IS PUBERTY MAKING MY BODY WEIRD?
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The physical changes we go through during puberty make us question everything. 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 was 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 knicker elastic is digging into your hips, but you barely even need a bra. During puberty our bodies tend to get curvier, 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 spots. Why?
We all know that the way we feel in our own skin affects our confidence. So it’s no wonder that acne can play a huge role in knocking self-esteem. But with 8 out of 10 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 really inflamed or you’re worried that 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 mum/sister/friend might have tried something they’d recommend.
You might have heard about some people being waxed or getting laser hair removal. This can be kind of painful, with side effects including redness, irritation or bruising. Ask yourself before you do it: ‘Am I doing it for me?’, or because you feel under pressure.
Why am I bigger than before?
Fat (which for the record is actually a good thing as we need it in our diet and on our body so we can function properly), muscle and bone all change during puberty, and this affect the shape of our bodies.
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 was going to be easy, but learning to accept how unique you really are, and what an incredible thing your body really is, will help to 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. Just because these smells might be more noticeable, 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.
Vaginas are perfectly tuned to keep their PH levels in balance, so we don’t advise washing inside yours. The PH relates to your vagina’s acidity level. This might sound weird, but healthy levels co-exist with good bacteria down there. So, there’s no need to reach for vaginal deodorants or perfume.
There are some great products specifically for your delicate V-Zone area (the area around your vagina as well as the V-shape front you see when you're standing in front of the mirror).
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 vajazzle).
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.