Are You Normal? Demystifying Puberty in Girls
The Eternal Question: Am I Normal?
One of the questions that most resonates in the minds of girls during puberty is, "Am I normal?". If you are a young person going through this period of change, or a parent, sibling, or friend who wants to better understand what "normal" means in this context, this article is for you.
The Wide Range of Normal
It's a mistake to think that normality implies that we must all be the same. When it comes to puberty, medical experts talk about "the wide range of normal." This means that there is a variety of experiences and development timelines that are considered normal.
Breast Development: Every Girl at Her Own Pace
For some girls, breast development might start as early as eight years old, while for others it might not start until they're fourteen. Both situations fall within the medical definition of "normal." Some girls feel excited about buying their first bra; others feel uncomfortable with the idea. And that's okay.
Changing Rooms and Social Pressure
It's common for many girls to feel the pressure to wear a bra because they see their friends doing so, especially in contexts like school changing rooms. Some girls, although they have developed, opt not to wear bras because they don't feel comfortable with them, and that's also perfectly acceptable.
More Physical Changes: Beyond Bras
In addition to breast development, other signs of puberty in girls include the growth of pubic and underarm hair, as well as the widening of the hips. These changes can start at any time between the ages of eight and fourteen.
Menstruation: Another Milestone of Variety
The first menstrual period is another significant event in a young girl's life. It can occur as early as nine years old or as late as sixteen. Both scenarios are normal.
Emotions at Play
It's completely natural for girls who experience puberty earlier than their friends to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. On the other hand, those who experience it later may feel anxious about being "behind." It's important to remember that all these feelings are normal and part of "the wide range of normal."
Whether you identify with any of these experiences or not, remember that puberty is a unique process for each individual. There is no single way to be "normal." In a future article, we will address the questions and concerns that boys may have about puberty.