Your Changing Body

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Body Hair

It's different for everyone, but the first change you might notice is the appearance of body hair. You'll start to get it between your legs and under your arms. Your leg and arm hair may also become thicker and possibly darker.

Pubic hair (the hair between your legs) grows in varying thicknesses, but it starts out fine and straight, becoming coarser, curlier and darker over time. Usually, it's in the shape of an upside-down triangle, starting from a few inches below your navel. It may spread onto your inner thighs and in a line up to your belly button.

If your extra body hair bothers you, you can talk to your mom or a friend about shaving. Most girls prefer to shave or wax the hair from their underarms and legs, but there's no law that says you have to do so. Some also choose to remove some or all of their pubic hair, but that's also a personal choice. To hear what some of our other panelists take care of theirs, read "To Groom or Not To Groom".

Breasts

As you enter puberty, you'll probably be concerned about whether or not you're developing breasts. The most obvious external sign of "womanhood", breasts can be a source of anxiety, embarrassment or even pride, depending on how you feel when you get them. There is no set age for breast development - it's different for every girl.

Before puberty starts, you have nipples but not much else. Eventually, you'll develop breast buds, which look like raised bumps under the nipple. As your breasts grow, the nipples and areola (the pinkish-brown circle around each nipple) may grow darker and larger.

You might notice that one breast is developing faster than the other. Don't worry about it - it's totally normal. They'll most likely even out in time, but it's not uncommon for a woman to have a slightly mismatched pair. Again, it's nothing to be concerned about.

Don't worry about size, either. As you and your friends start developing, it's easy to fall into a pattern of comparing yourself to others. Breasts come in all different sizes - there is no perfect size. Whether you're an A or a DD cup, getting a bra that fits properly can go a long way to make you feel happy and comfortable with the bustline you have.

Growth Spurts

About the time you start developing breasts, you may start growing taller. You could grow up to 6 inches in a year! You may also notice curves that weren't there before, as your waist and hips might become more defined. You might gain a little weight, too, as your new frame starts to "fill out."

Acne

When you hit puberty, oil glands in your skin kick into overdrive, sending oil to the pores on the surface of your skin. Sometimes the pores get clogged up - with oil, dead skin, dirt and bacteria - causing pimples. Keeping your skin clean and avoiding oil-based products can help keep pimples from forming. Some women grow out of this and others still get a pimple or two about the same time each month.

Genitals

Most girls are usually too preoccupied with the other physical changes in their body to think about their genitals, but those are changing, too. The vulva (the outer parts or "lips" of your genitals) will grow larger and more pronounced. The skin may also become darker, and your inner labia (the area directly around the opening of your vagina) will become more obvious, too.

Talk About It

Whether you're excited or scared by the changes in your body, you don't have to go through them alone. Believe it or not, your mom was once a girl, too. She went through pimples and growth spurts and training bras just like you will. So, if you have questions or concerns about how your body is changing, just ask her (or a health professional or a friend). Or ask our Real Answer panelists. Talking about it can help you understand how to deal with - and feel good about - your changing body.

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@kiyara: NO ONE should pressure you to have sex until you are absolutely ready to do so. It is a big deal emotionally and physically, and you want your sexual experiences to be healthy and positive. If you need extra support, I recommend that you speak to

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