Puberty is when your body changes from being a kid to being an adult. As Arabs we aren’t really taught anything about our bodies. We are taught that our bodies are holy and should be kept away from everyone- even us. That it’s shameful for others to know about the changes that occur. As a generation of kids and teens who grew up watching TV, we see that in every American TV show or movie that’s about coming of age, once a kid hits puberty their parents sit them down and talk to them about the changes that are happening or will be happening. But how many of us can say that they have actually had a sit down with their parents and talked about puberty?
Women have to deal with severe change after hitting puberty. Other than getting their periods and and having to deal with random growth spurts. We also have to deal with a sudden change in treatment. All of a sudden we can’t show skin- the shorts you were wearing last week are never to be seen again. We can’t hang out with boys- that awkward phase were boys and girls couldn’t be invited to one another’s birthday parties. Ever since girls hit puberty we are constantly told to act in a certain way. We are told to cover up and to show less skin unless we want to be labeled as sluts, we are told to be quiet and to stay docile, we are told that girls who fight back are tomboys and are manly and that girls who don’t fight back are weak and easy. The change after puberty is gradual, but once it is in effect there is no going back.
Guys don’t really have to deal with that much change. The clothes they were wearing last week they can still wear it 1 year from now, and the people they were hanging out with two days ago they can go out almost every week with them. People think they’re mature and badass when they land themselves a girlfriend. They’re not judged or perceived as sluts or whores when they lose their virginity before marriage. Guys don’t understand how privileged they are when it comes to the changes that happen during and after puberty. And due to guys not getting much of a sex talk either, they’re told to go off based on instinct. Yes, they’re told to respect girls and treat us with dignity, but they’re also taught that girls who show skin are sluts and girls who fight back are manly and that any girl who doesn’t do either of those things is easy.
So what is it? Are we human beings that should be respected or are we just labels for you to do whatever you want with us?
But despite that boys have a lot of social pressure to be the ideal masculine tough guy. They’re told that they can’t cry anymore because they’re adults now they aren’t kids anymore. They are told that a desirable guy is a guy who has muscles, tall, and is somewhat smart. They are pressured to fit into a mold that, for most of them, just doesn’t fit. They are taught to please the people around them and to satisfy their societal roles, before attending to themselves. A guy who cries, shares his feelings, is honest and is compassionate is the definition of weak and fragile. A guy who is strong, a hardass, cold and is an overall grade A asshole is the one that all the girls want and the one who makes his parents proud.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or a boy. All teens suffer when it comes to puberty. We suffer due to naivety when it comes to the changes in our bodies. We suffer due to the aftermath of that naivety. We have so many expectations and social pressures to be able to fit in, but at what price does fitting in cost? At what price does making people proud and happy while you suffer silently cost? Emotions all over the place- we can’t make up our minds and we wear our hearts on our sleeves. But what do our emotions mean? Where are they coming from? Why do they affect us tremendously? Don’t know? Well, me neither. I don’t know half of the true meaning behind my thoughts and emotions. Is it related to puberty or is it actually my true feelings? I don’t know and I suffer due to my ignorance.
As parents you shouldn’t let your kid wander on the internet in search of an explanation behind what’s going on in their bodies. You should take the responsibility of being the person who educates them and teaches them about how to take care of themselves in that tough and emotionally damaging period of time.
We all experience puberty differently, but how do we know or acknowledge that fact if we barely scrape the surface? Sex talks are more than learning about how many sex chromosomes you have and knowing what your anatomy is. It is definitely more than that awkward 20 minute sex ed lesson where you barely learn anything cause you’re busy acting grossed out so you don’t seem like a pervert. Puberty is a crucial moment in our lives and in order to move on we need to be able to understand why.