Archive for January 2010

The Body Scoop for Girls & Book Giveaway

The Body Scoop for Girls

Do you have questions about your body that you’re too uncomfortable to talk to your friends or parents about? Have you ever wondered at what age you should go see a gynecologist and what exactly would happen during your visit? Are you aware of the various sexually transmitted diseases out there and understand how to best protect yourself from contracting one?

If so, your search for answers is over. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has just written , and inside you’ll find information on everything from breast development and periods to birth control and personal hygiene.

“I found that teens and tweens just didn’t have a clue about their bodies, and no one (parents, teachers, friends) was giving them the right information. I wanted to give them the inside scoop on their bodies so that they would be empowered!” says Dr. Ashton.

I’m all for that. Especially when I think about all the questions I had as a teen (and continued to have until not so long ago) that went unanswered, mostly because of my own embarassment or insecurity with my own body.

What I especially like about this book is that the info is presented in a super accessible way – as you read the book it really feels as if you’re sitting down in a comfy couch in the office of a seriously cool doctor, and she’s there just to make you realize that every concern, fear, or embarrassment you harbor about your nether regions is totally normal and okay.

To enter the book giveaway contest for a chance to win The Body Scoop for Girls, leave a comment below about whether or not you’ve ever had “the talk” with your mom or dad, why or why not, and if so, how it went. One winner will be chosen next Wednesday, February 3rd, and be notified by email.

* UPDATE* My friends over at Scarleteen, the awesome sex ed website for teens, pointed out to me that there is some info in The Body Scoop for Girls that doesn’t necessarily jive with many sex educators working with teens. Perhaps most controversial is Dr. Ashton’s suggestion that sexually active teen girls shouldn’t tell their partners they are on the pill, her reasoning being that if guys know a girl is on the pill, they will be less likely to use a condom. And since condoms are the only thing that protect someone from an STD, she feels this “white lie” is worth it. I can see her point, but I agree that advocating dishonesty in a relationship doesn’t feel right. I appreciated the perspective Dr. Karen Rayne shared on her blog:

Dr. Ashton is saying it’s okay (1) for girls to lie to their sex partners about their sexual and reproductive health, (2) that it’s okay for girls to have sex with someone that they don’t trust with their sexual and reproductive health, and (3) that the decision about whether to use a condom or not is the boy’s decision, not the girl’s.  I deeply reject all three of these points and am rather affronted that anyone would agree with her initial statement.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, too!

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Contest for Budding Girl Entrepreneurs

If you have an interest in entrepreneurship, you may want to throw your hat in the ring to be considered for a Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Award. Sponsored by the Guardian Life Insurance Company, the award program is designed to reward enterprising and community-minded girls ages 12 to 18.

To apply, you’ll have to fill out a form, submit a 250-word essay, and have an adult write a recommendation endorsing you as a young entrepreneur. Winners will have demonstrated entrepreneurship, taking the first steps towards financial freedom, and making a difference in their schools and communities.

What’s in it for you? The prizes are no small thing: the Guardian is offering a $10,000 reward for first place, $5,000 for second, $3,000 for third, and $1,000 for twelve finalists. Deadline for submissions is February 26, 2010.

For more info, complete contest rules, and profiles of previous winners, visit the Girls Going Places website. Good luck!

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Learn about Science Careers on GirlTalk Radio

GirlTalk RadioI just stumbled upon a great website called GirlTalk Radio, a mentoring initiative that encourage girls to explore science, math, engineering and technology in their own words.

On GirlTalk Radio, girls ages 11-16 interview successful women working in science, engineering and technology for the locally broadcast radio program. I love this idea, not just because I’m a big fan of giving girls real, honest info on career possibilities, but because the girls themselves are driving the whole program.

In these candid, interesting interviews, the girls dig deep to find out what these career women actually do. In the first two season, GirlTalk teen hosts have interviewed many cool women, including:

  • Nina Kang, Google Maps software engineer
  • Tanya Martinez, renewable energy entrepreneur
  • Vera Donnenberg, UPMC stem cell researcher
  • Tonya Groover, founder, Technology Leadership Institute
  • Dr. Bernadine Dias, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Erin Copeland, a restoration ecologist with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Though GirlTalk is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you can listen to all the interviews on the GirlTalk website.

And if you want to find out more about math, science, and technology careers, check out my book , in which I interview a marine biologist, software engineer, urban planner, accountant, and forensic scientist.

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Heidi Montag’s New Look

Heidi MontagIf you’re a fan of The Hills (and yes, even this smart girl admits to indulging in her fair share of MTV-sponsored reality television), then no doubt you’ve heard about Heidi Montag’s unveiling of her “new look,” the result of ten different plastic surgery procedures she had in one day last fall.

From enhancing her breasts to a double D and having a chin reduction, to getting fat injected into her cheeks and lips while having it sucked out of her neck, waist, hips and thighs, Heidi admits to being obsessed with plastic surgery while denying she is addicted to it.

Now, I’ve never once thought of Heidi as some kind of role model for girls, but I can’t help but cringe at the message this 23-year-old is making with her very public transformation. Especially when she says things like:

My main message is that beauty is really within. I have to do things that are going to make me happy at the end of the day, and I’m living in my skin and I look in the mirror and it’s my career, and my life, and I want to take advantage of everything and be the best me in and out in every way. (from her interview on Good Morning America)

I’ll be honest…I’m not a fan of plastic surgery…at all. Why? Because as more and more people undergo the knife in an effort to manufacture a more “beautiful” them, it reinforces this idea that “pretty is better” – that bigger breasts make everything better, fuller lips will make one more kissable, and a perfect nose, chin, and eyebrows are the key to true happiness. And since something like .0001% of the population is actually born with these “desirable” features, something appears to be very wrong with this equation.

I did a little research about teens and plastic surgery and found that, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the number of procedures performed on kids aged 13 to 19 nearly doubled to 244,124 (including about 47,000 nose jobs and 9,000 breast augmentations) from 2002 to 2006. That’s a quarter of a million teens (and realistically, many, many more by now) who felt so bad about themselves because of the way they looked that they were willing to risk their lives to make surgical “improvements.”

What are your thoughts about Heidi’s “main message?” What do you think the effects could be on teens as plastic surgery patients get younger and younger and these procedures become more and more common?

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Are Parents Clueless About Their Teens’ Stress?

The fact that today’s teens are stressed out shouldn’t be news to anyone, but according to a new study by the American Psychological Association (APA), many parents don’t realize the severity of the affects of stress on their kids.

Says the APA, “Parents’ responses about sources of stress for their children were out of sync with what children reported as sources of worry. In general, children also were more likely to report having experienced physical symptoms often associated with stress than parents were to say their children experienced these symptoms.”

For example:

  • 42% of teens say they get stress-related headaches, while only 13% of parents say their teens get them
  • 49% of teens say they have trouble sleeping due to stress, while only 13% of parents say this is the case
  • 39% of teens say they eat too much or too little as result of stress, while only 8% of parents see this as a problem for their teens

So why are so many parents so out of the loop? An article in Psychology Today suggests that parents themselves are more stressed, and are therefore less able to see the stress in the people around them, including their own children.

In my book Chill, I talk about the importance of building a personal support system made up of people you know you can turn to when life gets particularly stressful. Ideally, parents would be a part of this system for any teen, but they first need to understand what’s really going on in their teen’s life.

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Chat with Me Tomorrow!

inkpop logoWant to talk? I’m going to be live on inkpop tomorrow to chat and answer questions as part of the site’s “Author Is In” series. If you have questions about the writer’s life, how to break into publishing, the Louder Than Words memoirs series, any of my books, or pretty much anything else, I’d love to see you there!

Here are the deets:

WHEN: Saturday, January 9, from 4-5 p.m. EST

WHERE: inkpop Forums

WHO: You and me

HOW: If you’re not already an inkpop member, you’ll have to log on and create a profile on You must have an inkpop profile in order to post questions and comments on Forums. is an online community that connects rising stars in teen lit with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals.

And while you’re there, check out my tips for avoiding the 5 most common writing mistakes teen make on the inkpop blog!

I hope to see you tomorrow!

XOXO Debbie

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