TLC Book Tour: The Body Scoop for Girls (Pssst, It Ain't All Pretty)
Posted Jan 06 2010 8:45am
Yes, my mother and I had "the talk," at least once, that I can remember. The day I got my first period, my mother and my aunt set up a lounge chair in my grandmother's backyard, handed me a glass of lemonade, saying something about sitting in the sun being "good for you" and I still remember thinking that, somehow, the rest of the neighborhood knew.
"You're a woman, now."
That, along with being herded into a darkened gym with the rest of my 7th grade class, to watch someone's mother (or, older sister maybe) wrestle with a "sanitary belt" (I know, I'm old, shuddup!) was the extent of my education into womanhood -- until, I had children.
"Don't be afraid to ask mommy ANYTHING!"
[pointing down there]
"What dis called?"
Um...wait...I know this one.
Say it with me...FAIL! Then, a mom friend of mine told me about a body book for girls put out by American Girl and I immediately ran out and bought 2 copies (1 for me and 1 for the girls) and it was good -- until, I had teenagers.
As an ob-gyn specializing in adolescent care, Dr. Jennifer Ashton understands better than anyone that being a teenage girl these days is fraught with a special kind of angst. But in her practice she talks openly and nonjudgmentally to her young patients like a good friend, answering each of their questions respectfully and with candor. Now she shares this advice in a no-holds-barred guidebook, based on her passion to cut through the embarrassment that girls often feel about their changing bodies and to arm them with the knowledge they need to make smart choices. A comprehensive guide from head to toe, The Body Scoop for Girls covers the basics of puberty and beyond, including:
Breast development and nipple bumps
The decision to wait to have sex, and the benefits of waiting
The lowdown on STIs
Depression and hormone imbalances
Grooming, from hair removal to hygiene products
She had me lowering my head in shame as soon as page 13, saying:
"Unfortunately, many parents don't take their daughters to the gynecologist until the girls are about to leave for college. By then their daughters have missed the chance to learn about their bodies from an early age and to get important information and advice when they need it."
Frankly, at this point, I already envisioned the author, with her arm around my daughters, pointing her well-manicured finger at me, going:
"Bad Mommy, bad Mommy!"
Until, I read some more.
Show your parents this book and say, "Mom (or Dad) the doctor who wrote this thinks it's a great idea to wait as long as possible for sex." (Your parents will really like that)
What makes this different from other teen health books I've read (like, American Girl) is that the author "talks with" and not "to" her readers in an attempt to help us reach out beyond our comfort zones in better understanding the female body.
The author references "real girls" dealing with "real life" situations, like her patient Jodi, who had heard it from health class (even her mother) but, still wasn't totally clear on why we get periods.
"So, I gave her the CliffsNotes version."
The author goes into detail with sections like "Don't Dis Discharge" and "Everything You NEVER Wanted to Know About Genital Injuries" and -- although, a little unnerving to read, no matter what -- the author still manages NOT to sound clinical, sterile or, you know, gross.
Until, the section, "Thwart the Warts: Avoiding HPV and Genital Warts"
My two oldest girls are 16 and 14. Do they really need to know about genital warts?
"My patient Mary came to me at the ripe old age of fourteen. She'd told her mother that "her bottom hurt," so her mother brought her in."
Turns out, the kids genitals were "carpeted" with warts.
"Although Mary was still technically a virgin, she's gotten naked with her much-older boyfriend on more than one occasion, with this horrifying result."
[eyes go wide]
TMI? Perhaps. Still, the author discusses very difficult adult-like issues, like "Put Yourself First: Always Use Condoms" and "Date Rape Drugs: It Happened to Me" (yes, the author is very plain about being street smart) as well as the physical effects of cigarettes, alchol and mood disorders, or, as parents, how we sometimes fail to realize that those "grown up" years are here quicker than we think.
Which, I am very happy to learn, is ALSO normal.
The Body Scoop for Girls is filled with easy-to-read bullet(ed) lists of informative facts and misconceptions (I failed most of the true or false sections) and multi-colored food for thought boxes, like "Aren't You Glad I'm Not Your Mother" making it a quick and really easy read.
Now, that's something a teenager can relate to, right? Me, too!