The following is an abridged version of: Now That You Are Almost a Woman: A guide to the magicical yet terrifying time in your life when odd and strange things are reshaping you, your body and your thoughts by Ann Landers, published in 1955 by the Double-Hill McCraw Simon and Schister Company, White Plains, New Jersey.
Introduction, by Ann Landers
If you are reading this, then I’ll bet that someone who loves you has given this book to you at this important time in your life.
It is important because you are a young lady who is on the verge of something very exciting. A time in your life that is very exciting, yet terrifying. Something so complex that you just know for sure that you are the only girl on earth with these feelings. And yet, you are not that unique, nor are you as special as you think you are. In fact you’re just like every other blooby unformed girl. There now, doesn’t that take a load of pressure off your shoulders?
You may also be asking “What is happening to my body?”
Well the simple truth is that you are undergoing a special metamorphosis, like one of those really ugly caterpillars that will one day turn into a beautiful butterfly. But instead of turning into a butterfly, you are on the verge of becoming – dare I say it? Ok, I will:
To help you understand what is going on inside of you physically, emotionally and cognitively let me, Ann Landers, help guide you through this time in your life.
You might be asking yourself "who is Ann Landers" and "what does she know?" Well, just like you, I was a child once, but now I'm an internationally known authority on matters big and small, just like this one. Your mother reads my daily column and I advise millions of people who come to me and ask important questions, like "Why doesn't he call me," and "Funny, my husband never asks for a second cup of coffee at our house - what ever could be wrong?"
Even though I am older than you, I would like to think that you could trust me with your questions. I know, let's become friends, shall we?
And because we’re friends we can tell each other anything; but because I’m a book, I’ll be doing all of the talking, and you'll be doing all of the work by reading. Alright?
Lets get started!
Chapter 1: The girl you are leaving behind
Like most girls, I’m sure that you are reading this book in the comfort of your own frilly pink bedroom. Look around you. Well, do it!
Your dolls and toys and stuffed animals are among your most prized possessions, aren’t they? They are so because your see them through your childish eyes. In the coming days, weeks and years, these reminders of your innocence and childlike world will become less and less important. In fact you'll be grateful when your mother misplaces them on the day of the yard sale, or you find that it's OK to burn your Teddy Bear. You can look forward to new friends like Valium, Tupperware and Midol - big girl stuff. Neat, huh?
Because you are becoming a woman, and women in this time of atomic dreams don’t need fantasies to find fulfillment. Fulfillment isn’t being on the honor roll, or about going to college or even things like understanding math. Being a woman means being prepared to help your man succeed in life is what fulfillment is all about for every normal woman.
Chapter 2: What every normal woman wants
Like the swallows to Capistrano, beginning the process of becoming a woman is something innate – something that we know is happening inside of us long before the outwardlyly noticable signs are evident. Yes, the process hurts – its God’s way of reminding us that we are damned in life. Take joy in this; we can do the things that no man can, like peeing sitting down. (Well a man could do this, but would he really be a man? Or would he be just a little bit funny. You know, Light in Loafers, a turd burglar, an Up the Poop Piper.)
We can have babies, and our bodies are made for that purpose. And who needs anything more than being a Mommy! Careers are for women who are barren - women whose abnormally dry vaginas make sex with a man painful. I say YUCK to that! Being a mother is something that you'll be known for all over the world.
But as you go through school you may find that certain girlfriends of yours may begin to drift from the course of real womanhood. These poor lost souls will excel at academics, or worse yet, will never out grow their tomboy years. To be a normal woman means having normal interests, like shopping for angora sweaters, or enjoying that perfect moment when “he” asks you out for a soda. Good times.
But women who mature too fast and far in the intellectual sense, are a danger for themselves and dangerous for your reputation as well. They may have been your friends, but once they cross the line into physics, or wearing men’s clothing, they can ruin everything that your mother has worked for during her life. Is that a cross that you are willing to bear for the rest of your days on earth?
Chapter 3: Your body
As you progress through this time in your life, you will experience a monthly shame that you must bear with grace and gratitude. Menstruation is a physical clock that tells you when you are fertile, and a reminder that you are wasting valuable eggs that could be children that you could be raising.
Adult women refer to Menstruation as Menses, or “a visit from a friend” or even “I can’t go swimming” when they are among their closest girl friends. Never call it a period! A period is a piece of punctuation at the end of a sentence, like this. See it? It was right there at the end of that sentence. And that one too! If you call your “stain of womanhood” a "period", every time you read a sentence you’ll be reminded of God’s punishment for Eve’s betrayal in the Garden of Eden.
Do you want that betrayal all over your homework? I thought you wouldn’t.
Breasts are something that give pleasure to your husband and your suckling babes. Right now I am willing to bet that they are budding on your body, and will develop into pert and supple breasts - the type with tender, puffy pink nipples on the ends. But as they grow and mature, you must not touch them. Never - except to wash them.
Because your body is merely the vehicle by which your breasts move from place to place. They are not for your benefit: they exist to give your children sustenance and to give your husband something to hold onto when he needs something to hold onto.
Chapter 4: The Birds and the Bees
There is nothing shameful about sex, and yet why do we not discuss it? Because a young lady knows that other polite people don’t want to discuss sex. They don’t find it civilized to air their laundry in public.
You may from time to time have urges, too. A tingling, or an indescribable desire to touch yourself in a way that would make Jesus weep. Don’t do it. A woman never, ever, does anything that would upset her mother. Are you prepared to go to your mother and ask if she explores her Delta of Venus? Can you close your eyes and imagine your mother doing what you are thinking of? Of course not: that would be sick! Sick, SICK, SICK!
Sex between a man and woman is the natural and beautiful way for the two of you to express your love after you have been married. Your job is to lie there like a lady. Your husband's job is to plant a baby in your special place. Do not do or say anything that could wound your husband’s image of himself - his efforts must be focused on feeling good about the work that he is doing for your benefit. If you must think of anything, think about the British Empire.
If you are good, your reward for a job well done will be sleeping on the wet spot.
Chapter 5: In the end…
You have so much to look forward to! Becoming a woman is your future. You can make the transition easier by remembering that the balance of the world rests in your ability not to cause too many problems for others, and to remain calm at all times.
I’m so glad that we became friends. It was fun – wasn’t it? And keep this booklet – one day you’ll be the mommy and pass this onto your daughter and in doing so will help her become a productive member of the place that we call life.
Back jacket reviews
“Thank God Ann Landers had the balls to take this on!”
“Ann Landers brings honesty to table in talking about "Not Being Able to Go Swimming" and other important topics”
“Thanks to Ann Landers, I have found my inner woman”
“Landers, once again, sends a message that I can't seem to grasp”