Described as a blessing or a curse, a bonus or a bomb, the youthful population boom in the global South is thought to be the catalyst of present and future social change on a massive scale. These binary understandings of youth are popular among proponents of development programs aimed at young people, including for family planning. But dualistic, numbers-based theories oversimplify a much more complex picture. They narrow our perceptions of young populations and, when lacking more detailed understanding based in youth experience, have the potential to constrict sexual and reproductive health and rights. Instead, youth-friendly, inclusive sexual and reproductive health policy should build from young peoples' visions and diverse realities.