My daughter walks towards me after school holding her lacrosse stick, wearing shorts that are too short. I hardly recognize her. She will be 13 in a few days, and from afar, she looks like a 25-year-old woman.
She’s tall. Her legs are over half her body, and her breasts are bigger than mine. She tries to hide them under sweatshirts, and at least once every few months, she utters under her breath, “Mom, I need new bras…again.”
We can now share clothes and shoes (which we love), but I feel her frustration. I know why she wears the baggy sweatshirts and tugs at her tops.
I was an early developer too. At the age of thirteen, when all my friends were rail thin and could eat whatever they wanted, I had so-called “child bearing hips,” and almost a D cup. I was the first of my friends to start my period when I was 11, and would never go anywhere after school or for the night while I was menstruating until my friends shared this experience. I specifically remember one friend laughing at me while I was trying to adjust myself from being poked by my underwire bra. “There’s so much bra there. What is that?” she asked while we were changing for gym class.
I constantly felt like a giant, wondering if I’d ever grow into my body. I was uncomfortable and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s I felt like I “blended in” with everyone else.
As I watch my daughter walk towards me, I recognize her self-conscious stride. People look at her, and they stare — and not just kids; adults stare too. As a teen, I remember the comments would come in fast and furious about my blossoming body. My friends would say stuff about my budding breasts. Boys would constantly ask me if they could see them or feel them. Adults would say things like, “Is that all you?” when I’d walk into a room.
The whispers to my parents about how I developed early, and looked so much older than I was, made me somehow feel ashamed. And that’s not what I want for my daughter.
I know she’s developed earlier than most — it’s her genes. She has a mom who developed early, as did my mother. I can tell her over and over again to embrace her beautiful body. I’ve let her know that she won’t always be the only girl in her class who wears a C cup. I’ve told her not to put up with rude comments from anyone, that her body is hers and hers alone.
She’s also aware she’s developed early. After all, it’s her body. So why people still feel the need to comment about it, as if I don’t know, and she doesn’t know this already, is something I can’t wrap my mind around.
People say things like, “Wow, she developed early, huh?” and “Boy, you are going to have to keep an eye on that one” and “She really fills out that shirt.”
It baffles me that people think it’s okay to blurt out comments about anyone’s body, ever, much less a teenage girl who is trying to accept herself with all the rapid changes that are happening in her life. We all know how tough that job is when people aren’t constantly analyzing you.
Let’s all agree comments about someone’s body (especially a developing child’s) should be off limits. Keep it to yourself — they know what their body and face look like, and so do their parents.
So please, keep shut your trap — or some day you might find a foot developing up your ass.