Girls have different problems and often different ways of dealing with them. For a start, they usually talk about what's bothering them.

GTRT is for teenagers and about all sorts of stuff which happens to both girls and lads. But blokes often don't see things the same, or deal with it the same way, and there is proper "girly" stuff you need the female view on.

If you think what you find here is stuff they ought to know about, then make sure they see it, too

And don't be afraid to enter the "Boys Zone" (Boys don't cry?) because Girls are Allowed (Aloud - get it?) and there may be things you didn't know about them which make it easier for you all to understand each other.

So what bothers girls?

Very often, weight, looks, sex and boys. How they look and how they feel, being judged by that, how their friends treat them, being bullied, and often, what boys think of them, for starters. Being required to be a bimbo, or being treated like one when they're not.

TeensHealth has a straightforward section "body" which covers stuff like choosing the right fitting bra, tampons and period supplies, cellulite, tanning and all kinds of other stuff. They also have a special girl section on sexual health. The site is from the USA but the information is universal.

Find special "girl" stuff from NHS Choices information and advice for teenage girls, including contraception, pregnancy, smoking, healthy eating, STIs, puberty, drugs, acne and bullying. YOu can also take a lifecheck from NHS Choices to see how you could improve your general health.

Body image and self esteem are common concerns for girls who can feel under a lot of pressure to look a certain way. This can encourage unhealthy eating patterns which develop into full blown eating disorders, or self-harm. It is very important to love yourself, to accept your shape and size and deal with your appearance sensibly for the right reasons - your own reasons - and not other people's approval or acceptance, especially what the media tells you should be desirable.

It makes sense to look after your body, eat properly, get enough sleep and exercise because it makes YOU feel and look better. Keeping your skin and hair in good shape is the same. Make the best of what you have, and understand that perfection is not possible and you should not feel obliged to try for it.

There is a big backlash growing against stick thin models and the fashion industry which preys on girls of primary school age upwards, the beauty products which tell you that you need them to look perfect. Perfection is not attainable and you can spend every waking moment and every penny still trying to get there and feeling more miserable because you didn't. See clever marketing for what it is. Watch this video "11 Facts about Body Image":

It's who you are and not how you look which really counts

 

Weighing a couple of pounds more or less than your mates or using a different shampoo does not define who you are, nor whether your clothes are designer labels, or from George at Asda. Operation Beautiful is an initiative to put positive messages in the sight of normal women and girls, and they say "change the way you see - not the way you look".

The flip side of all this is that you may feel you have problems being taken seriously for your academic abilities rather than your looks, and this is just as big a problem to a capable girl. You need the same encouragement to feel accepted for who you are not how you look, and to make the most of the oportunities to develop your talents to the full.

How great is your mum? She's very likely to have been through everything you are experiencing now and if you can talk to her, maybe she can help you. She'd probably like to. Here's journalist and mum Kaz Cooke's list of 10  things you must tell your teenage girl. And if your mum isn't there for you, find someone else who is, when you need someone older to talk to. Aunties, big sisters, friends' mums, teachers, guide leaders, or go for the counselling services and helplines we list on GTRT.  

caring girlsGTRT on self esteem has videos exposing the media hypocrisy and general advice on feeling good about yourself, including hanging out with friends who make you feel better not worse, recognising and using your strengths instead of your weaknesses, and developing your talents.

We made a separate page for lads because too often people don't recognise that they might get just as worried or upset as girls but they are mostly afraid to show it, whereas girls find it hard NOT to show it! So to make it fair we also made a special section for girls , but most likely apart from stuff like periods and bras there isn't much difference in what affects boys and girls, so we suggest that these pages might be useful if you didn't already look at them:

This last one is sometimes made worse by coming from a home and family which is culturally different and where violence is justified by "honour", girls and women forcibly married, and domestic abuse is a form of control. If this applies to you or someone you know get help.  Aanchal Women's Aid offer help in several mainly Asian languages. Culture and religion are no excuse for breaking the law and you do not have to put up with being  treated badly.

Another awful possibility is being forced into prostitution by anyone in this country and into whose clutches you have fallen, or being brought or smuggled into the country specifically for that or other illegal purposes - this is "human trafficking" and if it has happened to you or someone you get to know, get help.  See the human trafficking section on the being abused page. Likewise, if you think you or someone else is going to be taken out of the country with that intention of forcing them into marriage, prostitution or any other form of human trafficking, tell someone who can stop this happening. It is against the law and human rights and is the modern equivalent of the slave trade where people are bought and sold.

Sadly sometimes women and girls are discriminated against just for being female and the concept of equal opportunities is still not a complete reality. Apart from the legal side of this, concentrate on being the best at what you can and are, without feeling you have to compete or be anything you are not or don't want to be. Careers for girls used to be pretty boring but nowadays you can learn to be pretty much anything you want. You shouldn't feel expected to be brilliant at something you don't want, any more than you should be held back from being brilliant at it if you DO want. Equal opportunities should give you the freedom, not the obligation, to choose freely, where being female is not a handicap, an excuse or an unfair advantage!

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do".  Edward Everett Hale (ok, he was a man but it means the same!)

"Being a man or a woman is a matter of birth. Being a man or a woman who makes a difference is a matter of choice."  Byron Garrett

And finishing on a postive note, think about the women who changed history and still are doing, the ones who made us laugh and wrote great books, who were brave, generous or clever. And nobody cares what they look like. If you haven't heard of them, look them up and see what a big difference they made, including in times when women were expected to stay at home and shut up! Here's some to think about:

  • Joan of Arc, aged 19, was burnt at the stake in the 15th century for refusing to back down after leading an army in several battles.
  • Florence Nightingale revolutionised nursing care during the Crimean War.
  • Marie Curie performed outstanding work in radiation and won two Nobel prizes.
  • Marie Stopes founded, along with her husband, the first birth control clinic in the Uk.
  • Emmeline Pankhurst women got the vote in England because of her Suffragette movement who felt so strongly some activists risked imprisonment,were badly injured or died trying to influence the government.
  • Mother Teresa spent years as a nun in India working with the poor and the sick, refusing recognition or reward.
  • Anne Frank teenage Jewish diarist forced to hide with her family in a secret room in Amsterdam during the 2nd world war, before they were eventually discovered and taken to the death camps.
  • Jasvinder Sanghera co-founder of Karma Nirvana which helps victims of violence and forced marriage, herself a survivor.
  • Jessica Ennis 2012 Olympic gold medallist.
  • Dawn French comedian, actress and writer, adoptive mother.
  • Shappi Khorsandi comedian, arrived in England from Iran as a very young child with her family just before the Shah was overthrown and they were unable to return because her father criticised the Ayatollah who seized power.
  • J K Rowling single mum and author of the Harry Potter series.
  • Katie Piper hailed as a modern day hero in the 2012 Pride of Britain awards. She was badly disfigured in an acid attack by her boyfriend but has undergone many operations to repair the damage and set up a foundation to help other burn and scar victims.

Who's next - you? 

The page was last updated on 10 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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