Growth Hurts

the gawky stageQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Heeeeelp! I’m less than five feet tall and I’m already fourteen. How can I get taller without subscribing to these Internet programs. The prices are high and I don’t think I can afford it. My younger brother is taller than I am and I’m ashamed because I’m sooooo small. Please help.


A Dear Tiny:

I must admit I’m not familar with those Internet subscription growth programs. It all sounds a bit suspicious to me. Not to mention the fact that you appear perfectly normal, according to Lester Beck’s Human Growth: The Story of How Life Begins and Goes On, which was written in 1949. Dr. Beck was the “guiding spirit” behind the 1950s sex-ed film titled “Human Beginnings,” so he seems pretty trustworthy.

1949: Growing…Growing…Grown!

When they are ten or eleven years old, girls start growing more rapidly, passing boys in both height and weight. This ‘growth spurt’ lasts until they reach thirteen or fourteen. Thus girls become physically mature about two years sooner than boys. This means that most girls of twelve and thirteen are bigger than most boys of the same age. Then it is the boys’ turn. At twelve to thirteen, they start outgrowing their clothes at a surprising speed. By fifteen, they are equal to girls in size.

This is the period known as adolescence. In girls adolescence usually begins at the age of about twelve to thirteen, in boys at about fourteen to fifteen, and continues until they have reached maturity. Though the growth rate now slows down for girls, boys keep growing rapidly for another year or two. The time just described is the second period of rapid growth which occurs in all people. The first period, remember, came immediately after birth.

No two children, however, grow at precisely the same speed. Just as all human beings differ in appearance and behavior, so they differ in the way they grow. Take three fifteen-year-old boys, for example. One may still look like a child, with his straight slim build and small-boy features. Another may be in the gawky stage. Yet another may look like a grown man, even though he is just starting high school.

Growth also produces great differences in build. While one young girl is short and slender, another may be short and plump. Again, some boys and girls are tall and slender, others tall and heavy. Similar differences in shape and size can be seen in any group of adults.

At about twenty years of age, the average boy is five inches taller and fifteen pounds heavier than the average girl. By this time ~ the late teens or early twenties ~ physical maturity has been reached. At eighteen, girls are fully grown, while boys continue growing a little taller up to the age of twenty or so.

Source: Beck, Lester F. Human Growth. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949.
~ pp. 25-28 ~