Even if They’re Right

I’m still pissy that they’re blaming one more thing on fat.

As I realized recently, after Lillet brought it up, I have been menstruating for twenty years this month. For those of you who share my issues with math, that means I started pretty fucking early. It also means I could probably put a down payment on a house with what I’ve spent on tampons and birth control at this point, and I still think I’m far too young to have children, so it ain’t like I’m thrilled with my body’s sense of timing. And maybe I’m just bitter because in my case, I was a skinny kid right up until menarche, at which point my breasts and thighs immediately inflated to cartoon proportions; I have trouble buying that fat is causing an epidemic of girls becoming technical women before they can write cursive, ’cause it was very much the other way around for me.

But what really burns my ass about this particular manifestation of fat terror is that it’s the fucking apotheosis of North American puritanical hooey: at last, we can blame food for making little girls want to have sex! Quick, somebody do something! (Just don’t you dare innoculate them against H.P.V. while you’re in there mucking around with a pre-pubescent’s hormones. Cancer, schmancer. You might make it occur to a teenager to have sex!)

The average age of menarche has been declining for ages; it’s worth noting that, until recently, the correlation to weight was characterized as “improved nutrition.” Now, I’m not saying the average American kid’s diet is remotely related to nutrition, nor would I wish an even longer relationship with Aunt Flo on anyone. I am the farthest fucking thing from a moon-worshipping, sea sponge-wearing, blood-is-my-girly-gift type. Bring on the friggin’ Seasonale. But, it’s just… sputter… Weren’t we all worried about 8-year-old anorexics a couple weeks ago? Do we really need yet another message that food leads to disaster? Especially when said disaster, in this case, is… adulthood?

I mean, yeah, if you’re hitting puberty early enough to fuck up your growth, it’s a problem–but I have to believe that’s a disorder. The average age of menarche remains north of 12 at this point; it’s not as if there’s an epidemic of girls going straight from diapers to pads (any more than there’s an epidemic of ivy league women signing up for the Barefoot ‘n’ Pregnant Track). My guess is, it’s another case of improved communication making a “trend” out of what are still fairly rare occurrences, on any given local scale. And sure, if you can find a way to prevent crazy early puberty for those fairly rare kids, that’s a noble goal–knock yourselves out. But if your best solutions at the moment are implanting third graders with hormone bombs and warning everyone not to let their daughters eat, maybe you should shut the fuck up for a while and go back to the drawing board. You think?

3 thoughts on “Even if They’re Right

  1. fogive me for sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but I heard another possible reason for early menarche many years ago that makes a lot of sense to me. at factory farms the cows are given high doses of synthetic estrogens to stimulate them to overlactate so we can have more, cheaper milk. so girls are drinking hormone laced milk (and eating hormone laced beef) from an early age. it’s not hard to imagine there could be a link here to early menstruation (not to mention increased incidence of breast cancer), and the possibility makes it seem well worth the extra $$ to buy organic.

  2. Yeah, I’ve read that, absolutely buy it, and would have thrown something in about it, but I didn’t want to get even more ranty. Of course, the responsibility can’t lie with factory farms. Or–even if you accept that it’s purely about body fat–with, say, big corporations that process food (especially kids’ snacks) until it’s no longer food. The problem is, as always, that Americans have no willpower. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Thanks for bringing it up.

  3. i had a beavis and butthead moment when i read the word ‘menarche.’ repressed irish catholic.

    i agree that it’s bogus to blame it on weight at this point. you can’t discern a trend like that over such a short time period.

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