It occurred to me recently that one of our problems is that we are reaching puberty too young.
If you google for “age of menarche” three things are clear.
- Girls are having their first periods younger
- If you compare now with the 1970s or the 1950s, it isn’t actually that much younger, just a matter of months or so (13.2 years to 12.5)
- Accurate figures for the first half of the 20thC and for times before then are even harder to find, though what information there is suggests the difference might be 18 months or a couple of years
It is interesting to think that the average age of menarche in the 19th century may have been almost 15 (in Norway it was over 16). These days it is just over 12.
You see, I find myself wondering to what extent a later menarche gave young women a valuable extra two or three years’ growing up before the hormonal storm of puberty; to what extent it gave their personalities and intellects a chance to mature and settle down. I find myself wondering if one reason why today’s generation of drunken ladetts and attention-seekers, the generation in their 20s and early 30s, can seem so immature and childish is that the emotional roller-coaster of puberty just happened too young. Did they lose out on the chance to get some joined-up-thinking in before the hormones hit?
It’s annoying that the figures are so hard to find. There’s an article from an Australian newspaper which says:
“The age of menarche, a girl’s first period, has dropped dramatically over the past century, from about 14 or 15 in 1900 to about 11 or 12 now”
This seems to be useful data to base my theory on, but the article doesn’t reference its sources. However Google Answers provides similar data from other parts of the world with some sources referenced, so maybe the data is good enough for the blogosphere.
It’s no more than a theory, that one reason we have so many childish, selfish, insecure and vain little drama queens these days is that good nutrition (and hormones in the chicken, maybe) robbed them of the chance to grow up.