If 'Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret' Happened in 2014, Here's What It Would Look Like

We may have all been wrong about Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Whole generations of readers regard the Judy Blume novel as utter menstrual mythology. Read it as an adult, though, and you'll see that it’s so much more.

I re-read the book recently and was surprised to see how little of the story is actually about periods. Margaret and her friends worry about getting theirs throughout the book, and they buy pads to practice with before they’ve started, but in terms of puberty breakdown, it’s like 30 percent periods and 70 percent boobs. But even then, the story is primarily focused on Margaret figuring out what religion she belongs to — her parents raised her without one, and she’s determined to choose for herself — and navigating the social circles of her 6th grade class.

I read the book dozens of times while I was growing up. Margaret’s worries about fitting in were completely relatable, but the book was written in 1970 — some aspects of the story just didn’t translate to the late '90s. The edition I grew up with had Margaret using sanitary napkin belts, cream rinses, and hair rollers, but the book has been updated slightly since; the 1986 edition I just re-read had Margaret using a pad, which is a slightly more modern touch, and will hopefully engage new readers. Don’t get me wrong — Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is a straight-up masterpiece, and Judy Blume is THE BEST, but I'd love to see Margaret in the 21st century. Here's how it could happen.

The Old

The title is Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

The New

The title is Are You There God? It’s Me, Madison.


The Old

Nancy Wheeler arrives at Margaret’s house to welcome her to the neighborhood and asks her to play under her sprinklers. Margaret runs upstairs and asks her mom if she can go, and her mom’s all “Sure, whatever, have fun.”

The New

Margaret’s mom would insist on going downstairs to meet Nancy (who would be Emma or Isabella in 2014, BTW) and would call her mother to make sure an adult would be supervising. 

The Old

Margaret’s mom is always helping her wash her hair and setting it in rollers.

The New

This sort of big-production primping still happens, but I can’t imagine any 11-year-old willing to let her mom wash her hair. If anything, today Margaret’s mom would help her daughter straight-iron that one piece of hard-to-reach hair at the back of her head and help her choose which mirror selfie to post. 

The Old

Margaret and her friends pull their elbows back and thrust out their chests while chanting “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!”

The New

Girls born in the early aughts have been Googling since kindergarten; they know that’ll never work. They’d be ordering shady growth supplements off of Amazon with their parents’ credit card numbers that they have memorized.

The Old

Margaret goes to Rosh Hashanah services with her grandma, and à la Jackie Kennedy, she wears a new suit, a velvet hat, and white gloves for the occasion.

The New

People are the worst these days! No one dresses up anymore. Is everywhere a supermarket? I go to Rosh Hashanah services at my local university’s Hillel, and all the women wear these sort of loose peasant skirts with sneakers. Margaret would be way more casual at schul.


The Old

Margaret’s dad can’t believe that his daughter and her best friend talk on the phone every night after school.

The New

The girls would be Snapchatting and FaceTiming and PhoneHugging for hours on end, and her dad wouldn’t even think it was a big deal.

The Old

Margaret’s dad gets Playboy, and he usually keeps it in the family magazine rack. Margaret and her friends steal one of his copies to look at the centerfold.

The New

Hi, Internet. Margaret and her friends would find their own porn online, and so would her dad.  

The Old

Margaret’s 6th grade class plays a game of Two Minutes in Heaven at a party.

The New

Actually, that’s so sweet and innocent, and feels pretty accurate: I remember the most experienced girl I knew in the 6th grade proudly declared that she and her boyfriend once kissed for a minute and a half, which was probably an exaggeration. Anyway, they'd still play Two Minutes in Heaven today but it'd be livetweeted and hashtagged. 

The Old

Margaret has to use a sanitary belt when she first gets her period, or she uses a pad (depending on the edition you have).

The New

I guess pads are still par for the course for girls new to menstruating, but it’s 2014! How about we show a girl using an eco-friendly, alternative option, like a Diva Cup or a sea sponge?

 

images: robert couse-baker/flickr, zemlinki!/flickr, giphy.com, Cecil W. Stoughton/wikimedia, giphy.com, MattHurst/flickr, giphy.com, ellyjonez/flickr

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