head. "No. I only just started wearing a bra a
A bra? What for? Courtney snuck a peek at Anna from over the
top of the chip bag. Holy smoke! She did have breasts. Where had those
"Yeah, well, look what I started doing." Sydney Shaw pulled
up her pajama leg and exposed her calf.
"Dude-you shave your legs?" Kayla said.
Now that could be painful.
"Armpits too," Sydney said.
Sydney shrugged as if it were no big deal, but Kayla and
Anna nodded, wide-eyed, as if Sydney had just aged five years
and yet was still gracing them with her presence.
What happened to the stuff we used to talk about at our sleepovers?
Dolls and stickers and the best way to surprise a creepy boy with a water
balloon. Since when had periods-whatever they were-and bras and body
shaving become the main topics of conversation?
"Hey," Courtney said.
Her friends managed to drag their gazes away from Sydney's
naked leg. Courtney held up a bag of Peanut M&Ms.
"Anybody want some candy?"
"No way," Anna said. "I'm feeling, like, totally fat. I'm on a
"You're a stick!" Courtney said.
"Hello! Look at this." Anna pinched at the skin at her waist.
Courtney didn't know what she was supposed to be seeing.
"I'm not having any either," Kayla said, waving off the candy
bag. "Boys don't like fat girls."
"Who cares?" Courtney wanted to say. But Sydney shook
her head at the Peanut M&Ms and patted her own rear, which
evidently explained everything to Kayla and Anna, because they
Courtney popped a handful of candy into her mouth and
wondered, What is happening here?
What indeed? Courtney consumed the entire bag of Peanut
M&Ms herself, while, far into the night, her friends discussed
cramps and bra styles and the best way to lose ten pounds in
a day. When she got home the next morning, Courtney went
straight to the full-length mirror.
Wow. It was true.
She was getting hair where she'd never had it before.
She did have little breasts budding from her chest.
Her hips were definitely wider than they had been the last
time she'd looked at them . which was when, exactly?
The truth was, she'd never spent much time gazing at her
own body. But she knew none of this stuff had ever been there
before. And what was that smell?
Courtney sniffed at her armpit and wrinkled her nose.
And this probably wasn't even the worst of it. She'd gathered
from last night's discussion-while she was sorting the M&Ms
by color-that someday soon she was going to get the dreaded
"period." She still didn't know exactly what it was, but it couldn't
be good. Not if it involved embarrassment and cramps and all the
other stuff her friends had described-based on what had been
described to them.
Courtney's reflection in the mirror blurred as tears came that
she couldn't explain. She didn't usually cry, but this was huge.
She was transforming into somebody else right before her eyes-and
she didn't know what to do about it.
You might be a little better informed than Courtney
about the changes that are happening to your body or will be
happening in the near future. But there's a lot to know about
this young woman that you're becoming, and this book is here
to help you
understand what's going on inside the little-girl body
that's changing into a mini-woman body;
learn to love it;
take super-good care of it;
avoid bullying it; and
become God-confident that it's the best body for you and
But we can't leave Courtney crying in front of the mirror
because she thinks she's turning into an alien. If you were there,
standing behind Courtney and looking at her reflection with her,
what would you say? Is there advice you'd give her? Or would you
just hand her another bag of M&Ms because you feel the same
way yourself, and you don't know what to do either?
Whatever you want to tell our Courtney, write it in the space
below. There are no right or wrong answers, so be honest. If, as
you read the rest of this book, you discover something that makes
you change your mind about how to encourage Courtney, you'll
have a chance to "talk" to her again in the last chapter.
Dear Courtney .
Here's the Deal
Take a look around at your girl classmates at school,
your Sunday school girlfriends, or your sports teammates. Do
you see any two bodies that are exactly alike? No way, because
absolutely every girl's body is different.
There's one way that they're identical, though, and that's
in the fact that between the ages of eight and thirteen, female
bodies go through more changes than at any other time in
their lives (even more than in the first year when you went from
wrinkled and chinless to dimple-kneed and adorable in just twelve
months). All girls go through puberty, when they transform from
flat-chested and smooth-as-pears to miniature women with
new hair under the arms and in the pubic area (y'know,
between your legs);
thicker, coarser hair, on the legs especially;
sweat that has a less-than-lovely odor;
wider hips; and
taller, maybe even heftier, bodies.
You may ask, "And this happens because .?"
Every female's body is designed to automatically start
producing two new hormones some time in the tween years (though
later for some girls). Those are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen
causes all of the above. Progesterone, with some help from
estrogen, causes and controls menstrual periods, which happen once a
month. More on those later.
As if it weren't enough for all that to be going on, the arrival
of these new hormones also leads to some emotional changes.
Mood swings: You've got the giggles one minute, and the next
you're crying, all for no apparent reason. Your body is suddenly a
stranger to you, and it's out of control!
Changes in your attitude about boys: Where once you were
convinced they were all possessed by demons, or at the very least
had cooties, you find yourself wanting to look cute for them. Or
you secretly enjoy it when the one least likely to actually have
coo-ties unties your tennis shoe for the forty-third time.
Whew. Isn't it good to know you're normal?
That Is So Me!
Not everybody experiences puberty at the same time in their
lives or in exactly the same way-which takes us back to the
fact that God made everyone unique. The following quiz will
show you where you are on the changing-into-a-woman journey. As
you take the quiz, remember that you aren't "behind" or "ahead" of
anybody else. You're right where YOU are supposed to be.
Which of these descriptions sounds MOST like your body right
now? Not everything will match you exactly, of course, so pick the
one that's closest.
Girl One: No hair has shown up yet in her armpits or between her
legs (pubic area). There don't appear to be any breasts in her
immediate future, and her waistline is the same as it always was. Her hips
haven't changed either. As for the hair on her legs, she doesn't really
see much. There's never anything on her underwear when she takes
her panties off.
Girl Two: She's noticed some hair sprouting in her armpits and
pubic area, and the hair on her legs has gotten thicker and coarser
than it used to be. She may or may not be wearing a bra yet, but
she does have little raised bumps or pointy little mounds that will
someday be breasts. Her waist feels kind of thick, and her hips have
spread so that sometimes she feels, well, fat. What's really different
is that when she takes off her underwear, there's sometimes thick,
clear stuff on them, or maybe a brownish stain.
Girl Three: She's had hair in her armpits and pubic area for a couple
of months or more, and she's thinking she might want to shave her
legs (if she isn't doing it already). She definitely has breasts which
are round and pretty full, and maybe the area around her nipples has
gotten darker. She actually has a real waist now, and it feels like her
hips are finally in proportion to the rest of her body. Sometimes she
discovers blood spots on her underwear; she might even be having
What does that all mean?
If you're like girl one, you haven't started puberty yet. Remember
that no matter how old you are, that's perfectly normal. Reading this
book will help you be ready when it does happen-and then you can
enjoy the fun parts more.
If you're like girl two, you're already in puberty, even though you
haven't started your period yet. This stage is where most of the
surprises happen, so reading this book can be way helpful in walking you
through those. It can even be fun.
If you're like girl three, you're well on your way to young woman-
hood. In fact, you're probably getting used to the whole idea. Keep
reading. This book will help you be the queen of your own body.
Here's the Deal
One more time, remember this: Whether you are girl
one, two, or three, you are right where you're supposed to be
right now! If other girls tease you because you need a bra about as
much as you need dentures, or because you have more curves than
a mountain road, they're showing their fears about their own
bodies. Hang in there-you'll all be mature women some day.
Every girl experiences the same changes, but they can happen
in different ways. All of these ways are perfectly normal.
Girls of different ethnic backgrounds start puberty at
different times. For instance, the average African-American
girl begins puberty just before the age of
nine. The average white girl starts right before the age
of ten. And remember, not everyone is "average."
Pubic hair comes in all different thicknesses and colors
and grows at different rates. One of the first signs of
puberty, pubic hair starts as straight, light-colored,
fine hairs and grows in stages to the final darker and
coarser curly hairs. Some of that depends on cultural
background too. Asian girls, for instance, seem to
have less pubic hair than other girls.
The "puberty growth spurt" starts at different ages for
different girls. For some girls it seems to happen in a big way, while for
others it isn't as dramatic. In this two- to four-year time period,
girls put on weight and grow taller at a faster rate (as much as
four inches a year) than before (two inches a year on average).
The growth rate slows down by the time girls have their first
period. Most girls reach their adult height one to three years after
their first period. That adds up to about nine inches during the
puberty growth spurt, but, again, some grow more and some
grow less. It's all good!
Your face will probably change some during puberty too. The
lower part gets longer and your chin juts out more. Your forehead
gets wider. You'll actually start looking more like an adult than a
kid, which is, of course, cool. Some girls' faces get sharper and
more chiseled, and others' faces get fuller and more luscious. If
it seems like your face is staying its little-girl self, that's okay too.
There is nothing wrong with having a young-looking face.
One of the most bizarre things about puberty is that the
bones in your feet start to grow before other bones. That means
your feet will reach their adult size before the rest of you does.
Since everybody won't end up being the same height, everybody's
feet aren't going to be the same size now either. Forget about
comparing shoe sizes or worrying that you're going to feel like
Ronald McDonald for the rest of your life. It will all balance out
before you stop growing.
Then, of course, there are your hips. During the growth spurt,
your pelvic bones grow, and fat grows around them-giving
you hips. They make your waist seem smaller, and when your
breasts develop-ta da!-you have curves. The thing is, there are
basically three different body types for those curves to grow into.
You're born with a body type already programmed in to develop
Endomorph: round body with soft curves and a little more
body fat (which is NOT a bad thing!)
Ectomorph: slim body with fewer curves and more angles
(not a bad thing either!)
Mesomorph: muscular body with wide shoulders and slim
hips (just as girl-like as the other body types!)
Since your body type is part of the You package you came
with, there is no reason to compare it to other girls' body types
and every reason to love it as it is. Besides, the weight spurt and
the growth spurt don't always happen at the same time. It's more
like a seesaw: for a while you're adding pounds faster than you're
adding inches; then for a while you're gaining inches faster than
you're gaining pounds. Everybody's seesaw is moving at a
different, personal rate, so there's no need to get hung up on feeling
fat or thinking you're scrawny next to your friends. As long as
you're healthy, let it be. You're growing into a specially made You.
Does it seem like your moods are always out of sync with your
friends' moods? Do you sometimes feel like letting it all hang out
in silliness, while one of your friends is stuck in a funk-or the
other way around? Many of the roller-coaster rides your moods
and feelings take during puberty are caused by the new
hormones your body is producing. Hormones are way powerful, and
they definitely affect emotions. Some girls (and some grown-up
women) are really jolted around emotionally by their hormones,
and others seem to ride right over them. It takes awhile for your
body to adjust to those hormonal changes, so hang in there, and
for heaven's sake don't think you're a total drama queen next to
your best friend who never sheds a tear. Just how your moods
bounce around-or don't bounce around-depends partly on
the way you've always reacted to the things that happen around
you. If you were born a sensitive baby, you're probably going to
be extra sensitive during puberty. If you've been a little toughie
from birth, you'll more than likely be a little short-tempered in
your puberty years-perhaps more rebellious than your weepier
friends. If you've been laid back since day one, that will probably
continue. Basically, who you are emotionally will seem to be
magnified about a jillion times.
By this time, you might be wondering what you're going
to do with all these changes. It can be confusing, weird-and
downright scary! It's a good thing you don't have to go it alone.
You've got God, who designed the whole process in the first
place. Even if you don't particularly feel like thanking God for that
right now, take a look at the help God offers:
God wants you to become a woman. And not just any
woman, but one different from all others.
God knows how strange and frustrating and often
embarrassing and sometimes even painful the process
of becoming a woman can be. God understands that it's
a big deal. He's been hearing about it forever.
God listens to you when you have complaints and doubts
and fears about this whole puberty thing. After all, God
even says there's nothing too small to pray about.