I’ve been thinking about milestones, those life events that we all experience as we enter (and live through) adulthood. In the movie “ Is God there?” This Is Me, Margaret
, Kelly Fremont Craig’s recent adaptation of Judy Bloom’s classic Bildungsroman, 11 year-old Margaret (Abby) Ryder Fortson is desperate to hit a milestone: her period. “If I didn’t get it before, I’d die 14!” she cries to her mother (an iridescent Rachel McAdams). “Honey, you’ll get it when you deserve it,” she replied. This is indeed valuable wisdom, but it’s hard to take when you feel like your peers are leaving you behind. I know because, like Margaret, I’m a late bloomer.
Margaret lives in the American suburb of 2000 and I am an adult in 2000 The British countryside, despite the time and place being different, there are many familiar places in her experience. Like Margaret, I tried on pads before I actually needed them, and like Margaret, I convinced my mom to buy me a bra before it was absolutely necessary, and went on to try different ones like her The look fills it with rolled up socks. I still remember vividly the “I must, I must, I must have boobs!” exercises I practiced with my friends—if ever there was one, it was a playground classic.
Of course, it doesn’t work. In 14, I’m still “flat” and Margaret is pronounced by her blond frenemy Nancy (I have a blond frenemy too) and I still don’t menstruation. I remember being at a friend’s house when it arrived: she was in a lower grade than me at school, and asked me how I told my mom when this happened to me. I had to explain that not yet; she was surprised (though not unkindly) and I was mortified. It’s one thing to be the last girl to “come on” (as we call it) in my year, but what about being surpassed by the next year’s girl? humiliation.
It wasn’t until I 14 that I lost my virginity, something I used to be very uncomfortable with. Today, I see the whole concept of “virginity” as a destructive social construct that has no biological basis and falsely favors one sex over the other. At the time, though, I was really obsessed with it: I used to honestly think it might never happen, and I was a freak no one would want. That’s why I can so deeply understand Margaret’s dejected and desperate prayer, “Let me grow and get my period, let me be regular and normal like everyone else, please, please, please Already.” 200020002000