By: Gabriella Caponecchi
I get that puberty and awkwardness can come hand in hand — pulling out two tampons in front of your dad wouldn’t exactly put anyone at ease. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s reality and everyone goes through it at some point.
Kids would rather watch “Fifty Shades of Grey” with their parents than sit through a conversation about the uncomfortable topic of puberty, which can leave teens questioning if their body is normal and wondering what is going on down there. In these pubescent years, everyone goes through a lot of change whether it’s physically or mentally — it’s one of the few things we all have in common. So why is everyone so awkward about it?
The answer to that question is that no one wants to talk about the fact that their body isn’t going to look the same as it was when they were born. Going through puberty is a natural thing that everyone must experience. Yes, it can be terrifying knowing that you are going to have hair growing out of new places, but those frightening thoughts should be expressed.
Girls feel ashamed when their monthly friend comes to town, but why do they feel that way? Every girl deals with periods the majority of their lives. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about periods because it’s either “not lady-like” or “not polite.” Periods are natural. That’s it. And if everyone would stop making them such a big deal, by saying “ew” or “gross,” then half the woman population wouldn’t feel awkward walking to the bathroom with tampon in hand instead of tucked away under their sleeve.
Men complain about how uncomfortable they feel when you talk about the pain that comes from your period, leaving them to find periods disgusting, even though they aren’t even the ones dealing with it every month!
For boys though, I used to think it was a different story. Guys don’t care about how they look, they don’t have to be worried about growing out of clothes in just a few months, they have no worries. Or at least that’s what I thought.
The more I’ve grown up the more I’ve realized that everyone is constantly changing. Boys pray for late growth spurts, pretend no one heard their voice crack and do their best to hide acne without makeup. So let’s talk about it! Stop pretending, stop hoping against natural change, and stop the silence.
My fourth grade neighbor told me he felt that the school system failed to talk about puberty — and he’s right. The most I got out of my elementary school “health course” was to keep a small calendar in my desk to help track my period. He mentioned how he wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to his teacher if he had a problem, and even told me that “at least he has older siblings, cause he would feel way too weird to talk to [his] mom about it.”
Everyone should feel like they can talk about the natural part of life, whether it’s needing to ask the girl next to you for a tampon, or wanting to borrow axe from a friend so it doesn’t seem like you went on a 20-mile run in 100 degree heat. This awkwardness can be stemmed from the fact that everyone begins puberty at different times.
Girls begin to start change a lot sooner than guys. According to The Child Development Institute, girls on average begin puberty at the ripe age of 8, whereas boys don’t begin puberty till at least two years later. So maybe that’s where the embarrassment begins. Boys tease girls for problems they don’t have yet, making them feel alone, ashamed and weird. Maybe this period of time of boys clutching to their lingering childhood gives them the upper hand to make fun of girls and their leg hair. So while boys remain stagnant, girls are having to deal with body hair, boobs and of course the thing fifth grade girls fear most — periods.
Sadly, most young girls are too embarrassed to talk about their monthly visitor, even though periods shouldn’t be some dirty little secret. Girls become embarrassed because it’s not something they want the world to see. Yes, they make us moody, absolutely miserable and sometimes the only thing that helps is another episode of “Criminal Minds” along with a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream and a heating pad. But that’s the part where periods should still be talked about, especially so girls know why they are having horrendous cramps.
Keep in mind, some parents feel just as uneasy as you do when they are forced to sit down and talk about it, because it’s never simple. Once they begin to talk about your body changing, they feel like they have to talk about sex as well. But let’s make it easy to talk about. The next time you run out of tampons ask your dad to run to the store, or even ask your mom for condoms.
Next time I’ll be sure to strut out of my fifth hour Spanish class, tampon held to the ceiling.