Am I Normal?
Originally Published: February 15, 2016
Revised: February 15, 2016
Many teenage girls experience feelings of disliking their bodies at one point or another. In the media, we tend to see only certain body types, so it’s no surprise that someone might feel bad about her body.
Katya Summers, 17, of Piscataway, NJ, cites this as a reason why many girls have body issues: “You don’t see a lot of everyday women’s naked bodies all the time.”
And when you do stumble across images of bodies in the media, they have often either undergone cosmetic surgery or were chosen because they look like some “ideal.” So whether it has to do with your breasts or your vulva or the shape of your body, chances are anything that embarrasses you about your body is probably normal and many other girls experience similar feelings.
Some girls tend to feel that their breasts are too small. This is something Lily Greene, 17, Piscataway, NJ, has dealt with before.
“I always thought my breasts were like…too small, but then I realized they’re great hand size, like they fit in the hand properly – and they don’t give me back problems! They’re not too small, and they’re not too big. They’re great!”
Lily’s confidence is something many girls struggle to gain. It can take months or years for someone to get comfortable with her body.
…chances are anything that embarrasses you about your body is probably normal and many other girls experience similar feelings.
What if you’re not concerned about the size of your breasts, but the fact that they are different sizes? Many women and teenage girls have breasts that are two different sizes. Most of the time, the difference is not that much. There’s also a chance that by the time a girl’s breasts finish developing, they will even out in size. But even then, they sometimes don’t. It’s different for everyone, and it’s all perfectly normal.
Some girls may also notice that their nipples do not point out, but instead seem to be flat or maybe are actually inverted, which means they turn in. This is normal, much like how some people have belly buttons that are “outies” and some have “innies.” Variation in nipples is common.
The areola—an area of skin around the nipple that is darker than the rest of the breast—is another thing that varies between girls. Like some girls, Lily has struggled with this as well.
“I actually thought mine were too dark for a while,” she says. “My guy friends once talked about how in porn they see women, and if the woman’s areola is ‘too dark’ or ‘too big,’ they’re like ‘Oh, it’s gross!’ And so for a while it was just like, ‘What if mine are too dark?’”
In actuality, the color of areolas differs from person to person. Whether one’s areolas are large and dark or small and pale, it’s different for everyone and nothing to feel ashamed of.
The vulva is another part of the body girls can feel insecure about. To begin with, there’s the labia, which has two parts: the labia majora and labia minora. The labia majora are the outer lips, and during and after puberty, hair grows on them. The labia minora are the inner lips, and are the two flaps on either side of the vaginal opening. Some girls have labia minora that are longer than their labia majora, and that’s O.K. Color also differs between each girl’s labia.
Sage Wilson, 14, of Wichita, KS, noticed that her labia are “darker than every other part of [her] body,” which is common. Many girls have labia that are a different color than the rest of their bodies. It’s normal.
The clitoris—an organ located near the top of the vulva with more than 8,000 nerve endings—is also something that differs between women. Some girls may have a small clitoris that is hidden by the clitoral hood. Some girls may have larger clitorises that can resemble a very small penis. There is no “right size”—everyone is different.
Labia and clitorises come in different shapes, sizes and colors. If we lined up images of different women’s vulvas, no two would look exactly alike, which is actually pretty amazing if you think about it.
When I ask Lily what advice she has for girls trying to get comfortable with their bodies, she says, “Realize that your body is different than your friend’s and their friend’s.”
The first step to getting comfortable with your body is to accept what it looks like and the fact that it is uniquely yours. You’re not going to look like the girls on TV because you’re not them. You are you.
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