You Asked It

Just Wondering

Little answers to your big questions.

My sister has been showing signs of anorexia—she’s been getting thinner, she sneaks food into her pockets during family dinners, and I went through her internet search history and found calorie-counting sites and apps. But she says that if I tell our mother, she will tell her that I smoke, which I don’t anymore, but I used to. My mom will flip out. What should I do? I want to help my sister, but I don’t want to get in trouble. —Gemma

Oh boy. You’re in a tough position, but your heart is definitely in the right place. As someone who is in recovery from anorexia, I have to say that the behavior you describe definitely sends up red flags, especially the fact that she is being incredibly secretive, and basically blackmailing you to do the same. I really think it would be best to talk to your mother about your concerns.

I know that this is scary in several ways—you’re afraid of betraying your sister’s trust, afraid of upsetting your mother, and afraid of getting in trouble. But about the last thing: you’ve already quit smoking, proving that you’re taking steps that your mother will hopefully see as positive. And by not letting your sister hold that over you, you’re proving to her that you have the courage and strength to own up to and overcome unhealthy habits. If you are genuinely concerned about her mental and physical health, then I’m certain your mother will be as well—she may already have her own suspicions regarding your sister’s weight loss and behaviors, and bringing it out in the open may help all three of you.

Please understand that if your sister is dealing with anorexia, she may not be pleased AT ALL with your taking this action, but that’s the eating disorder trying to keep her under its grasp. I was not the nicest person in the world when my family was trying to get me into recovery, but nine years later, I am extremely thankful for everything they did to get me the help I needed. You obviously love your sister very much, and I think speaking to your mother about the issue wouldn’t be a betrayal of her trust. It’s a genuine attempt to help, and I think she will (eventually) see it that way.

You and your mother may find this website helpful (it’s old school, but it has a lot of great info). Also check out the site for the National Eating Disorders Association. Both sites offer resources and a number to call to talk about treatment. Treatment options vary and can depend on types of insurance coverage. I was diagnosed by my pediatrician, but I now see a therapist and a dietician.

I wish you and your sister many good things. Recovery is absolutely possible, and with a supportive, loving family member like you on her side, the light at the end of the tunnel shines a little brighter. —Pixie

Every time I’ve kissed a boy, it’s been awful. Is it normal to think frenching is gross? Will it ever not be gross? And is it true that it’s a natural thing that you’re supposed to “just know” how to do? —Cass

Hi, Cass! You’ve come to the right place—I’ve done a lot of frenching in my time, and my experiences have run the gamut from totally horrible to utterly transcendent. When it comes to makeouts, I’ve been there, tongued that, and I’m happy to use my experience to help you out.

You didn’t say your age, but the first basic of first base with other middle- and high-school-age people is this: everyone is still really new to this particular ballgame, even if they’ve been up at bat a few times before. And, as with everything in this world that a person is trying out for the first couple of times, they probably won’t be confident about it right away. The important thing is not throwing in the towel just because of a few questionable kisses. To answer your last question: no, I don’t think many folks out there are born with natural, god-given tongue talents. And though it might not seem this way at the moment, this is actually a great thing: figuring out how to french with aplomb is a total blast, even if it seems a little disgusting at first.

My first time making out with a boy was a complete disaster. I was in the sixth grade, and at my friend Becky’s Halloween party. Near the end of the night, our attention turned to a lively game of lights-out spin the bottle. When it was my turn, I landed on this stringbean-y guy whom I’ll call T. He moved toward me in the darkness; all of a sudden, his head was plowing into mine with the force and intensity of a bulldozer. He wetly gnawed my face for a few seconds until someone turned on the light, and I pulled away in horror. Sounds totally swoon-worthy, right? No, it was, as you so aptly put it, gross. Many people feel this way about their first couple of frenching experiences.

I was thrown for a loop by T., but every game of tonsil hockey I took part in after that helped me understand what I wanted in a kiss—and how to guide my kissees into giving me those things. What makes a good kiss is different for everyone, but one universal truth I can tell you is to try to move slowly when you’re first figuring out what feels good for you. While mashing your lips against another person’s with abandon can be really awesome, I found it helpful to slow down and focus on what movements/sensations felt best to me, and which ones didn’t work out as well. Imposing a speed limit on your lips and tongue might help you pay more attention to what you do and don’t like, so you don’t just walk away confused and disgusted.

Once you’ve figured out how to consciously identify your preferences, you can take the lead! If your kissing partner is doing stuff that you’re not enjoying (which will totally happen—high school kiss-drool is a very real thing) you have the power to change what’s happening. But you don’t have to be all “UGH THIS IS TERRIBLE I HATE YOUR MOUTH PLEASE CHANGE ITTTT”—subtle communication makes a world of difference. You can use your body and your carefully chosen words to change the direction of the kiss. If someone, for example, is pressing their mouth on yours too hard, try putting your hands on their neck and gently moving them backward, or changing the angle of your head so that you’re more in control.

If that doesn’t work, tell them what’s up, but frame it positively so that you don’t hurt their feelings—you wouldn’t want them to hurt yours either, you know? Saying something like “I really like it when you’re gentle with me” can clue someone else in to the fact that they should take it a little easier, without insulting them in the process. People rely on cues from the person they’re kissing to know what’s good, so help them out! You’re in this together, presumably because you like each other, so you don’t have to treat a kiss like a silent battleground between two sparring tongues. MAKE OUT, NOT WAR.

And if some kisses don’t work out the way you want them to despite your best efforts, don’t worry about it, because they’re gonna make some great stories, ones which you can hella laugh about with your friends later, in private. Becky and I giggled about my experience with T. for the rest of the year, and I wouldn’t trade that for the most cinematic kiss in the universe. So file away what you’ve learned, and know that there’s always going to be a next time. –Amy Rose

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about having sex with this boy I’m involved with. We’ve talked about it, and I know for sure that we’d use a condom, but I would like to get on some sort of birth control pill to be extra safe. But there are so many kinds of pill—I’m very confused, and wonder if you could help me sort out the pros and cons of the different types. –Niki

First of all, congratulations on doubling up by using two forms of birth control—you want to get as close as you can to 100% effective birth control when you’re trying to be 100% baby-proof, and using two methods is a great way to accomplish that. Also, it’s always a good idea to use condoms, as barrier methods are the only thing that will protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Pills come in two types: estrogen and progestin together, and progestin by itself. The combination pill is the one I’ll be talking about here (the progestin-only kind is recommended only if you have health conditions that prevent you from taking estrogen, or if you’re breastfeeding).

Considering the eleventy-million pill brands out there, I’m not surprised you’re wondering about the pros and cons of Estrovique vs. Tri-Goddess vs. VagNessa (all of these names were still imaginary at the time of this writing). The biggest incentive for drug companies to constantly put out new pills is money, not that newer ones work better. All pills are equally effective at preventing you from getting pregnant, whether they’re generic or brand-name. You know how razors used to come in only one or two variations, and now there are razors with five blades, plus a lotion strip, plus a hot-pink ergonomic handle—but they all remove the hair from your legs? Pills are the same way—there are new “innovations” every year, but no pill is more effective than the others.

But, just like with razors, the differences between all the kinds of pills might make one better for you, depending on your needs and wants. Here are some of those differences:

1. One hormone level vs. a bunch of levels. Pills can take you through anywhere from one to four “phases,” or hormone levels, throughout one menstrual cycle. With monophasic pills, all the pills in one pack have the same hormone level, biphasic packs have two levels, then there are triphasic and quadraphasic pills…you feel me. If you don’t know which kind you’re on, you can count how many different kinds of pills are in the package (or ask your provider or pharmacist or Dr. Google MD). The advantage to monophasic pills is that if you miss a pill, you can make it up more easily, so you’re less likely to get pregnant in between pill cycles. But if you have negative side effects (like spotting between periods or missing a bunch of periods) on a monophasic pill, you might be switched to a multiphasic one.

2. Higher vs. lower hormone levels. There’s a lot of concern about the dosage of hormones in pills, but the differences aren’t really ones most people will feel, side-effect-wise. All pills have about the same incidence of side effects, like breast tenderness, headache, and mood swings. Very-low-dose pills may be less effective at preventing pregnancy, and they are more likely to cause spotting between periods. There is some evidence that low-dose pills are less likely to cause side effects like blood clots, but these are so, so, so rare that it’s not a concern for a young person with a normal risk level (here are some of the things that might increase your risk for blood clots).

3. Skipping periods. If you’re interested in skipping periods, let your provider know! It’s totally safe to not have your period when you’re on birth control, and anyone can do it with any pill, although one-phase pills are preferred. Those fancy “extended-regimen” pills that give you only a few periods a year are actually just normal pills repackaged without the placebo (inactive sugar pill) weeks.

4. Side effects. Except in very specific situations, one brand of pill isn’t going to have different side effects, positive or negative. For instance, even though Ortho Tri-Cyclen is specifically approved for acne, all birth control has the same likelihood to help with your skin, because they all work the same way. Same with Yaz/Yasmin for PMDD (severe PMS): it’s specifically approved, but there’s no evidence that it’s better than other pills at helping with this. However, your body’s adjustment to all birth control is as individual as you are, so there’s really no “best,” just what’s best for you. This is when it’s really useful to have so many different pill recipes! If you have side effects that you don’t like with one pill, you can try another, or you can switch to another method. While talking to your provider, make sure you especially mention if you have a lot of acne, severe PMS, or a history of ovarian cysts.

5. Free gifts. There are a couple of new pills out there that have folic acid or iron supplements in them. You know how there’s those deals where if you spend $100 you get a crappy tote bag or something? Yep. A supplement is a good call, but since these pills aren’t generic, you end up paying $75 for a $5 pill with a $5 vitamin in it. Save your money and just buy vitamins when you pick up your pack.

Also, have you considered other methods? It’s not easy to take a pill every day. The pill is the most high-maintenance of all the hormonal methods: the more chances you have to forget a method, the less effective it is. In comparison, you only have to remember the patch every week, the ring every month, the shot once every three months, the implant every three years, and the Mirena IUD every five years. (There’s also a non-hormonal IUD, ParaGard, that works for 10 years.) My humble recommendation is to start your ~contraceptive vision quest~ with a gadget like MethodMatch or Best Method for Me or MyMethod. (And try not to let cost trap you—if you’re in the U.S., Bedsider can help you find free/low-cost birth control.) Anyway, I hope this helps, and have fun! —Lola

I’m 15, and I’m pretty overweight. Last year my mom tried Weight Watchers and lost a ton of weight. I was really proud of her, and for a little while, I did it with her to keep her company, and I lost a couple of pounds. But I gained it all back, and then some. Now my mom is constantly on my back about what I eat and how much I weigh. She wants me to go back on WW, and maybe I should just shut up and do it, but her constant comments (“You’re overweight, you need to lose 20 pounds” etc.) make me feel so terrible. I’ve tried talking to her, but all she says is, “Well, you really do need to lose the weight.” I hate myself, and I hate her. What can I do? I’m really sad and confused. —Clare, Chicago

I first want to say that I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad right now, both about yourself and toward your mom. I can empathize, because I’ve been exactly where you are. I experienced a big weight gain in my early 20s. I didn’t live near my family at the time, but every time I visited them, my weight was the first thing they commented on. Whether it was intended to be mocking or motivational, it didn’t matter—they were talking about my body in a negative way, and it really hurt. I can only imagine how it feels to have that sort of dialogue every day. And, like you, I went on Weight Watchers and lost weight, only to gain it all back, plus a little extra.

One thing for you and your mom to keep in mind: there’s an overwhelming tendency in the media to make people feel terrible about themselves so that they buy more things and spend more money in an effort to fix their bodies. This ideal that skinny = better suggests that there’s only one possible way to look and feel good about ourselves, and it doesn’t take into consideration different body types or family history or anything. So before we even get into changing something about you, I want you to know that I know you are already enough just as you are; but if your mom has been taught to feel otherwise, it’s not entirely her fault.

I’m not going to tell you to lose weight. How much you weight is totally irrelevant to who you are as a person, and the number on the scale doesn’t determine what kind of person you are or even how healthy you are. Instead, I’m going to ask you to think about whether there’s anything you want your body to do that it isn’t already doing. If your body does everything you want it to, and you feel fine with it the way it is, then your only job (and it’s a big one) is getting your mom to stop criticizing you. Even though the way she currently talks about your weight is annoying, I’m assuming that her fear is that you won’t be happy at your current weight. Don’t lock her out of this process. Try to get her to see that you’re happy, and that if you’re happy, that’s more than enough. Maybe you can say, “II’m completely fine with my body the way it is now, and I need my happiness to be more important to you than how my body looks. Please stop bugging me, because it makes me not want to talk to you at all.”

If you decide that there are things you want your body to do that it doesn’t do now, or that you just want to be healthier in general, obviously, first talk to a doctor (but make sure it’s a doctor you trust—you don’t just want to go to someone who dismissively tells you to lose weight without listening to you). Then figure out how to get where you want to be. Is your goal to eat less processed food? Maybe you can try to substitute fruit, grains, and yogurt in place of your between-meal snacks for a week and see how you feel. Some schools have a nutritionist on staff now, or the school nurse is often equipped to help you figure out a plan for eating right based on your goals and body type, so that could be an option—make sure he or she is certified, though. Do you want to be stronger? You should look into classes offered in your town or through your school—maybe yoga, Zumba, karate, or kickboxing will make you feel more empowered. Is your goal to just not spend most of your day sitting down? Perhaps you can walk to school with a group of friends (safety first), or learn how to skateboard, or make it a point to go for a walk with your iPod and a good playlist/podcast a few times a week. Is your goal to just look different? That’s completely OK, too, as long as you aren’t trying to mold yourself to an ideal that ends up making you feel terrible.

I really enjoy walking, so I found that walking to work instead of taking the bus helps me feel strong and connected to my body. Chicago has pretty brutal weather in the winter, so you might want to find alternatives, though, like a school with an indoor track, the Y, or a gym with discounted memberships.

Finally, once you’ve answered some of these questions for yourself and figured out what you want to do, you should talk to your mom about how you’re feeling. Get her support for whatever you’ve decided to do (or not do!). Like: “Hey, I’m really, really happy that Weight Watchers worked for you, but it didn’t work for me, and I my goals are different from yours. Want to go for a walk with me?” Or: “Mom, when you comment about my body and/or weight like that it makes me feel bad. I’m trying my best, but I still need your help.” Or even just: “Lay off, Mom, I’m doing this my own way. Wanna go to the movies?”

Let her know that what you need from her is support, not criticism. And don’t let anyone define what you “should” be doing. It’s about what you want. —Danielle

If you have a question for next month’s Just Wondering, please send it to


  • actressgirl November 6th, 2012 11:10 PM

    Cass, I can relate to the stuff about french kssing. While I didn’t really think it was “gross” it definatly felt strange and awkward the first few time’s I did it/ It will get better though, I promise.

  • Orhedea November 6th, 2012 11:50 PM

    The first time I kissed a guy-I literally COULD NOT STOP thinking about washing machines. And then chores. And then my math homework. Finally dog.
    In the end-turns out it was just the wrong guy to kiss.
    When I found a guy I really really liked-it was awesome;)

    • AliceinWonderland November 7th, 2012 12:20 AM

      Lol. “Finally dog.”

  • Blythe November 7th, 2012 12:04 AM

    Busily taking notes on this kissing stuff for a possible near future.

  • Yani November 7th, 2012 12:13 AM

    I know this won’t be a popular opinion… but because no one ever told me this might happen, not even in the pamphlet, and I think it is important for other girls to know, I am going to write my experience here..

    My ex didn’t want to use condoms and I was dumb and easily manipulated into sacrificing my body for his perfected ‘technique’, anyway, so I went on the Pill (Levlen ED) after getting both of us tested for HIV/STIs. I was told by my doctor this was one of the mildest Pills. My body did not react well to it. I became moody, I got thrush all the time>buying other meds, I lost control of my cycle -there is a fake (put in by the company) period perfected to the hour. I’m not joking. This is real. I had purple coloured walls of my uterus come out in the second month and I just knew that was f-ed up and I couldn’t continue. My body felt out of whack and for what? No baby with an idiot guy?

    I tried the Implanon. I heard great things from many friends, doctors I talk with. Got that and had spotting of blood randomly. No period or lighter ones. The biggest side effect for me and the reason I took it out after 4 months is that I genuinely felt like an alien. Nothing affected me anymore. I felt empty and numb.

    It has been 2 years since this happened and my body has mostly returned to normal only recently.

    My point is, even though the Pill might look great on paper or in magazines or from the doctors mouth, LISTEN to your body. If it is saying no, don’t keep going. I feel there is a lot of pressure for Pills/implants be normalised but there isn’t anything normal about them.

    • Yani November 7th, 2012 12:31 AM

      I also want to add my current method of contraception, the one I have reached after all of that above… the temperature method and condoms when out of the safe zones.

      I learnt about the temperature method when at this women’s camp/festival I went to (haha I know I sound like a total hippy right now) and there were a lot of young women like me there who had the same side effects and lost the connection to their bodies/cycles/also felt like aliens. We were explained the temperature method by these wise nature-y women and were given other info and some charts if we wanted to try that method.

      Anyway, good luck to all. Try and find what suits you…

      Also want to say that transcendental kissing is the bomb. The bees knees -_-

      • giov November 7th, 2012 6:11 PM

        I also went on the pill because my first partner couldn’t deal with condoms. He never pressured me or anything but it thought it’d be a good idea to take the responsibility myself (plus, I was hoping to get rid of my zits).

        What I learnt is that although it has done great things for women and humanity, the pill is not for me. Doctors will tell you that it’s all good, my body said no, no, no.

        I understand wanting to be extra safe, but if you’re already planning to use condoms, I’d say WAIT before starting the pill. See how you go with condoms, if you and your partner are ok with them and if you feel safe using them.

        It is super important to use a condom, but the pill does have side effects and I would think twice before taking it, that’s all I’m saying.

  • Abby November 7th, 2012 12:55 AM

    This is awesome, you guys… I’m in the same situation with my mom and my weight and weight watchers… it’s like we’re the same person o_0… Anyway… it is rough. I’m proud of my mom but when she brings up my weight it makes me feel terrible… It’s just hard.

    Also… GOBAMA!! In the immortal words of Amanda, my best friend, “FOUR MORE YEARS, BITCHES!!!”

  • resonance November 7th, 2012 2:10 AM

    To Niki, and anyone else who wants to try birth control pills, I recommend MonoNessa. I’ve been on it since June and it’s treated me well; I haven’t had any negative side effects, and I had no cramps at all during my last two periods (I normally have mild ones). Before that, I was on a progestin-only pill whose name I forget, which made me have two periods a month and did nothing to relieve my cramps, but was fine otherwise.

    Of course, as Lola said, everyone will react to BC pills differently. I’m lucky that my body has responded well to both kinds of BC that I’ve been on, and I can only hope the same for other readers who decide to try it.

    P.S. If you can, take your pill just before you go to bed at night to avoid breast tenderness!

    • resonance November 7th, 2012 2:11 AM

      *avoid (sleep through) breast tenderness

  • Caden November 7th, 2012 4:22 AM

    I found kissing gross too when I started. But like anything, it gets better with practice!

    Also I had to try a few different types of contraceptive pills before I found one that felt right. You’re right too that it’s important to use condoms too!

    I think article is all very good advice. :)

  • hellorose November 7th, 2012 5:35 AM

    my first boyfriend, who was also one of the first people i kissed, kissed in a way that i can only describe as ‘like a hyperactive puppy’. i spent so long trying to subtly teach him how not to go wild on my face but to no avail. when one of my friends kissed him about 6/7 years later she concurred with the puppy description. some people never learn!

  • illonablyton November 7th, 2012 5:36 AM

    Aw, Clare! I feel you girl!

    Being overweight sucks so much! One day I feel so good about myself and the next all I can think is “fat, fat, fat”. There isn’t much to say to make anyone feel better about their weight since I think it’s something to work out yourself, but when you finally reach a good place (which I haven’t by the way) you’ll see that everything is going to be okay. There are ALWAYS gonna be people who want you to lose weight. Sometimes it’s your mother (in your case) and grandmothers (in my case). Sometimes it might even be a friend who’s bullying you, but making it seem like a joke. It still isn’t right.

    I recently started spinning, which makes me feel better. But exercise isn’t for everyone. I think it was Tyra Banks or some super famous skinny person that said eating healthy is the way to go for them. Eating right worked for me for a while, but man, it was SO difficult. And besides, to each her own. If you don’t want to do exercise, I understand. If you’d prefer to eat healthy (I don’t believe in diet-diets. If that makes sense. Though I am a fan of anything high-protein since I hate veggies (no offense to vegetarians) but love meat. I guess that’s a South Africa thing) then more power to you. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s right for YOU and no-one else.

    I am such a rambler. I hope you got what I was saying. Or trying to say. ♥

  • Elizabete November 7th, 2012 7:28 AM

    To Gemma about sister with ED :

    I guess your parents have already found out about your sister, but if not then DEFINITELY TELL. Help her as you can even if she hates you for it, even if she says it’s ok, remind her of eating more and don’t let her exercise too much, i bet she really will hate you at start, but i guarantee that when she recovers she’ll be super ultra very thankful :)

    I also had ED in past and i thought everyone who’s trying to help me is evil, jealous creature who just wants me to be fat, but now that i’m recovered i am really thankful and even a little ashamed of my crazy behavior. I really respect people who helped me and i’m glad they were so persistent and straight-forward because i recovered much sooner than people with less involved parents/doctors.

  • emine November 7th, 2012 12:30 PM

    oh my god, my first french kiss was SO AWKWARD. I was 14, and I had fucking BRACES. It was this weird, bumpy, metallic experience that I could barely describe as a kiss… more like slugs having sex.. with a metal condom.
    It was so awful that after that I passed up many opportunities to kiss any guys again because I thought that I was the problem and that kissing was a natural god-given ability that I was somehow born without.
    I finally let go of my self-consciousness this summer, so seventeen. It took me THREE YEARS to lose my bad-kissing inhibitions. But thank god I did !
    My second french kiss was amazingggg He was nineteen, and I’m guessing experienced and I enjoyed it so so so much, and so did he.
    So I guess my advice for kissing is if at first you don’t succeed, kiss, kiss again :D

    • Amy Rose November 7th, 2012 2:30 PM

      Slugs having sex with a metal condom!!! AMAZING. You should be a writer. I’m glad your second kiss was better than your first!

  • purrr November 7th, 2012 3:43 PM

    i’ve had braces for 3 years and kissing is super rad with them ^___~

  • landlockedblues November 7th, 2012 4:00 PM

    Wow, this was such a great post and I feel like I have so much I want to comment on, haha.

    About kissing: I think most kisses are weird but it’s important to find someone you really like so when you kiss them, it’s a little less gross, haha.

    About weight loss: My mom has struggled with her weight all her life and I think there has definitely been a big difference in generations with regards to our weight and body image. I mean, now I get the feeling that there’s a bigger ‘Accept your body! Don’t live up to unreal beauty expectations!’ vibe, which I feel like my mom doesn’t understand. I mean, when I was 13, my mom once told me that fat girls aren’t pretty and that sort of statement leaves a pretty serious impression on a teenage girl. I’m rambling at this point, but I think you need to get to the point where you are comfortable and feel beautiful, whether that requires healthy weight loss or not.

    • giov November 7th, 2012 6:19 PM

      my mom, who is a self proclaimed feminist and has a degree in fucking psychology, used to compare me to my skinnier friends all the time.
      she was born in the 40′s and has dealt with weight issues since she was a small child (because of my grandma, do you see a pattern here?).

      The problems with mothers is that as women they have their own body issues to deal with, and they will pass them down to you.

      I intend to be part of the first generation that will not do that, but I understand where my mom is coming from. Still, it’s hard!

  • Nina_8 November 7th, 2012 5:06 PM

    My first kiss was super weird too, but more funny/unusual is that I recently started dating my best friend, and OUR first kiss (even though both of us have experience) was ALSO SO WEIRD. BUT NEVER FEAR, because after a few weeks (and some ahem, tongue control advice by me) we figured it out. And now it’s awesome :)

    learning is fun

  • Isil November 7th, 2012 6:06 PM

    With the French kiss issue, I can tell that it depends on who you kiss from my experiences. If you are dating with somebody if you don’t feel that much chemical attraction between you and him the kiss is not working with you. I was dating a guy three or four years ago and he have been a good friend for me, but he has fallen in love with me than I give him a try than we dated like a year but I’ve never felt anything when we kiss (although I was thinking that I love him, I realized it later that I am just addicted to him) and sometimes I thought “maybe I’m into girls?”. But now I’m dating another guy from college and I really like him, and the kissing parts is really good actually.

    • Isil November 7th, 2012 6:09 PM

      That moment when you realized you wrote “than” instead of “then”…

  • Rushmore November 7th, 2012 6:59 PM

    When I was 15 I started taking anxiety medication recommended by my doctor. I experienced horrible side effects that were never explained to me and after less than a year I decided I was better off without them. I had ended up gaining 25 pounds in less than a year. I felt horrified about what had happened to my body and in an effort to just go back to my initial weight I started jogging around the block for a half hour every other day and being a little more conscious about what I was eating (and completely cutting out crap like sods) but still eating 3 square meals a day. During this time, my mother would make “helpful” comments about how concerned she was about the weight gain. My mother herself, was actually overweight. She would confront me about the jogging and the notebooks where I’d count the calories I was eating and accused me of having an eating disorder. Basically, nothing could please this woman, either I was too fat, or she was bizarrely jealous of the fact that I was taking an active role in losing the weight, instead if just putting myself down, which she would often do to herself.

  • Lentil November 7th, 2012 7:03 PM

    re: Niki / IUDs

    If you decide, after researching various methods, that and IUD would work best for you, keep in mind that MANY doctors will discourage them and/or refuse to prescribe them for young women. This is mostly because the old kind (that isn’t even available anymore) had a higher risk of causing infertility than other types of birth control, but the kinds available today in the U.S. are quite safe! If your doctor won’t prescribe one, you can try another doctor if you are able, or if your insurance or lack thereof is like most people’s and doesn’t let you see different doctors, try Planned Parenthood – they have a sliding scale for all services and they are very good at keeping up with the latest birth control research. (They also have free condoms!)

    • Clare November 7th, 2012 8:22 PM

      My cousin was on birth control for a while, but the hormones really screwed her up, and she really hated it. So she got an IUD and she loves being off the pill. Just an anecdote.

  • Clare November 7th, 2012 8:21 PM

    Oh my gosh thank you so much, to Danielle, and everyone in the comments. It means so much to me to have this little girl-love hidey hole in the internet. You were all so sweet and supportive, I teared up a bit. Thanks again!

  • smallsauropod November 7th, 2012 8:22 PM

    Hey, I just want to reiterate the “listen to your body” message brought up by some others. I went on the pill for the same reason Niki is considering it – I wanted to be doubled up on birth control methods. I have a lot of friends who had nothing but great experiences on the pill, but for me… it was terrible. The good news is that for the first time, my acne almost totally cleared up! The bad news was that I was a weird combination of moody and apathetic, and my sex drive plummeted. I used to joke that it really was the perfect method of birth control, because I didn’t want to have sex, and I was too much of a jerk for anyone to want to have sex with me. Not. Pleasant.

    Seems like a lot of people are either all for hormonal birth control, or totally against it. I think it can be great when it’s great, but you need to be ready to listen to your body if it isn’t great for you. Your body is, after all, a big part of what having sex is all about.

  • junebuggg November 7th, 2012 8:49 PM

    On French kissing:
    It gets better!!

  • loulaninaloul November 7th, 2012 9:06 PM

    Yes. I had my first few french kisses/hook-ups this summer. The handholding/hooking up/cuddling/touching part was lovely and amazing, but the actual frenching was really, really weird. it felt very intrusive. it kind of reminded me of magic schoolbus when they go inside a person’s body. i don’t want to know what your teeth feel like or have your tongue in my mouth!

    i wonder if that’s why boys are so eager to do it, because it reminds them of intercourse or something.

  • Stasia November 8th, 2012 10:29 AM

    I wanted to get behind the above advice about listening to your body when working out a method of birth control. If something doesn’t feel right to you, absolutely tell your doctor because there are lots of options! I actually found that hormonal birth control (I was originally on Yasmin, later switched to the ring for convenience) improved my mood. Pre-birth control I had a pretty predictable week-long crying jag before every period. That went away after I got on the pill, and stayed that way even when I switched to the ring. That wasn’t my reason for starting BC, so the dramatic change surprised me. I’m never going back.

    That said, birth control is a really individual thing. I’ve had great success on the ring, but when my roommate tried it she felt really moody/unhappy until she switched to a pill that suited her better.

  • katie November 8th, 2012 1:44 PM

    clare and danielle, i cried my face off reading your part of this article. cried for Clare because as a girl who has struggled with food issues and disorders for years, i could never be be strong as you. i hope your mother comes to be more understanding and sympathetic.

    danielle, i cried harder because that was a perfect answer. i hope someday we live in a body-positive society where fat shaming is a relic of an antiquated, foolish past.

    its articles like this that make rookie so important and revolutionary. i am proud, even though i am no longer a teenager, to support and recommend rookie to everyone i have ever met.

    even tho nobody will read this bottom comment!

    • emmycait November 9th, 2012 12:20 AM

      I just wanted you to know that I read your comment and I know you can be just as strong as Clare. Just remember you’ve always got support here! <3

  • Yani November 10th, 2012 4:45 AM

    hey all, again.

    I just watched erin brockovich and looked her up out of interest. turns out she is doing some investigating into pharmaceuticals including some big Pill brands. which jogged my memory about this discussion, and it might be of interest to some Rookie readers…

  • staotla November 24th, 2012 8:30 PM

    Dear Rookie, for about two weeks ago or maybe even more a haven’t talked to a group of friends that I usually talk to during breaking manly because a couple of weeks ago we all went to the bathroom together as we usually do and then while we were there one of them talk and told me “Could you please change how you dress, not your style just how you dress because people are talking about you behind your back and it’s kind of embarrassing us.” When they said I was such in shock that I haven’t really talked to them ever since but recently two of them have started talking to me and I really don’t want to. What should I do? Should I confront them about the problem or should I just keep ignoring them?

    • Anaheed November 26th, 2012 4:03 AM

      Frankly they sound like a-holes! You have no obligation to talk to them, ever, if you don’t want to (which you say you don’t — with good reason).

  • littleplasticrose January 31st, 2013 6:35 AM

    “For instance, even though Ortho Tri-Cyclen is specifically approved for acne, all birth control has the same likelihood to help with your skin, because they all work the same way”

    I loved this article but this one bit is actually not true. Now I have no idea why Ortho is given for acne, and what you said about everyone reacting differently is entirely true.

    HOWEVER, there ARE two birth control pills which are specifically formulated to treat moderate acne in women: Dianette (co-cyprindiol) and Yasmin/Yaz/etc.

    They each contain a type of progesterone which has anti-androgen properties. Androgens are male hormones, like testosterone, which affect the growth and oil production of your skin. All women produce androgens to some extent, but some women either produce too much or are more sensitive to their effects and this can contribute to acne. These pills reduce the effects of those androgens and can therefore help to treat acne in women.

    Now, because they also contain estrogen, these pills are just effective as other contraceptives. But you cannot get either of them prescribed solely as a birth control pill here in the UK, because they are thought to be associated with more serious side effects than other birth control pills, although they are still very rare.

    The point is, while regular birth control pills CAN sometimes help with acne by evening out your hormone levels over the month, they don’t have any anti-androgenic effect, so they won’t clear up your skin to the same extent as these ones do.

    • Lola January 31st, 2013 12:44 PM

      hey! i appreciate you dropping some beautiful science here.

      everything you say is true. i should have been way more specific and not so US-centric when i said “approved for.” in america, where i’m writing from, up until very recently (just checked!) only ortho-tricyclen was FDA approved for the treatment of acne. now it’s ortho tri-cyclen, yaz & the yaz family, and estro-step. as you write, and as it’s always been prescribed, there are plenty of pills that work for acne, but the more anti-androgenic progestins (there are several) are thought to work better.

      as far as i’ve been able to find, we don’t have dianette or any other pills that contain co-cyprinidol in the US. thanks for letting me know.

      • littleplasticrose February 3rd, 2013 12:14 AM

        It probably got banned. France just banned it too, because of scares over blood clots. Yaz is also being investigated about that. Basically we know that the newer types of pill seem to have a higher risk of clots than the older/original ones like Microgynon.

        Anyway, I had fairly severe acne from the age of 11 to 24 (yep that long) and Dianette really, really helped, but they made me come off it after a couple of years because of the risk of blood clots.

        It wasn’t enough for me in the end, I needed a course of Accutane/Isotretinoin (well two actually) but omg so worth it to have clear skin FINALLY.