By Tara Cousineau, Ph.D
Okay, so there’s a lot of attention given to teen girls and body image, but what about guys? It’s not like guys don’t worry about how they look or how to fit in. And while girls pretty much get through the bulk of puberty by age 14, a boy’s physical maturation can stretch out for a along time, even into the late teens and early 20s.
Yes, you guys can feel a bit awkward in your bodies, too, even if you would never tweet about it. But let’s be real, it doesn’t take much to walk into a store like Abercrombie or Guess to make a guy feel, well, self-conscious. Pictures of six-pack abs and sculpted pecks can prompt a guy to wonder where he fits in the cultural definition of the sexiest man alive or the latest superhero.
These are common feelings most teenage guys have, so don’t feel bad if you’re self-conscious or unsure about your growing body. To help you out, I’ve put together some answers for FAQ’s that a lot of guys have.
Q: It’s so weird, all of a sudden I’m much taller than my friends. How come?
A: Some boys have a speedy growth spurt, growing 4 or more inches in a year, while other boys worry about whether they will ever grow taller. Growth spurts happen at different times for different kids. How tall you are depends mostly on how tall your family members are. Growth spurts can be quick or they can be gradual, and boys can get taller up until age 19.
Q: When am I going to get muscles?
A: Just like some boys want to be taller, some boys want to have more muscles. Bigger muscles are the last things to develop during all the puberty changes. When your muscles develop is usually related to when other male family members went through puberty. Your body shape also depends on the type of body you inherit. If your family is on the slim side, chances are you will be, too. If they are on the heftier side, then you may be, as well.
Keep in mind that it can take up to 3 to 4 years for puberty to finish. During that time boys get a lot taller and can gain up to 45-50 pounds. That may seem like a huge amount, but it’s really not if you compare a 10-11 year old to an 18 or 19 year old.
A: You’ll catch up. Voice changes usually start around 14 or 15 and this indicates that you are in the middle of puberty. The voice box (larynx) in your throat enlarges and your voice deepens. Sometimes “cracking” occurs, but this is normal and it settles down after a few months. An Adam’s apple “bump” on your throat may begin to show, too.
Q: How come some guys start to shave while other guys don’t have a speck of hair?
A: Facial hair usually starts to grow between ages 12 and 17. There can be a big difference from one boy to the next. Usually, a mustache grows first, then a beard, and then sideburns. Relax, this is normal and you will follow your own individual pattern. During puberty, pubic hair and underarm hair also begin to grow in. For some teenage boys, hair may also appear on other parts of the body, like the chest and back.
Q: How come my face is getting these zits?
A: During puberty, the hormones in the body start to produce more sweat; and the skin and hair become oilier. This can cause some kids to develop pimples (also called acne) that appear on the face, chest or back. Not every teen gets these, but most do at some point during puberty. You don’t need expensive products to prevent zits. Using a cleanser, such as soap, on your face daily is a simple way to deal with zits. But don’t overdo the face washing as this can irritate the skin.
Q: Are protein shakes good for building muscles?
A: Protein shakes are just like any milk drink, containing milk, sugar, eggs, vitamins, and minerals. Did you know that by having a breakfast of eggs, orange juice, and toast you get the same amount of protein as if you were to drink a protein shake? And, by eating the healthy breakfast you’re giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs in a way that is better for it. There are lots of advertisements out there that tell you that protein shakes are the way to go, but that’s just not true. If you eat balanced and healthful meals you get all the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need to grow up strong and healthy and you avoid spending your money on gimmicks.
Last reviewed Nov 3, 2014