Tips for Dealing with Bras, Periods, and Breakouts

The Top Three Questions Girls Have About Their Changing Bodies

by Sarah Burningham, author of Girl to Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body

GirlToGirl_BookCoverWhile I was writing my new book GIRL TO GIRL, I interviewed a ton of girls to find out what questions they had about growing up and their changing bodies. Because let’s be honest, even if you know all about the birds and the bees, you’ve still got questions on everything from how to deal with cramps to when you should (and can) start wearing make-up. This is a time of major change—both physically and emotionally—and I remember wondering if what I was going through was normal and if other girls were feeling the same way I was. Let me reassure you—they are!

Photo credit: KatieDudley

Sarah Burningham
Photo credit: KatieDudley

To help you with all these changes, I answered three of the most popular questions I got while I was writing my book, dealing with bras, periods and breakouts, and share my favorite tips for dealing with each of them!


How do I get this dang thing on, anyway?

When I started wearing my first bra, I couldn’t figure out how to get it hooked behind my back for the life of me. You can’t see anything back there and it was like a wrestling match every time I tried to put it on. Well, I’m not the only one who thinks bra-hooking should be an Olympic event. A lot of girls asked me how to do it. So, here’s my secret tip: instead of hooking your bra in the back, slide the elastic band to the front of your body and hook it around your waist where you can see it. Then spin the band around into place, slide your arms into the straps, and pull it up into place. Voila!

What if I get my period at school?

I can’t tell you how many times I got asked this one. And it’s no wonder since you can’t predict when you’ll get your period and yet you know it’s going to happen at some point. Wouldn’t it be nice if your body had an alarm that went off and told you, “Today’s the day! Expect your period around 2:00pm.” But since there’s no period alarm clock, the most you can do is just be prepared for when it does come.

One girl I interviewed told me she was worried about bleeding through her pants at school, but don’t worry—you probably won’t have that much blood at first. You will probably feel some dampness in your underwear that signals you may have started your period. Ask to go to the school bathroom to check. If you don’t have a pad, you can wrap some toilet paper around the bottom part of your underpants four or five times to soak up the blood until you can get a real pad. And if by chance you do bleed through your clothes a little, wrap a sweatshirt around your waist and go talk to the school nurse or teacher. They’ve dealt with this before and can help you get a change of clothes and underwear. And then you’ll be as good as new.

It helps to keep a period preparedness kit in your book bag or locker with a pad or panty liner, and maybe a tampon and a change of underwear. Keep all your supplies in a cute pouch or even a paper bag, so no one can see what’s inside. Just having it there in case of emergency should give you some peace of mind. And remember, every girl you know is going to deal with her period at some point so don’t worry if you need to ask a friend or the school nurse for a pad!

Why am I breaking out and how can I stop it?

Oh, acne. Why do you torture us so? Breaking out is one of the facts of life. Nearly every girl will deal with pimples, zits, blemishes—call them whatever you want. Basically, when you hit puberty, your hormones jump-start oil production in your skin and hair. It’s all fine and good until the extra oil gets too much for your skin to handle and starts clogging your pores with all the dirt and sweat from a normal day. Hello, breakouts! Wash your face daily with gentle soap or cleanser and, here’s my tip, don’t touch it. Your fingers carry a lot of bacteria that can add to acne and every time you rest your chin in your hand or pick at a spot, you are adding extra bacteria to the mix. Resist the urge to pick!

If your acne is painful or leaves scars, you may want to talk to a doctor. For serious acne, a doctor can advise on if you may want to use a special face wash or medication. But keep in mind that most acne is just something we all have to deal with so try not to focus on it. The more you think about it, the worse you’ll feel. Not to mention, they way a zit feels on your face makes it seems MUCH bigger than it usually is. Breakouts don’t last forever so try not to let them be the center of your universe. You have way too many other things going on to let a few zits get in your way!