Stages Of Puberty In Girls – Do Teenage Girls Have A Problem With Their Body Image?
Life is all about change. Your little girl, whom you have played around with, will eventually grow into a young lady. As an adult, you must have remembered the awkward feeling on your body. Now you are a parent and your child is going through the same changes, so things will be a little different this time.
You must know all the different stages of changes so that you can help your child get through this phase with ease. Before beginning, let’s clear an important issue of body image which is seriously related to girl’s self-esteem:
Body Image Problems
Most often girls face pressure from their parents and peers to look attractive. The search for a good body or appearance can become problematic for her. The pressure might compel her to look skinny and thin. This happens due to factors such as natural weight gain, the wrong portrayal of media or mothers who are themselves concerned about their own health.
But there could be undesirable consequences of negative body image. These include:
- Risk of getting depression and low self-esteem.
- The negative body image can affect her nutritional habits resulting in skipping meals.
- Girls would buy starting beauty products or may even resort to cosmetic surgery.
Puberty in Girls - Tanner Stages
On the way to become young adults, teenage girls go through several changes in a predictable manner. These changes are known as Tanner stages. The name is derived from professor James M. Tanner, who was an expert in child development. He was the first to make out the stages of puberty and categorized them into five parts.
While every girl’s puberty timeline would be different, below stages gives a general outline of the changes that a girl experience. It is to be noted that these body parts do not develop simultaneously, so the growth may vary from individual to individual.
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In this pre-pubertal stage which begins around 8 years of age, there are no noticeable changes. The breast tissue is absent as well as areola (dark area around the nipple) is flat.
This stage starts at the age of 9-12. Small breast tissue or buds begin to appear and the areola grows little in size but still remains flat against the chest. The uterus starts to increase in size. Small amount of pubic hair starts to grow on the edge of the vagina. Increase in height can range between 2-3.5 inches.
In this stage which starts at the age of around 12, physical changes are more evident. Breast buds grow in size and become wider than areola while areola continues to grow but still remain flat against the chest. Pubic hair gets curlier and thicker. Hair begins to grow under the armpits and height growth rate is around 3.2 inches per year.
At around 13 years of age, breast and areola are now well-proportioned and looks different from the chest wall. Most girls would get their first period around this age, but it may also occur earlier or later. Pubic hair gets thicker and height growth rate reduces 2-3 inches per year.
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This is the final stage which begins around 15 years of age; breast reaches its full growth. This stage denotes that the girl has become a biological adult. Girls typically reach adult height after they experience their first periods. Genital organs and reproductive system are fully developed. Pubic hairs extend to the inner thighs while hips are now plump out in shape. Girl’s height will typically stop growing after 16.
Many girls also experience vaginal discharge that may induce a sense of fear. But it’s the natural way of the body to keep the vagina clean.
Still confused? Here is what you can do
When puberty hits, it can be confusing and frustrating for many girls. There are not only physical changes going on in the body but also emotional fluctuations which may cause mood swings or they might behave indifferently. Your princess might feel a little bit insecure about her bodily changes, especially vaginal discharge and periods.
You can talk to her and rest her assure that it’s a normal part of maturing. Tell her to embrace her new body. If you have any concerns, talk to your family doctor who can appropriately determine the growth of your teen.