The Body Image Series – Part 3 – Puberty…It Sucks

It Sucks.


And that’s a pretty tidy summary of the joy that is puberty! Catch you next time!


Although, that really is what most people think about puberty. It is just one giant uncomfortable period of your life that would be made so much more pleasant if you could go through it under a blanket and emerge after like a beauuuutiful butterfly.


SO! What I propose is this: I write a nice little list of all the irritating and embarrassing things that happen to your body thanks to puberty and then a few handy tips that I found helped me when I went through it.


Pretty as pimples

Apart from irritating, embarrassing and all around annoying – what exactly are pimples?

Stick your face right up to your mirror and have a long hard look. See those tiny little holes? They are called pores, and inside your pores you find oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. Your body makes oil naturally but during puberty it goes into overdrive, and this excess oil combines with the skin cells and bacteria to clog up your pores, leading to breakouts. The good news…this process of clogging pores is cyclical and you shed your dead skin every 28 days, so you can start a new!

So what can you do about it? Here is what I have learnt during my life and as part of my study course into health and fitness.

  1. Some people are more prone to acne than others – yep, it sucks. Sometimes you will find that you get pimples no matter what you do! If this is the case, I recommend seeing a dermatologist (skin doctor) who can prescribe medication suited for your case.
  2. Water is your new best friend.
    Not only does it help your body function at optimum level, it helps to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out and will flush toxins from your body!
  3. Stay away from make-up. I know, it is not the most helpful advice for the time in your life when you are prone to reaching for the make-up BUT make-up clogs your pores up!
  4. Wash your face morning and night with water and a simple alcohol free soap. I suggest QV wash. Always moisturise your face – again I suggest QV body lotion.
  5. Your diet matters. This is paramount to healthy skin. Stay away from processed foods and food and drinks that contain added sweeteners, salt or too many saturated fats. Eat 4-5 serves of vegetables a day, 2-3 serves of fruit, 4-5 serves of whole grain carbohydrates (I promise they are your friend) and 2-3 serves of lean protein either from animal protein or (preferably in my humble opinion) plant based proteins – nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, tofu etc. Check out these government endorsed guidelines for more info:


Growth spurts hurt
You know it isn’t going to be enjoyable when your body literally stretches itself out. Your major growth spurt can happen anytime between 9-17 years. This is also around the time when most of the growth plates of the major long bones in young bodies fuse, close or become ossified. They will finish their growth development between 16-25 years old – most commonly around 18. If you get severe growing pains in your lower limbs (Pelvis, Hip, Knee, Ankle, Foot or Lower Back) as these are weight bearing, the strain is compounded and shoulders, arms and posture may be negatively affected. These are correctable and preventable during the teenage years.

Sometimes your bones will grow too fast for the muscles and tendons to keep up. This should be temporary, however underlying hereditary or genetic considerations, or previous history of sporting injuries and trauma should also be investigated in case these affect your normal growth patterns.

These types of misalignments, at the lower back, hip, knee, ankle & foot could cause a chain of pain in one or more of these areas as your body compensates for the growth anomalies. This may lead to chronic problems and pain syndromes into adulthood.

If the duration of your pain is more than 3 months, appears in multiple joints from the age of 9 or younger or reoccurs at frequent intervals, see a Podiatrist/Podiatric Practitioner as they specialize in assessing and diagnosing bone issues of the lower back and lower limb. Preventing of misalignments of bone and muscle are possible any time during growth, however most commonly before 18 years.

The best improvement in correction occurs between 9 – 17 years but varies for each individual.

To keep yourself healthy and active, intervention ASAP is best before 18 Years, after that you may find yourself requiring lifelong pain treatments & preventative measures.

Your maximum height is generally reached within two years of the start of puberty, however, boys tend to begin their growth spurt two years after girls. So for a short period of time you may be towered over by them – but don’t worry, it is all temporary. By the age of 16 boys will finish their growth spurts but their muscles will continue to develop.


Don’t forget that genetics play a big role in determining how tall you will be. Aside from platform shoes or high heels, there really isn’t much you can do to change your height. Finding a way to be comfortable in your own skin will make navigating puberty that much easier.



My clothes don’t fit…


This is the scariest part of puberty for a lot of people. However, it is a normal hormonal change – affecting girls more than boys. Female weight gain during puberty can be attributed to the hormone oestrogen. During puberty the brain signals the ovaries (female reproductive organs) to start producing oestrogen, this hormone causes changes in the female body – not least of all, weight gain – as your body readies itself for being able to have baby.

You can be expected to gain approximately 6-7kg over the few years that puberty takes. While this may seem like a lot, remember, at this time you are also getting taller and moreover this weight gain is a healthy and vital part of going through puberty. You may feel uncomfortable if all of a sudden you become curvier than your friends but remember that it is unhealthy to try and prevent pubescent weight gain. It might make you uncomfortable in the beginning but it will even out eventually, and your friends will catch up.




Emotions are GREATly unappreciated


You are getting an influx of hormones, everything is changing, things are erupting on your face and your jeans are too short or too tight. OF COURSE you are going to get mad. The trick is acknowledging what it is that is making your emotions run wild and then either accepting you don’t have control. or taking control.

Any major body changes bring with them a sense of discomfort and self consciousness. You aren’t used to looking or feeling this new way and are very conscious that other people have noticed this new you as well. You may become more quick to anger or irritate as you try to cope with these massive changes. It is important to remember that while it may all seem sudden and totally out of control, there are small things you can do to help your body adjust (see the bits of advice previously mentioned). It can seem appealing to push your frustration and anger down, bottle it up and pretend everything is fine, and hey, maybe this works for you, but it takes just as much strength to let everything out. I’m not talking about getting a sledge hammer and smashing up your bedroom, but it is good to cry and rage a little, gets the feelings out in the open where they can’t fester and darken. Here are a few non-violent ways to cope with this onset of emotions.

  1. Take a walk – literally anywhere. To the shops, to the park, around the block. Take your headphones and listen to music or don’t take anything and just listen to the world go by. Getting out of your house or school and doing something just for you and by yourself can help calm you down instantly.
  2. Join a kickboxing class – okay so this one is a little bit violent, but in a controlled and directed way! You can’t beat punching a bag or some pads when it comes to venting frustration. I have used this technique MANY times throughout high school and it just kicks ass!
  3. Sit down and talk to someone – a friend, a parent, a teacher, a councillor. Talking through your emotions is a great way to help you make sense of them and then together you can come up with coping strategies. Not only does this mean there are more ideas bouncing around, but you have now let someone in to what can be an isolating time in your life. They now have the knowledge that you might sometimes be cranky, off your game, in need of a hug or just a bit of space.

Another important point to remember – certain personality types might find that they are pushed into overdrive during puberty. You may become even more shy, anxious, nervous, quick to anger, bossy, aggressive or irritable. Childhood trauma, mental and physical health issues can become exacerbated and you may find it more of a struggle to get through puberty successfully or moreover, find that these become a barrier or a hang up later in life!

So that these don’t become a detrimental life pattern…

  • Talk to someone, a councillor, psychiatrist, psychologist or family member.
  • Find out whether Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or NLP can help you.

Don’t forget…everyone, LITERALLY everyone in the entire world has gone through this too. From your regular crush to your celebrity crush – no body escapes the wrath of Puberty! It is annoying but most importantly… it is temporary!



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