The P Word (Puberty)
Throughout Middle School, puberty was the most complex and uncomfortable topic to talk about with my friends; I had friends who were well below five feet and others who towered over me at a whopping 6’2.
While I didn’t hit puberty ahead of most of my friends, I was always considered tall for my age. Even though I was taller and beginning to develop, I often empathized with the kids who were short and prepubescent. Although we were too young to have deep conversations about our experiences with puberty, many of the early bloomers would often criticize late bloomers by making fun of their lack of height, pubic/armpit hair, and the size of their penis.
When I first began puberty, I would come home from school feeling very insecure about my body. Eventually, however, I realized that the kids who were making comments about my body were also incredibly uncomfortable in their own bodies. Since it was “taboo” to talk about the forbidden p word, puberty, this stage in our lives became a constant comparison between kids to see what their experiences were like.
As a kid who grew wide faster than I grew vertical, a lot of my insecurities stemmed from my puffy nipples and large love handles in comparison to the kids at school who appeared to be comfortable in all of their clothes. Not only was I insecure about my looks, but I became insecure about things like when guys would come into school claiming that their erections were the size of their arms.
At the time, I did not have many deep conversations with my friends on the topic because I did not have many close friends who I was comfortable opening up about puberty.,While having a sleepover with a boy from school one night in middle school, my friend asked me if I ever felt uncomfortable with the comments kids would make about their erections. It was at this moment thatI realized he also felt insecure about his body and the changes he was encountering. After this conversation, I understood that kids make comments about others' bodies when they feel unconfident with their own.
Throughout middle school, being labelled or categorized as certain things such as tall, fat, handsome, or ugly made me realize that everyone deals with their own insecurities no matter what they look like. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that no one is physically perfect and that it is important to feel confident in yourself even if your biceps are not the biggest, your face is not “perfectly symmetrical”, or you lack a beach body six pack.