Answering questions girls are embarrassed to ask

"Body Drama," a new book by Nancy Redd geared toward teenage girls, offers answers (and photos) on everything from pubic hair to third nipples.

Published November 27, 2007 1:40PM (EST)

A few weeks ago, after I wrote a post about Tyra Banks' show featuring a vulva puppet, I received an e-mail from a woman named Nancy Redd. She was happy to have seen the post, she said, but also wanted to let me know that there would soon be less of a need for vulva puppets because she was about to come out with a book called "Body Drama" that, as she put it, featured photos of "boobs, vaginas, and everything in between." Lest that sound weird, I should point out that "Body Drama" is a "photographic body, health and self-esteem book for young women." Redd, who's a 26-year-old Harvard graduate and former Miss Virginia, wanted to write a book that would help teenage girls find answers to the questions they had about their own bodies (e.g., Why do I sweat so much? Why is one breast bigger than the other? My vagina smells -- what's going on?) -- not to mention provide photographs of real (as opposed to airbrushed) photographs of female bodies -- and provide some solid health advice. Because, as Redd herself puts it in the book's introduction, "our educational system spends millions of dollars creating detailed health programs, but those programs skip over the basic ABCs of basic body smarts. We've been so focused (and understandably so) on sexual education that we've completey ignored body education ... How can we respect and protect our bodies if we don't know what real bodies look like? If we can hardly utter the word vagina, much less peek at it without feeling dirty, how can we own and love it and ourselves?"

I don't know about you all, but when I hit puberty and my mom slipped me a copy of "What's Happening to My Body? Book for Girls," I was so fascinated that I read it cover to cover, but was so embarrassed by the entire concept of puberty that I slipped it inside a magazine so that my parents couldn't see what I was looking at. (I'm not kidding -- I treated it as if it were porn.) I would have loved to have a book, written by someone who presumably is completely confident about her own body (she won the swimsuit competition, after all), that addressed all the questions I had about my changing body.

"Body Drama" isn't coming out till Dec. 27, but if you're holiday shopping, you can still preorder it. If I had a young teenage girl in my life, this would be at the top of my list of gifts for her -- especially if her copy of Cricket magazine had suddenly developed a mysterious bulge.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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