To be a woman is to be in constant mourning. Letting go of your childhood, relationships you’ve outgrown, and dreams that have taken new shape can be exhausting, even amidst all the magic of divine femininity.

Within that, letting go of our prepubescent bodies to embrace our “grown woman bodies” can be a complex transition as well. Referring to the shift in how our bodies express weight within our 20s and 30s, TikTok has come alive with women sharing sentiments of what it’s been like to step into their grown woman bodies. 

In the era of BBL and ozempic, our own self-perception can become distorted, and how willingly we embrace our new curves can vary, from acceptance and celebration to insecurity and body dysmorphia. Here’s a guide to what exactly is happening and how you can best navigate it. 

What is Second Puberty?

While the puberty we commonly know of happens between ages 8 and 14, developing you from kid into adult, your body continues to change after the fact. Known as “second puberty,” from your 20s into your 30s your body undergoes a series of shifts hormonally, which in turn impact the way that you look. Your estrogen and progesterone are spiking as you move through peak fertility, and by your mid-30s, your testosterone levels begin to decrease.

Here are the major ways in which these changes can manifest throughout your 20s into your 30s:

  • Your bones get stronger, then slowly weaken in your mid to late 30s
  • Your weight begins to fluctuate
  • Your period begins to regulate
  • Your libido increases 
  • Your menstrual cramps intensify
  • Your nipples and vulva may change in appearance

And most significantly, you might get a little curvier. Regardless of whether or not you’re maintaining the diet and exercise you always have, most women begin to carry weight in places they never did previously. This includes an increase in fat distribution in your hips, thighs and bust, due to metabolic and hormonal changes.

How To Embrace Your Grown Woman Body

For many of us, filling out our clothes is a welcomed change, and rightfully so! Historical works of art depicted Goddesses with full tummies and thick thighs as the epitome of regal beauty, and many cultures continue to uphold this rhetoric. However, in American media, skinny, unachievable, Eurocentric body standards are put on a pedestal, which can make it different for many to accept their new curves. If you find yourself in the latter group, here are some tips to help you navigate the changes:

Clean up your feed: If you’re following influencers on Instagram as “motivation” or “fitness goals” but they’re really just making you feel bad about the body that you’re in, it’s time to clean up your socials and make sure you’re only consuming media that uplifts your sense of self.

Stay active: Moving your body and exercising regularly in a way that’s fun and engaging will help you feel connected to your body while slowing down bone and muscle loss. A routine that involves both cardio and strength training, alongside yoga and hot girl walks, can be the secret to feeling good and empowered.

Eat well:  Making sure to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein essential is for healthy aging. But beyond that, make sure you’re meeting your caloric needs, not skipping any meals, and satisfying cravings for treats without depriving yourself of your humanity.

Get rid of old clothes: Keeping those pair of jeans you wore in freshman year of high school for “when you can fit them again” is psychological warfare. Do yourself the favor of donating whichever clothes don’t fit comfortably anymore and replace them with clothes that feel good, fit well and make you feel beautiful.

Manage stress: Stress can spike your cortisol in a very disregulating way for the body. Make sure to manage stress by integrating mindfulness practices into your routine, getting adequate sleep every night and spending time in nature.

Talk to friends: As women, being alive in modern-day society means you’re undergoing some sort of internal battle when it comes to body image. Talk to your friends about what you’re really thinking and feeling instead of hiding behind Instagram filters— you may find more overlap than you’d ever suspect.

And remember: taking care of yourself doesn’t equate to losing weight. These tips are crafted to support your body in being its healthiest: spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Overexercising and upkeeping a demeaning internal dialogue is all the more damaging, and what our body looks like when it’s at its healthiest should be determined ultimately by genetics— not social media.

Give Your Body Grace

Let this be as emotional of an experience as it needs to be. To embrace your grown woman body is to mourn your adolescence, and that’s an understandably difficult process. In that same vein, embracing your grown woman body means embracing your grown womanhood. Making big girl money, traveling to new places, evolving in your sense of fashion, establishing boundaries unapologetically, experiencing deeper love and exploring new depths of your interests can catalyze a full-on renaissance.

And beyond that, your body has held you through every heartbreak and romance, every failure and new venture, every version of yourself you’ve survived life with. Your vessel is a temple that deserves offerings of laughter, rich oils, soft bed sheets, late-night desserts, and most of all, unconditional love— stretch marks and all.