I was a seventh-grade teacher while I was living in New York City, and many of my students were attractive young women who looked a lot more like college students than middle-school kids. Were they getting called out and leered at too? Lara was in eighth grade. She was very tall and thin, and looked like a supermodel. She knew it, and liked to dress a little too skimpily for my taste. But I love her anyway. We were very close, and I knew if I asked her a question, she’d answer me honestly. “Lara, can I ask you something?” “Sure, Katzie, what’s up?” “When you’re walking around on the street, do random guys call you out and tell you things they want to do to you?” “OH MY GOD!!! All the time!” I heard a real sense of relief in her voice. “How does it make you feel?” “Horrible. Like a piece of meat.” We talked about the problem for a long time. At the end of the conversation I had really mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt better that I was not the only person who suffered this kind of treatment. On the other hand, I felt a lot worse, because not only did I have to deal with this, but now I realized that my students—middle-school girls—were being catcalled on the street by men who were probably at least twice their age. This, I decided, was NOT COOL. I had to do something about it. Positive Thinking First of all, you should know that it is normal for you to be feeling insecure and unsure of yourself. You are going through a tough time, during which it seems as if everything about you is wrong. It’s easy to hate on yourself when the pictures of beauty you see don’t look like you. It’s even easier to hate on yourself when your friends are judging the way you look and act every day. The truth is, though, that they are judging and criticizing because they share the same insecurities. I’m not sure that helps you, but at least keep it in mind the next time you feel bad about yourself because of something a friend says. She’s probably saying it because she feels bad about herself. In this book, I try to be honest with you about what I’ve learned about being a teenage girl. I’ve learned these things from my own life as well as from the experiences of my students. I’m sharing them with you because I think that we can do a lot better. We shouldn’t have to feel insecure, and we certainly shouldn’t feel like we have to compete with the women around us to feel better about ourselves. We should be able to feel good about ourselves, and be proud of the strong, beautiful, interesting, capable, young women we are. I hope my words can help you do just that.