Raising Empowered Girls: Talk Early, Talk Often

African american mother daughter talking

“Ewww! What’s that?!,” a seventh grade girl remarked as she picked up a hygiene product out of her gift bag at the conclusion of an Assist Her, Inc. workshop. The other young ladies quickly responded with street vernacular on the purpose of the product and how to use it. Some of their talk was based on personal experiences and some from mere hearsay. When I corrected them about the appropriate terms to represent a girl’s reproductive organs, all of the girls began to moan and groan loudly about the conversation being “gross,” “nasty” and inappropriate to discuss.

READ: Top 10 Myths About Sexual Health For Teens

While reflecting on this situation, a few things came to mind. The first is that there are entirely too many young girls who are not knowledgeable about their bodies from a sexual health and responsibility perspective. Also, it is painfully obvious that conversations are not occurring between girls and their female caretakers. A female caretaker is not always the biological mother, but could be an older sister, aunt, grandmother, etc. This may be the first woman charged with the duty of ensuring that an emerging young woman knows how to properly care for her body, is prepped for the introduction of a menses and knows the implication of her period on future sexual practices.