Last night I was at the gym and literally a 7-foot man walked by. Another woman and I exchanged a look and commented on how tall he was. This somehow segued into a conversation in which she revealed that she is a middle school teacher who has students who tower over her. We went on to talk about how quickly kids seem to be developing and how much older they look than they really are. Although she was much younger than I – probably about 30 – she still felt that teenagers look much older now than they did when she was a teenager. I’m 46 and I’m here to tell you that one glance back into my high school yearbook confirms that we were all a bunch of pipsqueaks with big hair and too much makeup. Our prom dresses were taffeta and covered everything on our bodies, including our legs. And it’s a good thing, because we really didn’t have any legs to speak of.
Flash forward to today. Ninth grade boys with full beards. Middle school girls with curvy bodies and no need for training bras. Oo-la-la prom dresses with cut outs that strategically reveal, well, almost everything.
The fact is that designers wouldn’t make these dresses if girls didn’t have the bodies to pull it off. No doubt about it, teen bodies have changed. After reading Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and every article I can get my hands on that deals with chemicals and modifications in our food, I’m pretty convinced we are seeing the results of genetically modified foods combined with a culture of fast food and ridiculously large portions. It only makes sense that if you add hormones to a cow’s diet then drink the milk the cow has produced, those hormones will pass right into your diet and voila! breasts at age 10. *Note: Sparks Notes version of scientific evidence.
Go back and look at your yearbook, then take a look at the teenagers around you. It’s cray-cray, as they would say.