Study Guide

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Appearances

By Judy Blume

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She was taller than me and had bouncy hair. The kind I'm hoping to grow. Her nose turned up so much I could look right into her nostrils. (2.5)

Right off the bat Margaret a little bit wants to be Nancy. She's got great hair, after all. But what do you think of this description of Nancy's nose? Does Margaret like it?

Nancy gave me the creeps the way she sat on her bed and watched me. I left my polo on until the last possible second. I wasn't about to let her see I wasn't growing yet. That was my business.

"Oh, you're still flat." Nancy laughed.

"Not exactly," I said, pretending to very cool. "I'm small boned, is all." (2.33-35)

These two have only just met, and Nancy's already sharing judgments about Margaret's appearance. Margaret feels self-conscious in response, and power has shifted firmly to Nancy in their dynamic now.

Well, I didn't think so, but I didn't say anything. My father gets Playboy and I've seen those girls in the middle. Nancy looked like she had a long way to go. Almost as far as me. (2.37)

Pro tip: It might seem like a long way to go, but sometimes it happens over night. Brace yourself, ladies.

There was this girl, who I thought was the teacher, but she turned out to be a kid in our class. She was very tall (that's why I thought she was the teacher) with eyes shaped like a cat's. You could see the outline of her bra through her blouse and you could also tell from the front that it wasn't the smallest size. (4.13)

Laura Danker is a reminder that appearances can be deceiving. Though she's often reduced to what she looks like, she ends up teaching Margaret this lesson better than anyone later on.

I took off my dress and put on the bra. I fastened it first around my waist, then wiggled it up to where it belonged. I threw my shoulders back and stood sideways. I didn't look any different. I took out a pair of socks and stuffed one sock into each side of the bra, to see if it really grew with me. It was too tight that way, but I liked the way it looked. Like Laura Danker. (7.1)

So even though Margaret follows the rest of the girls in judging Laura Danker because of how she looks, Margaret wants to look like her. That's pretty hypocritical, if you ask us.

Grandma smelled delicious. She was wearing a green suit and had on lots of green eyeshadow to match. Her hair was silver blonde. Grandma's hair color changes about once a month. (8.10)

If you only ever read these four sentences about her, you'd know Grandma Sylvia is awesome. Hop on over to her write-up in the "Characters" section for more on this sassy granny.

It's not so much that I like him as a person God, but as a boy he's very handsome. And I'd love to dance with him… just once or twice. (10.18)

We just love that Margaret doesn't pretend to think Philip's a decent person when she chats with God, and instead is completely honest: Philip is just easy on the eyes.

I tiptoed back to my room and closed the door. I stepped into my closet and stood in one corner. I shoved three cotton balls into each side of my bra. Well, so what if it was cheating! Probably other girls did it too. I'd look a lot better, wouldn't I? So why not!

I came out of the closet and got back up on my chair. This time when I turned sideways I looked like I'd grown. I liked it! (13.52-53)

So the cotton balls do nothing to affect who Margaret is, but they make her feel different. Do you think it's okay for her to use them then? Why or why not?

"Well, try thinking about it. Think about how you'd feel if you had to wear a bra in fourth grade and how everybody laughed and how you always had to cross your arms in front of you. And about how the boys called you dirty names just because of how you looked." (19.32)

Once we get to hear Laura's side of the story, we understand that it's actually been pretty rough for her to go through middle school with a more mature body than her peers.

I knew it was them right away. I knew it by the way they walked down the airplane stairs, clutching each other. And when they got closer I knew it by my grandmother's shoes – black with laces and fat heels—old lady shoes. My grandfather had white hair around the edges and none on top. He was shorter and fatter than my grandmother. (21.12)

In a book where so much emphasis is placed on appearances, it is significant that Judy Blume describes the Hutchinses like this. Margaret isn't above judging her grandparents based on their fuddy duddy clothes, and neither are we.

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