My daughter is on the brink of adolescence, scary new territory for the both of us. She’s trudging through that precarious, almost-but-not-quite-a-teen state of limbo, we’ve all had to struggle through on our way to adulthood. Of course, I want to help guide her through this awkward phase and see her come out the other side a strong, self-assured young woman.

So on days when she’s more defiant than usual and has me at my wit’s end. I remind myself to take a deep breath in and calmly try to see things from her perspective. Remembering that during the earliest stages of puberty, life can suddenly become a precarious state of existence. It’s a time when it can feel as though your very own body is turning against you. As well as becoming a source of intense anxiety. Not to mention, the new found fascination with sex that usually makes its appearance around the same time.

GirlReadingPutting myself in her shoes has caused me to do some looking back at that turbulent time in my own childhood. When my body was doing things I didn’t fully understand and sexual curiosity made its first blips across my radar. Back then my ideas about sex were still abstract and relatively vague. Sex was still a shadowy concept I’d heard adults discuss in hushed voices.

Sometimes I’d snuck glimpses of “it” in the actors’ portrayals during the day time soaps my grandmother watched. It was shamelessly displayed in the photos I’d nervously snuck a peek at, in the Hustler magazines. I’d accidentally found, hidden under my Uncle’s bed. The summer he moved in with us while going through his divorce. Though, I was still unsure of what exactly these images portrayed.

Looking back, I clearly see I was a scared, confused young girl. Adrift in a sea of sexualized imagery, still and moving. Even in line at the grocery store, I found myself surrounded by photos of provocatively dressed women on glossy magazine covers with a certain look in their eye. Unfortunately, with no adult guidance to help interpret what I was viewing. I was left to make my own, and often wrong assumptions.

This commercialized representation of sex, shown to me through the lens of male heterosexuality, left me feeling uncertain of how to feel about sex. I didn’t see a reflection of myself in it. It left me feeling isolated and alone. Sadly, there was no trusting parent to sort things out for me. Someone to point out that what I was observing was only a small sampling of human sexuality. That my sexual desires would take their own unique form as I matured and discovered who and what I was attracted to. Someone to tell that confused little girl that there is nothing dirty or wrong about sex. That sex isn’t just for the thin, toned, and tanned, a concept that I’d already begun absorbing into my subconscious, but instead, that sex is as natural as breathing.~