The Evolution Of Puberty Advice: What "The Care and Keeping Of You" Got Right — And Wrong
This past September, the puberty Bible, aka American Girl's The Care and Keeping of You, turned 25, and well, I feel old. Sure, it has about a year on me in terms of age, but I still remember getting this book when my body started changing, and prematurely grabbing for razors. And based on the fact the #CareAndKeepingOfYou hashtag has 10 million videos on TikTok, it's clear that the book was a rite of passage for many of us.
It might have gotten an update (and a sequel) in the last decade, but in honor of the original book's silver anniversary, I couldn't help but wonder if our North Star of puberty knowledge was really as outdated as we might expect. So, I took the courtesy of thumbing through the book to see which pages should be ripped out — and which are cemented in my brain forever.
Out With The Old, In With The New
Image via American Girl
Let's face it: The Care and Keeping of You was groundbreaking when it first hit the shelves in 1998. It addressed the questions about our changing bodies that were often too embarrassing to ask anyone else, assuming every girl would inevitably have a crush on boys. While the assumption was safe for the time, we now live in a society where it's not unusual for girls to like girls or not even have those feelings at all. From relationships to hair care and healthy eating, it's time for an update that reflects the diversity of our experiences.
As time has passed, some of the book's information has become as dated as our first Tamagotchis. Like how it talks about the importance of the low-fat diet of the '90s. But we know that not all fats are created equal, and some healthy fats are essential for our well-being.
The book's beauty advice, while helpful at the time, could also use an update. With the skincare industry evolving rapidly, the basics of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing now come with a side of serums, SPF, and more advanced techniques that weren't widely known back then. But we also didn't need to worry about a 10-step skincare routine at that age. What's a pimple when you have quirky pimple patches like Starface?
Which Chapters In "The Care And Keeping Of You" Have Stood The Test Of Time?
Now, let's focus on the pages that are still as golden as they were 25 years ago. The sections on self-care, body positivity, and understanding your emotions remain timeless. The importance of self-love, building self-esteem, and embracing your individuality are messages that will never go out of style, and reading about those concepts at a young age laid the perfect foundation for us as we got older.
The book's advice on dealing with body image issues, friendships, and self-confidence are like fine wine — they've only gotten better with age. In an age of social media and unrealistic beauty standards, these life lessons are more valuable than ever. And honestly, they're still helpful today!
And let's not forget the guidance on menstrual hygiene. While there have been advancements in period products, like menstrual cups and period underwear, the basics of understanding your menstrual cycle and how to take care of your body during your period are still as relevant today as they were in 1998.
The Care and Keeping of You is like that old friend who slid you that emergency pad underneath the bathroom stall. While some of the content has aged (looking at you JNCO jeans), the core messages of self-love, self-acceptance, and understanding your body remain as relevant as ever.
In today's world, we could use a fresh take on puberty guidance that addresses the unique challenges young girls face in the digital age. But let's not forget to cherish the book that was our guiding light through those awkward years. It paved the way for open conversations about our bodies, did the groundwork for sex education, and set the stage for a healthier, more informed generation of young women.
So, happy belated 25th birthday to The Care and Keeping of You. You may have a few laughable outdated sections, but you've also left an indelible mark on countless women. Here's to the next 25 years of growth, change, and timeless advice for the girls who need it most.
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Lead image via American Girl