We focus on making sure our kids have all of the right supplies for school:
Lined paper: CHECK!
But do they have “supplies”? *wink, wink* The essentials that every budding young lady needs on hand in case Mother Nature decides it’s time for little Susie to become a woman? Well, hypothetically speaking.
My family and I were about to get on an airplane to fly 5+ hours across the country on a direct flight to California when Aunt Flo decided to pay me a visit for the first time out of the blue. I was 12 years old and was mortified — not of the actual occurrence of getting my period but of the lack of preparedness. No pads, all changes of underwear packed away in a checked bag, and a whole day’s worth of travel ahead of us. I still hear my mom whispering to the flight attendant, “Do you have a pad? My daughter just got her period for the FIRST TIME!” And I didn’t know if I wanted to beam at my sudden realization of maturity or melt into the seat like forgotten chewed-up gum…
The moral of the story? This experience led my mom to an “Ah-ha!” moment that changed my and my sister’s pre-pubescent lives forever: “SUPPLIES” became our code name for “feminine hygiene products,” and we always had plenty on hand for ourselves and our friends throughout school and even today. Our “supplies” consist of an opaque pencil pouch filled with panty liners, pads, a change of undies, “headlight” hiders, and (eventually) tampons. Sometimes we’d throw in some chewable Tylenol once cramps became unbearable, hair ties, wet wipes, etc.
It’s a bittersweet moment realizing our little ones aren’t frozen in time, and we have to deal with it… eventually. It’s important to note that every family dynamic is perfectly unique, and depending on culture, communication style, and/or the ability to form complete thoughts while struggling existentially, we will help our children in the best way we know how. Managing this transition can be done in a diversity of ways, and “that’s your business,” as Tabitha Brown always says.
- Will you talk about it with them?
- Provide tools stealthily by stocking their bathrooms?
- Leave it to the public school system?
- Is it Daddy’s job to break the ice?
My job in writing this expose is to share some unique insights regarding puberty while offering a variety of recommendations and tools that may help your full-grown woman… I mean, pre-teen… as she/they skip off to school at summer’s end. Take from this what works for you and leave the rest.
Don’t forget, puberty is a fragile (sometimes volatile) time! Parents can foster a trustworthy relationship while earning much respect by being there for their not-so-little one(s) in the most transformative years of their life. This is done by (drumroll, please) providing the support and tools they need to survive and thrive. “It’s that simple,” says me, a non-mother who has no idea what providing support and tools even feels like because I lack the epistemic experience necessary to GET IT. But I did go through puberty. So, let’s break it down.
Whether we like it or not, the THREE Bs are imminent for our sweet little bundles of joy: boobies, body hair, and blood. These are the main signs of puberty in women that may cause our young ladies not only discomfort but maybe some confused thoughts, a little bit of embarrassment, or even a taste of empowerment. Here are some suggestions that may help you help them.
Do you remember growing little bug bites? Or were you one of the lucky ones who woke up one day with double Ds? No matter, growing little boobies is the reason why I started an entire company with my mom back in the day. Boys would tease me, and adults would POINT THEM OUT, too. While on the brink of turning 10 and self-conscious about my developing body, I searched for the perfect product to mask my newfound “accessories.” After filtering through an array of petal designs and padded bras (they all sucked), I designed and created my own product that beat them all: Boob-eez, or “headlight hiders” that make boobs easier for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. My mom helped me start this company in 2006. That being said, every young lady is unique and may require more (or less). Does she need more support? Compression? Layering pieces? Here are some of my favorite recommendations for pre-teens:
- Boob-eez “Headlight” Hiders
- Pre-teen undergarments by Yellowberry and Bleuet
- For larger busts on a young frame, try The Bra-llelujah!® bra by SPANX or a wireless shaping bra by Truekind
One day (between ages 10 and 11), I was getting a pedicure with my mom, and the salon lady said, “You’ve got some hairy legs, girl!” I never knew it was something to be ashamed of — and that’s how I felt, ashamed. After that moment, I started venting to my mom that I wanted to start shaving. She told me I was beautiful just the way I was, but I insisted. The damage was done.
Note: Be mindful of drawing attention to something that may not be bothersome to your child.
Leg hair, armpit hair, and facial hair are so, sooo normal and glamorized in most countries. Fun fact, razors began being marketed to women in America in 1915 — they’ve only been “mainstream” for a little over a century! Your great-great grandma most likely didn’t shave her legs. I bet she was gorgeous.
Back to the point, if your pre-teen has concerns and confides in you on their own, lasers and razors may not be necessary, but some minimally invasive options could help (with adult supervision, of course). If hair removal is on the table, here are some options that might help:
- Nair™ (for ages 12+)
- Plucking or tweezing
Is hair removal an absolute no-no? Try this:
- Pantyhose or tights
- Flowy pants and maxi dresses
- Confidence propaganda: Show them examples of beautiful, powerful humans with hair!
It sounds graphic, and maybe because it is! And we have to deal with it, forever and ever… well, until we hit menopause, but that’s a different story. “Bleeding is something to celebrate!” Bullsh*t. It’s messy and smells funny sometimes and can be overwhelming the first time we bleed somewhere we wouldn’t intuitively know is a normal place to bleed from. I had a friend who would ruin her undies, and she was SO EMBARRASSED. Instead of telling her parents, she would shove all of her tarnished garments into her air vent! Her mom found them years later.
The best thing we can do for women-to-be is to warn them that it will happen and to provide a time frame. On average, young ladies begin menstruating between ages 11 and 14. A recommendation is to share when it started happening to you or other females you know. Explain what to do and send them on their way with their “supplies.” You guys have both got this!
Pro Tip: Cold water and hydrogen peroxide is a non-toxic, gentle way to remove blood stains. Simply show your girl where you keep this magical antiseptic and explain what to do.
Last but not least, you’re doing great. You’ve got this. She’s going to be JUST FINE, and so are you.
About the Author
While on the brink of turning 10, Carlie Christenson was feeling insecure about her developing body. After refusing to wear a bra, and in light of stealing an array of her mom’s products, Carlie drew a picture of what would work better… and voila! Boob-eez™ nipple covers were born. Boob-eez are ultra-thin, silicone discs with an adhesive backside that keep unwanted “headlights” out of sight and out of mind. What was originally a product designed for pre-teens has become a staple underpinning for women of all ages, shapes, colors, and sizes! Carlie, CEO of Boob-eez, is not a mom but hopes to be one day.