The Body Scoop for Girls: A Straight-Talk Guide to a Healthy, Beautiful You
I am skeptical of books that aim to educate teens about all things related to one’s adolescent body, but The Body Scoop for Girls exceeded my expectations. Jennifer Ashton is a gynecologist and CBS medical correspondent who has written a user-friendly manual for young girls I wish I had read when I was entering the tricky terrain we call puberty. As she points out, what passes for sex education in schools still leaves a lot to be desired—no pun intended—when it comes to teenagers having the kind of comprehensive information necessary to make choices that could change the trajectory of their lives forever.
Yes, I know there has been a lot of debate on the value of preaching abstinence to teens versus providing them with information about and access to contraceptives. Ashton seems to lean toward the school of thought that ‘more is better’ when it comes to sex ed. She also believes that teens shouldn’t wait until they’re sexually active to see a gynecologist, but acknowledges that, for many parents, this is akin to giving your daughter a green light to have sex.
Ashton acknowledges the tremendous pressures that teens are under—from popular culture as well as their peers—when it comes to expressing their sexuality. She advocates teens waiting until they are eighteen to have sex, and even gives readers a list of excuses they can give to a pressuring partner before they are ready. For women who are sexually active, Ashton has good pointers as well, like always use a condom even if you are taking hormonal birth control because neither method is foolproof and the latter doesn’t keep you safe from HIV. She lists the different types of contraceptives, their pros and cons, and commonly held misconceptions about each one.
I consider myself relatively well educated and informed about need-to-know health and wellness topics, but I learned a lot from reading this book, even things that will impact my own health choices as a forty-something female. Ashton has the ability to explain complex information in an engaging and accessible manner. She comes across like a cool older sister when discussing subject matter that is often embarrassing for teen women. (It doesn’t hurt that Ashton, whose picture is featured on the book cover, is young, blonde, and attractive—just what many teenage girls aspire to be.)
Ashton covers everything about the female body in The Body Scoop for Girls—from breast health to safe waxing tips to protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections. In one interesting section, she talks about the risks of breast implants, which is classified as a major surgery, and advises girls to wait until they’re older than twenty, the age the female body ceases to mature, before considering breast implants. Ashton also dispels myths about the causes of breast cancer, such as using certain deodorants increases the risk, and imparts a few lesser known facts. (Did you know that the more alcohol you consume, the higher your risk of getting breast cancer?)
As I was reading The Body Scoop for Girls, I thought more than once that we’re given more information about how to change the oil in our car or balance a checkbook than we are about how to respect and care for our bodies. The choices teenagers make can have lifelong implications. If you’re a parent of a teenage daughter, buy a copy of this book for her and read it when she’s done. You won’t regret it, and you might even learn something in the process.