Let's Talk About Puberty
The physical changes we go through during puberty make us question everything. So let's take a closer look at these changes and how they can affect the way we feel.
If puberty were a person, what body shape would they have?
It would be great if there were a straight answer. People grow at different rates and in different places, but it can be hard to remember this when everyone on Instagram seems to look the same.
You might notice you go up a couple of bra sizes in a few months, but your jeans still fit. Or you might find your underwear elastic digging into your hips, but you barely even need a bra. This is because our bodies tend to get curvier during puberty, but how, when, and where this happens varies from person to person.
It can seem really alien when you're getting an adult body, but you still feel like a kid. And while nature will do its thing regardless, there are sports you can try that will strengthen the power your body is gaining and clothes you can wear that compliment your shape.
Boobs tend to be one of the first things to develop, with hard nipples being an early sign that they're about to sprout. Let's just say boobs certainly have a personality of their own, as one usually starts growing before the other – so a slight difference in size is totally normal.
I wash - and yet I have acne. Why?
We all know that how we feel in our skin affects our confidence. So it's no wonder acne can play a huge role in knocking self-esteem. But with most people getting it at some point, it's even more common than you think.
Hormones and genetics are a couple of reasons we might get spots on our face, chest, neck, or back during puberty. They aren't a result of us not washing properly.
If your skin is inflamed or you're worried it's taking a long time to clear up, you could visit a dermatologist, look into nutrition or speak to a doctor about possible medication.
I've got a darker mustache than my older brother
Facial hair. Leg fur. Out-of-control pubes. These are all common in puberty and beyond. So what to do about them?
Well, the answer is, whatever you want! The exciting thing about puberty is that this body will always be yours, and so you have to do what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding what to do with pubes/armpit hair/stomach fluff.
If you do want to try hair removal or a trim, it's worth giving it some thought. Your mom/sister/friend might have tried something they'd recommend.
Why am I bigger than before?
It's not always easy to embrace your changing shape, but try not to beat yourself up or restrict the food you eat. This is an important time, and you'll need to nourish your body.
See stretch marks (those tiger stripes which can appear on your calves, thighs, hips, boobs – practically anywhere) as signs of success. Our bodies are doing exactly what they should be doing.
No one said it would be easy, but learning to accept how unique you really are, and what an incredible thing your body is, will help build your self-esteem.
Can you smell something?
During puberty, our apocrine sweat glands kick in, causing us to smell different than before – especially under armpits and around the groin area. These smells might be more noticeable, but they're totally natural. And if you stick to a regular hygiene routine, they won't develop into anything bad.
Taking showers will keep you clean and feeling fresh. You'll probably want to wear underarm deodorant, especially if you're doing lots of sport.
How do I know if my clitoris and labia are normal?
Vagina anxiety is really common. That's partly because, unlike people's faces (which we see everywhere we go) we rarely come face to face with hundreds of vaginas (unless we work as a gynecologist or waxer).
While you might not have much to compare yours with, we can put your mind at rest – like faces, no two vaginas are the same. And we should celebrate the differences.
To get familiar with how you look, all you need is a mirror. The more you look at your vagina, the more familiar it will become.
Regular health checks are always a good idea. Whether it's a visit to the clinic, your GP or a gynecologist, it's a great habit to establish early on.
And remember, if you've got a question, ask someone. If you're too embarrassed to talk to your mom, sister or aunt, remind yourself that they've all been through puberty. Chances are, they remember the changes and how awkward they could feel.