No doubt about it, puberty depressed the hell out of me. I think the depression lasted longer than the puberty. It sure felt that way. Sometimes, it still feels that way. For me, and I'm sure for other women too, the reason was that puberty completely changed my relationship with the world. It launched me, against my will, from by-stander to target.

When I was a girl, I took particular delight in my ability to silently slip into a room unseen, to fly below the radar, as it were. My mom used to say I could sneak up on a cat. Kids can have that privilege, of being background. They are assumed to pose no threat and thus usually are left to play, to be kids. If I didn't want to be somewhere, I just slipped away.

Puberty changed all of that. The reason it sent my body and I to war was because it brought unwanted attention. I felt the same, but everywhere I went, men acted differently. I could no longer slip in and out. I had to be wary, or risk being caught. It is surprising (I hope) to anyone who didn't have to go through this how many men there are out there who would sexually assault a young, adolescent female without a second thought. I cannot tell you how many times I wove, ducked, and darted to avoid hands. I would not wish you to have been in my place the times men's crotches were deliberately thrust towards my face while I sat on the bus - let alone the time one guy's zipper was undone. All of the sudden, guys started claiming I owed them things, due to some effect I had on them without intention or desire on my part. I remember one night when I was 13, out with my sister and some older friends of hers, being told in no uncertain terms what kind of a girl I was if I tried to escape that responsibility. Over and over, the message was, your body isn't yours anymore.

It has taken me roughly till now, my mid-twenties, to make peace with my body and stop hating it for increasing my vulnerability. I'm a very careful dresser now, always editing the messages I could be sending out. I still struggle with sexual objectification some days, even days when I wear a suit. It all depends who I encounter over the course of a given day. My body and I are reconciling some 13 years of acrimony, all because it went round without ever asking how I felt.