While most teenage girls were growing boobs in high school, I was growing a lady beard.
Hormones cursed me in a horrid way. Not with weight gain. Not with a bigger butt. Not with longer hair or longer legs.
Nope. None of that.
I was "blessed" with unwanted excessive facial hair by the time I hit 9th grade. And if you can imagine, I dealt with my small share of cruel comments due to my appearance.
Now, as a 32 year old mother of two, I can't help but cringe for the poor teenage girl who is dealing with roller coaster hormonal changes, likely from the banes of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) during school.
Since starting my hair removal blog, ohpluckthis.com, I cannot begin to tell you how many times young women have contacted me completely drained of trying to understanding why they have more sideburns than their husbands. Or, I hear from the poor teenager who is so terrified to be seen in public or approach a boy because of her facial fur or another embarrassing side affect of PCOS.
And while some may say to simply shave it and get over it, let me very kindly ask you to pump your judgmental brakes.
PCOS is a very bothersome and complex disorder for women. It's a condition of the endocrine system caused mainly by follicles growing on the ovaries. These follicles throw hormonal levels out of whack, often producing higher than usual testosterone levels.
Why these follicles appear is unknown, though doctors often say the culprit is genetics.
Several unwanted body changes happen when a women contends with PCOS including unwanted body hair, unexpected weight gain in the stomach area, irregular periods, hair loss, infertility, and acne. If left unmonitored, PCOS could encourage diabetes or heart problems.
So, hopefully you can now understand why a teenage girl may be feeling some kinda way about her body, especially while in school. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with the strain of hormonal imbalance as a young woman.
I only wish I made it a point to practice what I'm now preaching 15 years ago.
Know That You're Not Alone
PCOS affects 1 in 10 women so it's not an uncommon syndrome. It's likely there's at least 1 or 2 other young women in the same classroom dealing with the same thing. Take comfort in knowing there are others like you. Join a reputable online forum so you can chat with others dealing with PCOS without fear of face to face judgement or comments or someone noticing your flaring acne. Some of my favs include Soul Cysters and PCOS Challenge.
I knew I had hormonal imbalance well before any doctor. And that was because I simply educated myself. I know PCOS can be so embarrassing you don't even want to type the words into a Google search but knowing what is wrong is the first step in overcoming any hardship. Especially one that affects you on a personal and physical level so deeply. When I was dealing with excessive body hair, I Googled terms like "excessive facial hair," "hirsutism," and "hirsutism treatments." Within a few minutes, I was able to narrow down that I had a potential case of mild PCOS and severe idiopathic hirsutism. Fortunately, I also came across key treatments for hirsutism. A popular anti-androgen in the U.S. called Spironolactone drastically reduced my body hair! While educating yourself, share your findings with your parents who may not take your body changes seriously. It could mean you getting a handle on your PCOS earlier in life than most women with this disorder! But more importantly, educating yourself could help remind you that you're normal and flawed like everyone else.
Don't Be Ashamed of Being A Recluse
Dealing with unusual body changes could put you in a state of confusion and fear. Will I look like this forever? Will he like me if he sees my chin hair? Will I ever lose this weight? Teenage girls deal with enough image issues and having PCOS makes things far more difficult than life should be. However, you should not be ashamed of being shy about it. Frankly, the alone time could provide the necessary time to research the changes your body is experiencing. Many girls want to be popular, yet you just wanna feel normal. I get it. Don't feel ashamed of being ashamed of PCOS. Trust me when I say it's part of the process.
Make It A Point To Enjoy What You Love
Ok, so you have a little more facial hair, acne or love handles than the rest but does that mean you can't join the swim club? Hell no! Life doesn't stop simply because it confronts an son of a biscuit like PCOS. It keeps trucking away! The sadness and anxiety sets in and before you know it, you could be dealing with a bout of depression. Make it a point to not give up on the things you love. If you love swimming, what's stopping you from joining the swim club? And if that's too much for you, consider the local gym where your classmates are less likely to dwell. I personally found that writing and blogging takes my mind off my hormonal imbalance. I also make it a point to take a walk at least once a day or read a few pages of a good book. Please , please, please don't make my mistake and allow years of fear and anxiety due to PCOS stop you from living.
Pick Your Friends Wisely
I said earlier that many girls are so worried about being popular but you simply don't want to feel like you have a grizzly bear growing out of your jaw. Making friends with the right people will help make your school years more normal. I use to distance myself from "friends" who made half-hearted comments about my body including how skinny I was or how bushy my side burns were. It's one thing to crack a joke; it's another thing to blatantly insult someone. Only hang out with friends who accept you, make you feel comfortable and make you want to be a better person. Yes, this may mean that your friendship pool may look a little scarce but rather have 1 or 2 really good friends than 10 flighty ones that make you feel uncomfortable.