The Girl Guide: 50 Ways to Learn to Love Your Changing Body

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Girl Guide: 50 Ways to Learn to Love Your Changing Body Book Poster Image
Wonderfully candid, body-positive tips to inspire girls.

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Kids say

age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

In-depth information on periods including how to use pads, tampons, and cups, handling physical discomfort without pain medication, and noticing less tangible changes like sadness or bursts of creativity. Wide-ranging advice on physical and emotional well-being including tips for healthy eating and sleep habits, choosing a bra, coping with chafing, treating acne, and dealing with yeast infections, UTIs, and vaginal discharge. Includes simple stretches to ease minor aches. Illustrations depict vaginas, sanitary supplies, types of bras, and more.

Positive Messages

Promotes positive body image with firm assurance that changes during puberty that may seem weird or uncomfortable are normal, and that girls eventually will feel at home in their adult bodies. Assures girls they can be perfectly healthy with some "wobble and jelly." Cautions against tools and techniques intended to improve appearance that can harm mental and physical health, including skin bleaching, tanning, wearing high heels, and being too focused on media representations of beauty and trendy fashion. Advises girls to appreciate and take ownership of their maturing bodies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ibrahim freely shares her personal experiences with everything from acne to accidentally wetting herself. She's empathetic and supportive, offering her experience to help reassure and guide younger girls. She's very body-positive, encouraging readers to appreciate their bodies, no matter their shape and size, and to take good care of them. Her love for athletic performance is inspiring.


Refers to the clitoris as "your personal pleasure button" and "your virginity -- like your body -- is YOURS and only YOU get to decide what you do with it," but otherwise doesn't discuss sexual activity or intercourse.


Uses correct anatomical terms along with casual terms for body parts and biological functions such "boobs," "poop," "pee," "butts," and "foo-foo" for vagina.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Advises staying in control of your body by resisting pressure to use alcohol or drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Girl Guide is a fun, helpful read about how girls may feel during puberty, but it doesn't aim to be a comprehensive guide to sexual development. It reads like a chatty conversation with your big sister. Author Marawa Ibrahim -- a circus arts performer and hula hoop record-holder -- mines her own experience to help readers embrace puberty with curiosity, confidence, and humor. She helps demystify menstruation, choosing a bra, and increased body hair, shares techniques for soothing physical aches and emotional upset, and coaches on being kind to yourself. The book doesn't explain sexual intercourse, pregnancy, contraception, or STDs. But it does describe the clitoris as "your personal pleasure button" and advises girls to wait until they're older to have sex.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byjamers333 March 28, 2019


i think it is good, but it says a lot of things that i think shoildnt be needed to be said

What's the story?

Reading THE GIRL GUIDE is like hanging out in your fabulous big sister's bedroom for a candid "ask me anything" session: It's packed with answers to questions girls may not even think to ask about the ups and downs of growing older. Fifty short chapters take on acne, periods, big butts, hair growth -- and hair removal, crushes, staying fit, bras, eating disorders, and more. 

Is it any good?

Performer Marawa Ibrahim offers a friendly helping hand to tween girls entering the intimidating, exciting, and awkward years of puberty, empowering them by sharing insider tips and hard-won wisdom. The Girl Guide dives into some topics in-depth, like the section on menstruation. But most of the time Ibrahim hopscotches all over, bouncing from how to handle inappropriate attention to embarrassing poops, gender identity, fashion, yeast infections, UTIs, and drugs and smoking.

Ibrahim is fiercely feminist and body-positive: "Say it loud and say it proud: Vagina, vagina, vagina" prefaces a two-page illustration of vaginas fashioned out of cut paper. The colorful, creative photography and artwork by Sinem Erkas add delightful (and sometimes funny) touches, like using oranges and balloons to demonstrate breast size and sanitary pads for clouds and surfboards. The result of this collaboration is frank, funny, and sparkling with girl power.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Girl Guide promotes positive body image. Do you feel pressure to look a certain way? Does this book help?

  • How do you feel about the candid tone of this book? How does it compare with more straightforward books on puberty?

  • Do you have questions about your body or your emotional health that this book didn't help you with? If so, ask a trusted adult for information or advice.

Book details

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