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5 Gentle Affirmations for Anyone Whose Body Is Changing Due to 'Second Puberty'

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

If you’re in your mid-20s, you may never want to think about the awkwardness of your “puberty” years ever again. But did you know that many adults experience a “second puberty” in their mid-20s? As you reach the middle of your 20s, your metabolism may slow down, which can lead to changes in your body shape and size that will ultimately usher you into your “adult” body. These changes can feel difficult and unexpected, especially if you live with an eating disorder or battle body dysmorphia.

If you’re struggling with not having the same body size that you had at age 16 — or even at age 21 — here are some affirmations to help you through your “second puberty.”

1. These “second puberty” changes are normal — even if you worry they aren’t.

You may feel like you’re the only one in the world whose body is changing at this stage of life, especially if you’re in eating disorder treatment or recovery and your friends aren’t. These physical changes happen to people with nearly every type of body, but they may feel far more intense if you’re actively refeeding in your mid-20s and your body seems to be changing before your eyes. While it’s true that your body can seem to change rapidly in recovery, remember that many of your friends in the same life stage are likely encountering many of the same changes that you are. Experiencing “second puberty” is a completely natural process, and it needs to be far more normalized.

2. It’s OK to feel frustrated with your body during “second puberty.”

As your body changes, you may feel like you can’t keep up. You might feel like you can no longer find clothes that fit you well or feel unsettled if you have to choose larger sizes. You may even blame your body for the way it now processes food. With diet culture so ingrained in our society and the pressure to conform to societal beauty standards running rampant, all of your frustrations are valid. Change can be jarring, especially when society claims that the changes you experience may not be “flattering.” Know that as time passes, your frustration will likely pass as well, but right now, you may want to sit with and process that frustration, and that’s completely OK. Do whatever you need to right now in order to heal.

3. You don’t have to feel confident in your body right as it starts to change in “second puberty.”

Body positivity is everywhere now, and people of all genders and from all walks of life are often constantly encouraged to remain confident and comfortable in their bodies. What this narrative sometimes glosses over, though, is that feeling confident enough to buy clothes in any style or to publicly love your body takes time, especially because bodies change. You can still strive towards body acceptance or body positivity when you don’t feel confident in your body. When your body goes through changes in its shape or size, it may take time for you to embrace the way your body looks and re-develop the confidence you may strive to regain. That’s perfectly fine — change can take time to accept, and your struggle to come to terms with the changes in your body doesn’t mean you aren’t “with the movement” as a whole.

4. You still deserve all of your favorite foods during “second puberty.”

As your body shape shifts during “second puberty,” you may find yourself tempted to engage in disordered eating behaviors, especially if you’re currently in recovery from an eating disorder or have a past history of eating disorders. Regardless of how your body looks right now, though, you still need to nourish it — and you don’t deserve any of your favorite foods any less than you did before. Although you may battle thoughts of restriction or feel the need to use food as punishment to “retaliate” against your changing body, your body shape or size doesn’t determine your worthiness of receiving adequate nutrition. Whether you crave a sweet, juicy piece of fruit, a mouth-watering burger, or a savory bag of chips, you deserve to satisfy any recovery-oriented food cravings you have. Your body still needs and deserves sustenance, so why not fuel it with food you genuinely love?

5. This “second puberty” stage will not last forever.

If you start to notice changes to your body in your mid-20s, you may worry that they’ll never stop, and you’ll end up with a body you no longer recognize. This feeling is natural for any change that doesn’t have a definite endpoint, but at the same time, your “second puberty” — and all of the discomfort it may bring you — will eventually end. There may be parts of your body you feel look “too different” now, but your body will always be yours, and it will also likely know when to stop “second puberty.” Trusting that your body knows exactly what you need can be difficult and scary, but you will get through this potentially challenging time, and your body will continue to do exactly what it does best — try to help you thrive in every stage of your life.

Getty image by FG Trade.

Originally published: February 21, 2022
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