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Deal with It!: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a gURL

Deal with It!: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a gURL

by Esther Drill, Rebecca Odes, Heather McDonald

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Deal With It! offers a whole new approach for dealing with your life as a girl. It's a resource to help you learn about, laugh about, and figure out the stuff you go through on your way through life. It won't tell you what to do, because you'll need to decide that for yourself. But whether you're wondering about your body, your feelings or your changing


Deal With It! offers a whole new approach for dealing with your life as a girl. It's a resource to help you learn about, laugh about, and figure out the stuff you go through on your way through life. It won't tell you what to do, because you'll need to decide that for yourself. But whether you're wondering about your body, your feelings or your changing relationships with the people around you, this book provides accurate information and outlines your options. Hilarious illustrations point out the humor in even the sorriest situations. And with hundreds of excerpts from real-girl conversations on the gURL.com website, you can see for real that whatever you're going through, you're not alone. This book is for anyone who needs to know what it means to be a girl — from those on the edge of their teens to those who are way past them but still reeling from the trauma.

Editorial Reviews

BUST Magazine
Ladies, step one in our mission to take over the world has been accomplished: Deal with It is now available to every girl on the planet....You need to get six or seven copies right now and give them to every punk rocker, girl scout, hippie chick and geekgirl you know.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following a recent trend, Web gurus Drill, McDonald and Odes have translated their highly popular Web site, gURL.com, into print, taking a holistic approach to those perennial teen concerns: changing bodies, emotions, desires and lives. In a frank, nonjudgmental tone, they discuss topics and details that more conservative guides might skip: lesbianism and bisexuality receive respectful and thorough treatment that is remarkably well-integrated into the broader discussion of sex in this happily nonphallocentric book; the section on illegal drugs is evenhanded; and the discussion of treatments of eating disorders, other mental illnesses and suicide are honest and informative. Each section ends with a comprehensive list of topical resources: Web sites, hot lines, books and organizations. In addition to the authors' valuable commentary, a good deal of the text is made up of outtakes from girls' online dialogues culled from the site, revealing a thoughtful and supportive cybercommunity able to respond unflinchingly to the many issues covered. Young readers, liberal parents and educators will welcome the authors' openness and lack of boosterism . Full-color illustrations throughout. Agent, Julie Merberg, Roundtable Press, Inc.; 5-city author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This sumptuously colorful and solid puberty guide for girls gets high marks for comprehensiveness and attention to detail about physical development, sex, emotions, drugs, family, friends, relationships, school, spirituality, politics and activism, "being yourself," and money. The main messages concern accepting diversity in bodies and lifestyles, taking responsibility, and finding help when you need it. The diversity message is enhanced with numerous "we've been there" quotes posted to the gURL.com web site, while the "finding help" message is enhanced by many internal cross references and extensive referrals to books, organizations, and other web sites. Lesbian and bisexuality issues are well covered, and interesting sections address less common topics like how ideals of beauty have varied across history and how the "perfect look" in every fashion photo is carefully and artificially crafted by the full-time work of a dozen people. The authors founded and now run gURL.com, which has won several awards. Highly recommended for all public libraries.--Martha Cornog, Philadelphia Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kathryn Harrison
The most beguiling aspect of this book is that it is written in large part by its own audience, veering disarmingly from the trivial to the critical̶just like your best girlfriend. From deciding just how many hairs to pluck to confronting an unwanted pregnancy, girlhood can be treacherous. In three years my own daughter will be a teenager. Deal With It! is one lifeline I plan to throw her.


Product Details

Gallery Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.75(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Boobs get a lot of attention. There's a certain amount of biological motivation for this — breasts are the first source of human nourishment — but that's only the beginning.

The stress on boobs in our society creates a lot of stress for girls who are growing them. You don't have much control over your breast development and the outcome can be unpredictable.

When boobs start popping up left and right, they can be hard to ignore. Whatever your specific situation, shape, or size, your boobs are bound to be an important part of your female identity.

Growing Them

Breasts start to grow in response to an increase in the hormone estrogen, which causes the growth of mammary glands (which produce milk) and also signals cushions of fat to grow and surround those glands. Much of the volume of the breast comes from these cushions of fat. Also inside the breast is a network of milk ducts connected to the milk-producing glands, which are ready to send milk out of the nipple when it comes time to nurse a baby.

There are roughly five stages of breast development. Everyone goes through them at her own rate. Some girls may go through the whole process in a couple of months and can actually seem to bypass whole stages; others can take almost 10 years to get from the beginning to the (relatively) final product.

Stage I The first stage usually starts between ages 8 and 11 (although it can come earlier or later). During this stage, there are no visible signs of development. Inside the body, though, puberty is beginning. The ovaries enlarge and estrogen begins to circulate.

Stage 2 The first visible thing that happens is the nipple and the areola (the skin around the nipple) get larger and maybe a bit darker. They may also feel tender or ache a little. It can hurt to sleep on your stomach or wear certain clothes.

Next, milk ducts and fat tissue form a little, round, dense, disklike mound under each nipple and areola, making them stick out. One disk might form before the other, even as much as a year earlier. These disks can often feel like lumps.

Stage 3 Fat deposits now start to fill out the area around the nipple and areola. At this stage, many girls' breasts appear pointy. The amount of fat and where it grows vary and will determine the size and shape of your breasts. This is the time when many girls think about wearing a bra.

Stage 4 Not everyone goes through Stage 4. If you do, you will observe that your nipple and areola begin to form a separate mound at the end of your breast and get bigger and more pronounced. Some women keep this characteristic permanently. The breasts continue to fill out and grow larger. (If you didn't get your period during stage 3, you probably will now.)

Stage 5 By the time you reach stage 5, what you see could be what you get. Breast size can change during a woman's adult life, however. Generally the causes of this are hormonal (birth control pills, pregnancy) or changes in body weight, although there are a significant number of women whose breasts continue to change throughout their twenties.

Shapes and Sizes

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one normal boob profile. And nobody notices the idiosyncrasies of your boobs like you do. The timing of your boob development makes no difference in what they end up looking like. Breasts also go through cyclical changes with the menstrual cycle. They tendto get a little fuller and more sensitive leading up to the period and staypretty te der until the period is over. After the period they settle down to their less-full form.


Your whole body (eyes, ears, etc.) is asymmetrical and chances are that there are some subtle differences between your two breasts, too. In some people it's enough to be noticeable, but almost never dramatically so. In rare instances, a right and left boob may vary a cup size or more. Very occasionally a girl will wear a prosthesis or even have surgery to even out a severe difference in size. Generally, though, it's one of those things that is a lot less noticeable to everyone else in the world than to the bearer of the boobs in question.


Nipples also come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Some nipples are particularly sensitive to outside stimuli.

Changing What You've Got

There's a long historical tradition of women making more or less of their bustlines than nature provides.

Breast enhancers

"Breast enhancers," which aren't that different from the actual implants inserted during surgery, are worn on the outside of the body and are available for purchase in the backs of magazines and at drugstores, promising every girl the silhouette she has always wanted. These products are obviously safer and cheaper than actual implants, but they don't change the way you look without a bra on.

Breast implants

First of all, no one NEEDS breast implants. Women may feel that their life enjoyment is being diminished by insufficient cup size. But that's kind of a limited way of thinking — do you really want to give that much power to two lumps of fat sitting on your chest?

The decision of whether to alter your body for a cosmetic reason is a serious and personal one. Some women have had terrible health problems as a result of getting breast implants, although scientifically the jury is still out on whether they are dangerous. In any event, it's a good idea to wait a while before taking such a drastic step. Most reputable plastic surgeons won't even consider breast implants on a woman younger than 18. The way people feel about their bodies changes over time, and making a big, unnatural, permanent change now might be something you could later regret. Besides, you might still be growing.

Having bigger boobs won't change the kind of person you are, and if it does make more boys notice you, it might not be for the reason you want them to.

Breast reduction

Some women are physically challenged by the large size of their breasts. These problems can include chronic neck and back pain; poor posture; rashes, pain, and discomfort during exercise; and bra straps that actually cut grooves in their shoulders. Some of these women opt for breast reduction surgery to have some of the breast tissue removed. Women who have had breast reduction are said to be about the happiest plastic surgery patients afterward. Reduction surgery can leave significant scarring, usually in an inverted T-shape from the nipple to the underside of the breast, and may affect breast feeding later.

Boobs in society

There are plenty of reasons people like breasts, and focus on them accordingly. Some trace it back to infant oral fixations. Others think it may be the round shapes that are pleasing to the senses. Breasts are the most visible sexual organs. While other sexual organs are developing at the same time, they are (generally) kept under wraps and are not able to be seen. Breasts, on the other hand, make themselves known. Boobs certainly get their fair share of media attention, and the recent explosion of public breast enlargements makes them more obvious than ever. Historically, though, a variety of sizes and shapes of breasts have been considered ideal. Not all cultures share the American fixation on boobs, either. Many European countries present a more integrated view of the female body, and women appear topless on public beaches and in advertisements. On a more personal level, different people are attracted to different breast attributes (just as some people may have a preference for a certain eye color).

But many people seem to think that breasts in general are pretty great, whatever the particulars may be.

Lumps and bumps

The vast majority of lumps and bumps in the breast, at any age, are harmless. Breast budding in the early stages of breast development can often feel like a lump. At certain times of the month, especially before their periods, some women develop cysts — small fluid-containing sacs. They are usually found near the armpits, can hurt a little, and disappear within a few days.

Show your doctor any lump that does not disappear within a few days; it is probably nothing to worry about. Breast cancer is obviously a scary and serious disease, which affects one in eight women over the course of a lifetime. But it is extremely, extremely rare in teenagers.

Fibrocystic breasts

Many girls and women develop lumpiness in their breasts due to hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle. Women with fibrocystic breasts have denser fibrous material in between the fatty deposits in their breasts, so it's more likely to become tangled up into knots. Fibrocystic lumps are not cancerous, although the first time you notice them, you may want to have them checked out.

All women experience some such cystic changes: lumpiness, tenderness, swelling. Eventually, you should get to know your own patterns of lumpiness.

Breast pain

Most girls experience some occasional breast pain — most often before a period or during the early stages of breast development. If the pain is really plaguing you, happens at irregular times not linked to your cycle, or is much more pronounced in one breast, it's worth mentioning to your doctor, who may suggest cutting down on caffeine or taking vitamin E supplements and primrose oil.

Discharge or bleeding

Some discharge from the nipple can be brought on by hormonal fluctuations, but both discharge and bleeding that lasts for more than a week should be checked out with a doctor.

Chafed nipples

Nipples stick out and can rub against your clothes and sometimes get irritated, dry and crack, and even bleed a bit. Wearing soft fabrics or natural fibers can help. It can also help to put ointment, lanolin preparations, or even flavor — free lip balm on irritated areas.

Inverted nipples

Some nipples do not stick out; instead, they appear to stick in (inverted nipples). This is not uncommon. Some nipples may go from "innies" to "outies" during the course of development. Once your breasts are fully developed, usually at age 18, any sudden changes should be reported to your doctor.

Hairy nipples

Some girls grow a few dark hairs around the areola, the area surrounding the nipple. You may be tempted to tweeze them, but that could lead to ingrown hairs and infection. They can be trimmed or zapped with electrolysis — or left hanging.

Stretch marks

When boobs, or any parts of the body, grow fast, the skin has to stretch to keep up. Sometimes the skin is not quite elastic enough to do that, and purplish lines, called stretch marks, may appear where the skin has been stretched. These are not uncommon, and they do fade with time, although not always entirely.

How to give a breast self-exam

Breast cancer, though not a big concern to teenagers, is a prospect that all adult women need to be aware of. There are all sorts of studies linking breast cancer with heredity, diet, hormonal imbalances, and lifestyle. New treatments and medical breakthroughs hold some promise in eventually defeating this disease, but nothing beats early detection. That's why your first line of defense against breast cancer is monthly self-examination. You can start as soon as your breasts are fully developed.

Breast self-exams should be done at the same time of the month every month, right after your period ends, when the breasts are neither tender nor swollen.

1. Lie down on your back; put your right arm over your head and a pillow under your right shoulder.

2. With the three middle fingers of your left hand, feel for lumps or thickened tissue in your right breast, using a firm circular motion radiating out from the nipple. Press hard enough to familiarize yourself with how your breast feels, but not so hard that it hurts.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for your left breast.

4. Standing and looking in a mirror, check your breasts for any surface anomalies like puckering, dimpling, or swelling. Do this with your arms at your sides, with them stretched above your head, and with your hands on your hips while flexing your chest muscles.


Whether or when to wear a bra is an entirely personal decision. Some, especially larger-breasted women, find they are more comfortable with their boobs strapped in and supported, since there's less jiggling and bouncing that way. Many women also find it more comfortable to wear a bra when jogging or doing other kinds of exercise. Some women are more comfortable going braless.

The jury is still out about whether wearing a bra in fact prevents eventual sagging. Some experts say it can help preserve some of the elasticity of the tissue and the ligaments that hold the breast up. But others say that over the long haul, gravity, wear and tear, motherhood, and changes in size brought on by weight gain and loss all take their toll, no matter how often a woman has worn a bra.

The shape of a nipple — which can stiffen if it's cold or aroused — is less visible underneath a bra, if that's something you care about.

Girls usually experiment to figure out which kind of bra suits them. Bras can make your boobs look bigger or smaller or otherwise different. There's a veritable smorgasbord of silhouette-altering brassieres at your disposal.


American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) provides information on all aspects of women's health, including maintaining healthy breasts. Address: 801 North Fairfax St., Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314. Phone: 703-838-0500. Website: http://www.amwa-doc.org.

Breast Cancer Information Clearinghouse (BCIC), NYSERNet, Inc., 200 Elwood Davis Rd., Suite 103, Liverpool, NY 13088. Phone: 315-453-2912, ext. 225.

National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) provides information to anyone with questions about breast cancer. Address: 9 East 37th St., 10th floor, New York, NY 10016. Phone: 800-719-9154. Website: http://www.nabco.org.

National Women's Health Network is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide women with a greater voice in the health care system. Address: 514 Tenth St., NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20004. Phone: 202-347-1140 for information regarding legislation.

Society for the Study of Breast Disease, 3409 Worth, Suite 300, Sammons Tower, Dallas, TX 75246. Phone: 214-821-2962.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the sponsor of Race for the Cure, seeks to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advocating research, screening, and education. Address: 5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 370, Dallas, TX 74244. Phone: 972-855-1600 or 800-IMAWARE for the national breast care help line. Website: http://www.breastcancerinfo.com.

Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization provides peer counseling, referrals, and written information for breast cancer survivors, patients, family, and friends. Address: 212 West Van Buren, Chicago, IL 60607. Phone: 800-221-2141 (English) or 800-986-9505 (Spanish). Website: http://www.y-me.org/index.html.

Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) at http://wwww.acor.org provides cancer information and electronic support groups.

Virtual Kid Puberty 101 at http://www.virtualkid.com covers all the changes in your body, including the stages of breast development.

Breasts: Our Most Public Private Parts by Meema Spadola (Wildcat Canyon Press, 1998). Based on a documentary this book tells people's personal stories about breasts-from adolescents to older women.

Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book by Susan M. Love (Perseus Press, 1995). Comprehensive reference on all things relating to breasts, including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and research.

Copyright © 1999 by gURL and Roundtable Press

Meet the Author

gURL.com, launched in 1996, is the leading website for teenage girls. It has been featured in Seventeen, YM, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The New Yorker and the New York Times, among other publications.

The founders received the New York Magazine Award in 1997 for their work on gURL.com. The gURL website received a 1998 webby Award.

Heather McDonald is a full-time writer, performer, and story producer on E! Channel’s top rated show—Chelsea Lately, and stars in the show’s spin-off, After Lately. Heather has been married to Peter for twelve years, with whom she has two sons and a stepdaughter. They reside in the San Fernando Valley.

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