iStock_000002771856Small_black girl with braidsGirls: Growing Up

As the adolescent grows up, the body begins to change in size and shape. This change starts happening from around the age of 10 or so. The change could be earlier or later. You may suddenly find that your shoes and clothes do not fit you anymore. Hairs begin to grow in the armpits and the genital areas.

At this time, you also begin to get more conscious of your body and your appearance. What do people say about my shape, colour and appearance? Am I attractive to the opposite sex? If not, why? What do I do to ‘belong’? Your skin may become oiler and attacked by pimples. Keep your face clean by frequent washing (but not too much soap), avoid fried foods like those crunchy chips and burgers. Engage in regular exercise to prevent pimples and help look your best. Because you are growing very fast, your food requirements may increase. Eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetable and milk also helps you look smart and feel fit.

These changes happen because of adjustments in the natural chemicals in the body called hormones. Boys and girls have different amounts of different hormones. This is why some of the changes that take place are different for girls and boys- for example; boys have more body and facial hair growth than girls. Let’s look at some of the changes that occur in girls.

GIRLS

As a girl grows older, her breasts begin to develop. Sometimes there might be a slight soreness or pain as the breast grow. This soon passes. You must have noticed that breasts may be round, conical, upright, sagging, soft or firm depending on age and fitness. The two breasts may not be equal in size, experts say. The tips of the breasts are called nipples. They are dark in colour and highly sensitive to touch and temperature. If the darker areas round the nipples are touched and stimulated, they become hard and seem to stand out like goose body. This is called nipple erection. This happens to both men and women. The breasts produce milk only when a woman is suckling her baby and stops when the baby rejects the mum’s milk. If there is secretion from the breasts at any other time, experts say you should consult a doctor for explanation.

Women wear bra or brassiere to support their breasts. As a girl’s breasts grow, she may need to get a different sized bra every couple of years till her breasts stop growing. Some of you may need to wear a bra earlier or later than your friends. There is nothing unusual about this. Everyone grows at a different pace.

When to wear a bra?

You know you need to wear a bra when your breasts have grown big and jiggle, flaunt or bounce as you run; when they are heavy enough to pop out of your blouse as you move about. You may feel more comfortable wearing a bra especially if you go jogging or if you are the sporty type. The rightbra for you is one that supports your breasts like a second skin. Wear a bra that is neither too tight nor too loose and preferably a cotton one. Take off your bra at night to allow for proper blood circulation so that you can breathe comfortably while asleep.

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