The May 2015 issue of Psychology Today has an article entitled “Ahead of Her Time“. Dr’s Deardoff and Greenspan discuss the growing concern of young girls developing and entering puberty earlier than ever before, now at 12.5, two years sooner than in the 1970’s. According to the article, girls are showing signs of breast development as young as 7.
Here is the prevalence by race of such incidences.
African American girls: 23%
Hispanic girls: 15%
Caucasian girls: 10%
The problem with this new younger trend is that “these early developers may face unwanted sexual attention from older boys, increased pressure to take risks, and criticism for their rapidly changing bodies” (Psychology Today, May 2015, p.12). They are also more likely to:
- initiate sex early
- experiment with drugs and alcohol
- demonstrate behavioral problems
- suffer from depression or anxiety
- have eating disorders
- perform poorer in school
The article also surmises that this early development is likely from increased weight gain, early exposure to stress, and exposure to endocrine disprupting chemicals”. Wonder where these chemicals come from? They are in our food, water, plastic products, cookware, pesticides, personal care products, and as bi-products for making almost everything we use in our daily lives.
For an example of the products that contain toxic chemicals, you can check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s videos and database on toxins in our environment. Remember the 15-minute video “Why Beauty Products are Toxic & What You Can Do About It” put out by Mind Body Green? In this video taken, Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group, explains that they found toxic chemicals in the umbilical cords of newborns. Wha What?
What do Dr’s Deardoff and Greenspan recommend that we do to protect our girls emotionally? Open lines of communication early. Let them know what to expect well BEFORE it happens. This doesn’t mean we have to have “the talk” about sex but it’s important for them to understand what is happening with their bodies and that it is “normal” and they can come to us for information and support.
Let’s help our girls honor and love their bodies, not feel ashamed and scared.