What’s Happening To My Body? Book For Girls

I got my first period when I was 11. My mom had been preparing me with ominous “You’ll be a woman soon” speeches and the What’s Happening To My Body? Book For Girls since I was eight. She bought me a “first period starter kit” that came with pink panty liners and a badly-illustrated instruction guide. Inexplicably, I hid the liners on one of our bookshelves that would later be found by our ultra-nosy housekeeper, who presented them to my mother as proof that I’d started to menstruate. I was pissed, but not bloody.

Ironically, a month later, I actually did start my period. Getting ready to jump in the shower, I looked down and saw a dark brown stain on my panties. Horrified (no one ever told me period blood could be brown), I convinced myself I had pooped my pants, despite a lack of olfactory evidence. What’s Happening To My Body? Book for Girls had not prepared me for this. Post-shower, I figured it out and grabbed one of my mom’s maxi pads from under the sink. I struggled with the protective wings for a while before giving up and taping the damn thing to my underpants with Scotch tape. “This can’t be right,” I told myself as I squelched around swathed in what was surely the adult equivalent of a diaper. “No, this is definitely not going to work for me. What’s the deal with these tampon things I keep hearing so much about?”

While my virgin vagina was understandably concerned about having a piece of dry cotton with a tail stuffed into it, my no-nonsense inner voice knew this was the only option. I suffered through an unbearably humiliating experience buying a carton of blood plugs at the grocery store, where a kindly sales associate asked me if “my mom knew I was here.” “She’s in the car,” I mumbled, while my inner voice screamed, “IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, NOSY BEYOTCH!”

Finally back home, I started trying to figure out what went where. Sure, it seems simple, but when you’re just a little bitty thing that’s never even bothered to look at her own vagine, inserting a tampon gets a lot more complicated. The anatomy guides from What’s Happening to My Body? rushed through my head, and I was filled with nonsensical worries that I would crack my cervix or make my fallopian tubes fall out of my butt. I puzzled over the instructional guide for a few minutes before putting my leg on the edge of the tub and going for it. The first few attempts were – let’s just say — unsuccessful. As my mother asked me if I needed help from outside the door, I panicked at the traumatizing thought of a My Mom Put in My First Tampon horror story, and I shoved it in. No one bothered to tell me that there was such a thing as a plastic applicator, so I was using those old school cardboard Tampax tampons that are basically the equivalent of a toilet paper roll in your vagina. I was uncomfortable, but at least I knew how to do it now. I spent the next few hours walking around gingerly doing Kegel exercises until my uncannily observant mother informed me it wasn’t going to fall out while I was walking around.

I spent the next few months living in fear that one or more of the following things would happen to me while I was at school:

  • I would start my period and bleed through my pants (it happened)
  • I would have to change my tampon during class and everyone would see me leave the room with a tampon in my hand, forever opening me to that particularly cruel brand of middle school teasing (did not happen, due to clever tricks such as shoving the tampon up the arm of my sweater or in the waistband of my pants)
  • Someone would unzip my backpack (this prank was all the rage at Cabrillo Middle School in 1999) and my arsenal of period supplies would go spilling down the stairs in front of everyone (did not happen, but I did have recurring nightmares about it for a while).

Eventually, everyone started their periods and I stopped being so paranoid and joined the others in making fun of whoever had a stain on the back of their pants that day. Middle schoolers are cruel that way, and I certainly was not the exception.

As an adult, the arrival of my period is no longer met with panic and shame, but rather annoyance and occasional relief. I pay out the ass (out the vagina?) for this new brand of birth control pill that allows me to only have a period every three months (Seasonique – get with it, ladies!). Am I fuxing with nature? Maybe, but I’m not worried about it. Besides, it made my breasts grow. Goodbye, B-cups, hello glorious, heaving C-cups! I have to wear a bra all the time now, but it’s so worth it. At least now when my worst nightmare comes true and all my tampons go spilling out of my purse and down a flight of stairs, everyone will be too busy admiring my new huge rack to notice. Or maybe I’ll just be too busy admiring my new huge rack to care. TC mark


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  • Anonymous

    That was the most convoluted way of telling everyone that you now have massive titties. Great.

    • Psyche

      Cs are NOT massive

      • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

        Well somebody’s got a pair of double Ds

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        double dose of douche

      • Anonymous

        She said they were ‘huge’, not me. Take it up with her.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CLWNWJLA3N2FIDX45742W6IEEY Mani

        agreed. i am apparently gi-freaking-normus then lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    I have no idea what it’s like to bleed out of a vagina, but I’m 26 and I’m still wondering what’s going on with my body.  What are these gray things in my hair?  Why am I still getting acne?  Why does it look like I’m getting droopy skin below my eyes?

  • Anonymous

    uh, this is awkward

  • Fiona

    this was weird and pointless. 

    • Nicole

      The article was entertaining. It’s your rude comment that’s pointless.

  • A-W

    Fact: 50% of humans menstruate have tatas. Don’t be so self-congratulatory. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa


    • Anonymous

      A lady talking about her body is self-congratulatory but 90 percent of male comedians making jokes about their dicks are hilarious. GOT IT.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

      pics or gtfo

  • Rhee

    Umm, I didn’t think it was awkward. I kinda liked it actually.

  • plaum

    I loved this just because I related so much. I started my period on the first day of our sixth grade swimming unit. I had to sit out because I couldn’t figure out tampons in the half hour before school started. When you sit on a bench by the pool in sixth grade, everybody knows its not because you “forgot your swimsuit.”

    Whatever, your first period is horrible, but life goes on, right? I never have to swim anymore and Tessah’s boobs grew and middle-schoolers grow up to be working adults who are generally less cruel. Chin up all you menstruating eleven-year-olds, you need to know that it gets better. 

  • samantha

    …sigh…your ‘hood’ article gave me false hope that things would get better. nope.

  • best guest

    Did Seasonique pay you to write this? 

  • anna

    you changed your tampon during class? thats….odd

    • shaina

      during the second day of my period, i have to change constantly, but during the rest of it, i only have to change about 2-3 times a day.  so i forget until i suddenly realize i have to change NOW.  no matter what i’m doing.  what class i’m in.  besides, high school me totally would’ve gotten behind changing during class–no one to hear the super embarrassing crackle of the plastic, obvs.

    • Anonymous

      When I was in grade school, we weren’t allowed to use the bathroom between classes, so changing during class was the only option.

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic article. I laughed out loud. Thanks

  • PJ

    I don’t know what’s wrong with the rest of you. This was the funniest thing I’ve read in a while! I’m snorting and trying not to laugh too loud so as to not wake my sleeping husband. HAHA I’m forwarding to my mom so she can enjoy, too. Unless, I’m mistaken, it seems that’s what it was written for…to entertain…not to make the reader akward or to “self-congratulate” or to “brag” about her boobs, although, when the same thing happpened to my boobs…B cup to C cup, I was THRILLED, so I’d brag!  ;)  Thanks for sharing!

  • stop... just stop

    really, thought catalog commenters? i know this is the place for HIGH CLASS SUBVERSIVE LITERATURE, but i think that everyone should be able to appreciate a simple, honest, awkward teenage “what is happening to my body?” story (i just dug up the “what is happening to my body? book for boys”). 

  • Guest

    I actually thought this was really funny. Maybe I’m not ~cool enough but I prefer funny and relatable articles to really pretentious ones that drop obscure band names every paragraph. 

  • Anonymous

    Having glorious titties with which to distract yourself is definitely a perk of surviving puberty (at least for me).

    Loved this. So relatable. :)

  • alonna

    While Seasonique might sound great in theory, you’re exposing your body to 9 extra weeks of hormones. Not so great. Plus that particular birth control is better for competitive athletes, not for women that just want fewer periods (which basically is every woman).

    • Guest

      it also can lead to blood clots and make certain people gain about 30 pounds.

    • KT

      In actuality, you can have a period every 3 months with most birth control pills and it’s fine for your body. I have a friend who does it because she seizes more around her period (catamenial epilepsy), and I’m currently on the pill straight through (stopping every 5/6 months or when suits me) because otherwise my endometriosis leaves me in such crippling pain that I’m unable to go to school.

      The idea that there’s a “special” brand that somehow makes it “okay” is pure marketing. What matters most is if the hormone levels and combination work for you (ie Dianne 35/Dianette or Yasmin as opposed to progesterone-only pills which can have worse side effects for some women). Don’t pay extra for a “special” pill that is really no different.

    • Elle

      You know whats better than all of this? A Mirena IUD. Much less hormones, no pills, and drastically reduced periods. Mine were light before and no I don’t have one at all. It’s seriously the best decision I made. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamie-White/1515213443 Jamie White

      Why would a “competitive athlete” need extra-special birth control pills? I’m a little curious, as as far as I know, there’s not much different in hormones between b.c. of the same generation (i.e. First Generation formulation versus second or third generation formulations – the original Pill vs. newer versions, I mean).

      It’s certainly, surely, not got anything to do with “having fewer periods” because a woman who’s more athletically active, especially on a competitive level, is less likely to have a monthly period anyway – her body devotes more resources to keeping itself running than prepping to make a baby.  (Note: this does NOT mean being an athlete is effective birth control. Just saying that you’re less likely to get periods as often when you’re doing sports)

  • Bdizzle

    I’m ROLLING laughing at this article. Hilar!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rebecca-Pederson/6709016 Rebecca Pederson

    I LOLed the most at “make my fallopian tubes fall out of my butt.”

  • Julia Kath

    Don’t worry. My first period happened when I was a tomboy 11-year-old, and was at an all-boy (plus me!) sleepover. In white pajamas. On the couch. With the only adult being a single dad. Who gave me an actual diaper to wear. Does it get worse? Ha, no. But I’m still great friends with most of the guys who were at the sleepover, who think, in a more mature and retrospective kind of way, that it was one of the most hilarious things ever to happen to their boyhood. They were absolutely horrified and stayed well away from the couch, “in case they got pregnant.”

  • Laura

    every so often I revisit the birth control pill and inevitably quit three months later because I miss my tiny unobtrusive 34A boobies.  having anything bigger is horrifying to me.  I’m sure yours are very nice, though.

  • Charlotte

    Lol. I couldn’t figure out tampons until I was 18, when I first had sex. This was a good 5 years after The First Horrible Period. Ah, to be young again. 

    • Akon

      Doesn’t matter, had sex.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=78000959 Kasey Baker

      first visit to the gyno, she asked if i used tampons… i said no they freak me out and are uncomfortable (pretty sure i was doing it wrong)
      she said “well someday you’re going to want to fit bigger things in there.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Whatever happened to Kat?  I’ve got a feeling that Tessa is her sassier, chestier Sista. 

  • Dreamer

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read here. Just laughed my ass off. Thank you. So relatable and so hilarious!

  • Anonymous

    Currently downloading the “What’s happening to my body? book for boys”. Yes, i’m 100 percent female

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    Love it, when I started, I had a German foreign exchange student living with our family…she gave me an o.b. tampon to use (the worst everrr)…it was mortifying.  

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