Niharika Bedekar didn’t expect to have a life-changing event at age nine. But when she got her first period at that young age — compared with an average age of 13 — her eyes were opened not just to how it felt to be different from her peers but to how she could offer support to other girls. She realized how debilitating body image issues can be to a girl’s developing self esteem and she read up and learned that many future disorders have their root in events which take place during puberty.
She started Power Up, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping girls understand what their bodies will go through at puberty so it’s not scary or taboo. Many girls are scared to talk to their moms or even their friends, especially if they think they’re developing behind or ahead of someone else’s schedule. Niharika wants to do away with all those fears. “Puberty is the time to Power Up,” she says.
When she’s not studying at Stanford University, she is talking to groups of young girls about using age-appropriate behavior, confronting unrealistic media images and being comfortable with themselves.
She is currently lobbying the Santa Clara School Board to bring sex education to kids at a younger age and developing curriculum for schools to promote healthy body image and confidence in girls. “I’m glad I am who I am. I thought my knowledge would only help girls who started early but it helped all girls.”