Anyone who's ever had a period has at least one menstruation horror story—but odds are your most cringe-worthy moment occurred during your early teens, when your body was changing (rapidly) and bleeding every month was still totally new and a little bit scary. There's no question puberty can be a tricky time, to put it mildly.
That's what inspired Naama Bloom, founder of HelloFlo, to write The Guide, Period ($16, amazon.com). With colorful graphics and friendly language, it covers everything you wish you knew about when you hit puberty, from discharge to nipple hair, even changes in the brain. But what we love most about this book (which we'll be gifting to our tween cousins, nieces, and daughters!) is the empowering message woven throughout: that "your body is your body," as Bloom puts it, and you're the only one who gets to decide what to do with it.
In an interview with Health, Bloom explained that since so much of the information available to girls (especially on the Internet) is based on trends, she wanted to inform them about their options, so they can choose what feels right. There isn't a "right" way to manage your period, or groom your pubic hair, she pointed out: “People have been telling women what to do with their pubic hair since the dawn of time, but it's all fashion." (Boom illustrates that point in her book with a clever timeline of pubic hair styles that dates back to ancient Egypt.)
Bloom felt particularly strongly about the chapter on the hair down there. If you go by social media, "pubic hair appears [to have] completely disappeared," she says, referring to the current trend to go totally bare. But of course, that's just one possibility, and plenty of women make different choices. (According to gynecologists, the healthiest style of pubic hair is au naturale.)
But The Guide, Period isn't all about physical changes. Bloom felt it was important to delve into other developmental changes as well: "Your brain is changing quite a bit during adolescence, and we don’t take the time to tell kids how," she explains. For example, "we talk [about peer pressure], but never say why they're more susceptible to peer pressure than someone in their 30s.”
Most importantly, Bloom never speaks to her reader in a tone that feels condescending. She believes girls are sophisticated enough to appreciate fluctuating hormones and the parts of the reproductive system; the key is presenting the info in a way that feels honest, smart, and fun. “Talking about your body shouldn’t be a dark topic," she says. "We all have bodies.”