Sexual harassment can mean a lot of things, which makes it very confusing when you experience something horrible. Was THAT harassment? Was it assault? Is there even a difference?

Most importantly: What should I do now?

To help break things down, we’ve created a guide on what counts as sexual harassment, what to do if you experience or witness it, and the importance of reporting these crimes.

What counts as sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment (or sexual assault) is any unwanted, uncomfortable sexual behaviour towards you.

This can include:

· Groping (your bum or boobs, most commonly)
· Standing unnecessarily and intimidatingly way too close to you
· Rubbing up against you
· Making sexual comments towards you
· Leering (staring at you persistently with a creepy smile – you know the kind)
· Taking photos of you (sometimes up your skirt/dress, known as ‘upskirting’)

All of this behaviour is incredibly gross and incredibly wrong, but happens on a daily basis. Sometimes it can happen at school, on the streets, or on trains and buses.

This guide is directed more towards sexual harassment/assault on public transport, but the information and support can be useful for any situation. Sexual harassment doesn’t follow any rules. If the behaviour is making you uncomfortable, wherever you are and however small it might seem, you have every right to do something about it.

If someone is sexually harassing me, what do I do?!

Your fight or flight response is likely to kick in as soon as you realise something is wrong. This means that you might instantly run away, try to fight back, or freeze on the spot.

Don’t be ashamed of any of these reactions. They’re completely natural. But, BTP (The British Transport Police) has some advice if you can take just a few seconds to think about what’s happening and what to do:

· Try and move away, if you can, to another part of the bus or train, etc
· If it’s a busy bus or train and you can’t move away, try to shift your body to displace their movements, or get out of their eyeline
· Text BTP on 61016 telling them where you are and what’s happening
· If you’re below ground on the tube, write any of this information down on your phone
· Try to catch someone’s eye, they might see what’s happening and can support you

It might be your natural instinct to engage with this person but sometimes it’s not safe to do so. It’s best to judge the situation first, if you can take a moment to breathe.

There are stories of women grabbing the perpetrator’s hand and holding it aloft asking, “WHOSE DIRTY HAND IS THIS?!” to shame them, or bluntly turning around and politely asking them to “stop taking photos up my dress, please” or telling them to “get your hand off my bum, now”, but these are very brave reactions – and sometimes unsafe reactions.

The horrible creep has gone… now what?

If you’ve managed to get away, or they’ve upped and left, you now have a few options about what you can do.

The most important thing is to look after yourself. Make sure you’re ok. Have a sit down somewhere, go for a walk, or text a friend. You’ve been through something pretty shitty, so look after yourself.

It’s a good idea to report these incidents as soon as they happen, but it’s totally up to you. We’d encourage you to text BTP on 61016 or call them on 0800 40 50 40, or call 101 if it happened away from public transport. Always call 999 in an emergency.

If you’re nervous about getting in contact with the police, that’s ok. Talk to a friend, family member, teacher, or staff member if it happened on public transport. They can support you both emotionally and practically.

If you don’t feel comfortable reporting what happened at all, that’s ok too. And if you feel in six months’ time that you DO want to report it, you can. It’s never too late.

But what’s even the point in reporting it?

It’s a fair question. Sexual harassment happens all the time (getting beeped at by men in vans, having boring, horrible comments thrown at you by construction workers, boys in school making sexual jokes to impress their mates…) so what’s the point in reporting it? It’s just life?

Nope! No, it’s not. No thank you. Not ‘just life’. No. #no.

Firstly, this behaviour is wrong and your body is yours alone. Nobody should ever make you feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or unsafe with their behaviour. It’s not fair and it’s not right, and contributes to an unequal society.

Secondly, this behaviour could easily lead to something even worse. Reporting what happened to you could help save a lot of harm for others, and bring justice for yourself.

The police will take you seriously. There are many campaigns out there to encourage victims to come forward, like #ReportItToStopIt and Project Guardian.

You can help the police build a picture of this person. Your story, CCTV, and plain-clothed police officers patrolling the areas where these crimes have been reported will all help to find and arrest them.

What if I see it happening to someone else?

You can definitely support a victim of sexual harassment without confronting the perpetrator.

If you’re on public transport, you can:

· Put yourself between the perpetrator and victim
· Make eye contact with the victim so they know they’re supported
· Ask the victim if they’re ok, both during and after the incident
· Ask them if they’d like any help reporting what happened. You can’t force them, but they might be more inclined to report it if there’s someone with them who knows what to do… like you!
· Record any details of the perpetrator – what they’re wearing, what they look like, what they sound like, and what they’re doing, as well as times and dates, and details of the bus/train you’re on
· You can try to take a photo or video of what’s happening but only if it’s safe to do so. Make sure you hand this over to the police, even though it may be tempting to put it on social media

If you’re in public and the victim is on their own then you can stand with them and ask if they’re ok. Again, take any note of who the perpetrator is just in case the victim does want to report it.

Is there anyone else apart from the police who I can speak to?

Yep, there are many organisations (as well family, friends, teachers, and GPs!) who can practically and emotionally support you:

· Rape Crisis can support victims of sexual harassment whoever you are, whatever happened, and however long ago the incident was.

· SurvivorsUK can offer support to male victims of sexual harassment via webchat or text chat.

· Victim Support can give you both practical and emotional support if you’ve been affected by any crime, including sexual harassment.

· The Mix is a charity supporting all under 25s in the UK with any issue. You can speak to their trained team via their helpline, forums, email, or one-to-one chats.

· Childline can support you if you’re under 19. Their support is also available via phone, email, and one-to-one chats.

Experiencing sexual harassment or assault, no matter who it’s from and in what situation, is awful and a complete violation of your body and consent. But there are so many people out there who will believe that it happened to you and will want to support you.

You’re brave, you’re strong, and you deserve only the very best treatment, ya hear?

Image: Kick-Ass

First thing’s first, despite the title of this article there’s absolutely no need to do anything to your pubic hair unless you want to. There are zero health benefits to removing your lady fuzz – it simply comes down to personal preference. Some girls get rid of all of it, some give theirs a little trim now and then, and some let theirs grow wild and free. It’s entirely up to you, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

But if you do decide to do some landscape gardening, there are some things you need to know. Your pubic hair is usually coarser than your leg and underarm hair, and the area is likely to get hotter and sweatier than other parts of your body – all of which can affect which hair-removal method is right for you. Here are your options…

Shaving

Shaving is a cheap, fuss-free way of tidying up your lady garden, but to do the job right you’ll need a good set of tools including scissors, a decent razor and shaving gel or cream. If you’ve got sensitive skin you might want to invest in a post-shave balm, too.

Pros: Quick, easy and cheap.

Cons: Hair grows back in a couple of days, regrowth can be itchy as hell, razor rash isn’t pretty.

Pro-tip: Trim the public hair so it’s around 1-2mm long, then gently exfoliate the area before shaving to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. Apply a good layer of shaving cream then shave along with your body’s natural curves – a razor with a pivoting head is good for this. Change the blade after a few uses to keep bacteria at bay and ensure your shaves are as smooth as possible.

Depilatories

Depilatory creams work by breaking down the keratin structure of each hair, essentially dissolving the base of the hairs until they’re weak enough to be broken off when they’re wiped away. Apply the cream, wait, then rinse. Voila!

Pros: Easy to use and the results can last up to two weeks.

Cons: Usually quite smelly, sometimes a bit pricey and not everyone gets long-lasting results.

Pro-tip: Follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. You’re basically putting a whole heap of chemicals on your skin, and while they’ve obviously been safety-tested it’s always possible you might have a reaction. Also, if you’re getting rid of everything (and we mean everything), choose a cream specially formulated for the bikini area – not all creams are suitable for your most sensitive bits.

Epilators

An epilator is a handheld device that looks like an electric razor, but definitely isn’t. Instead of cutting the hair at the root, dozens of electronic tweezers on the device pluck each individual hair clean out of the skin.

Pros: Long-lasting results, if you’ve got your own it’s easy to do touch-ups whenever it suits you.

Cons: Painful, epilators can be expensive.

Pro-tip: We’re not going to beat around the bush (ha, bush), epilating your bikini line can be super painful and can result in quite a lot of irritation, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. We wouldn’t recommend buying one without trying epilating first, so you might want to borrow one from a mate or family member to start with (make sure you sanitise it before using it). Numb the area with ice before you start (freezer blocks work a treat) and pull the skin taught as you go. And take deep breaths!

Waxing

Everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Kim Kardashian advocates the virtues of waxing, mainly because of its long-lasting results. It works like epilating, by removing the hair from the root. The main difference is that it’s a lot quicker – a few rips and you’re done. Plus, repeated waxing means the hair thins down over time, so it becomes more comfortable. There are a few options:

1. Specially-formulated waxing strips, which you simply apply to the area then remove.
2. Hot wax, which is applied in a thin layer over the area then pulled off with a strip of cloth.
3. Hot wax which is applied to the area and then pulled off directly once it’s cooled.

Pros: Long-lasting results, not too expensive, all over quickly if you get it done by a pro.

Cons: Can be painful, you’ll have to wait for regrowth before waxing again, messy if you’re doing it yourself.

Pro-tip: If you’re a first time waxer, definitely go to a salon. You don’t want to end up sitting in your bathroom with a crotch covered in wax, unable to finish the job yourself! If you’ve got a bit of waxing experience (maybe you’ve done your legs before), start off with ready-prepared waxing strips specially formulated for the bikini zone – they’re usually pretty failsafe. Whether you go to a salon or try DIY, pop an ibuprofen half an hour before waxing to help keep the discomfort to a minimum.

Laser hair removal

Laser is a newish type of hair removal that uses a strong beam of light to penetrate the skin to destroy the hair follicle. It sounds a bit terrifying but it’s relatively painless – it feels a bit like having a rubber band gently pinged against your skin. It works best on darker, coarse hair, and it takes a few sessions to properly kill the hair off (usually around six, depending on the amount of hair you want removed). Once it’s dead, though, it’s probably never coming back.

Pros: Almost permanent results.

Cons: Very pricey, not suitable for everyone.

Pro-tip: Before you commit to anything, go for a consultation with a reputable clinic – they’ll be able to tell you whether you’re a good candidate for laser. And remember, the results are usually permanent so think carefully before opting for a completely stripped-back Hollywood. You never know what bikini hair trends will make a comeback, so you might want to leave something to play with in the future.

Image: Kate Borrill

The end of school is nigh, and all of a sudden you feel like you’ve got 100 decisions to make. What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to go to college, or uni, or do I want to get stuck straight into work? It’s easy to feel lost when you don’t know what you want to do, or how to get there.

But while you have literally your whole life to make up your mind, a little bit of good advice can go a long way. So with that in mind, in a series of interviews, we’re speaking to women who’ve ‘made it’, and asking their advice on how to follow in their footsteps.

This month, we speak to Regula Ysewijn, a food photographer and writer.

What actually *is* your job?

I am a food writer, photographer and author. I also do a lot of judging, so for the Great Taste Awards, the World Cheese Awards which is great, and also the Belgian version of The Great British Bake Off. So there are different aspects to what I do, but it’s all about food.

How did you get into it?

The cooking came first, because I always wanted to eat lovely things. Then, when I was travelling, I would take pictures of whatever I was eating, and make a note of where you could buy nice food and great places to eat in a blog, but it was only really for myself. Then after a while, people began to read it. I thought, what is this? All of a sudden I had a proper food blog, so I started to put more effort into my writing and my photography, cooking more. So for me it all started with a love of food, and wanting to capture and remember it.

What’s the coolest part of your job?

I enjoy meeting different people and experiencing different cultures. Every single time I do a shoot, I learn so much. Having people open up to me and capturing their lives in a unique way is a privilege.

What are the bad parts?

A lot of people do not want to pay the price. It’s a big problem, not just for photographers and writers but also graphic designers, illustrators and artists. There’s a lot of competition, so sometimes you don’t get the job because somebody is offering to do it cheaper. Sometimes you have a hard time getting paid what you deserve.

The Big Question: uni, or no uni? 

A course or qualification might be handy to learn about things like composition, but the photographers I know are hugely self-taught—I suppose if you can why not, it’s always good to learn, but I would suggest people just get their camera, photograph every day and practise, practise, practise. You do not really need to go to school, it’s more about time and willpower. You have to be passionate about it, that’s the first rule. It’s a good idea to start a blog—it doesn’t have to be writing, it can just be photos. It’s always good to have a portfolio of sorts, and it’s good for that not to be static; for the blog to be alive and updated constantly. It’s a great way to show your work and personality.

I studied art in high school and as part of that we did four hours of photography a week, but it was still analogue back then and it was too expensive for my parents to pay for all the things connected to photography. I got a job working as a graphic designer, doing my blog on the side. I think the skills I learned as a graphic designer have definitely come in handy.

So, do you have to be a fancy chef?

You don’t have to be a chef or anything but you do really need to understand food—how to play with the light, for example, and what to take into account. We do not use shoe polish and all kinds of stuff anymore, it is real food, so you need to have everything set up correctly so that you can photograph a dish immediately. Often you see people who don’t have that experience will leave the food on the set too long and by that time, it’s wilted and horrible. Every photographer has their own field, either food or portrait or landscape—it’s not a given that if you can do, one you can do the other.

What’s your fave food to cook (and eat)? 

That’s a really hard question. I enjoy oxtail stew, things that are slow to cook. I also love to make bolognese ragu, because I know I am really good at it! Every time I make and eat it I am a little bit proud. I make such a stunning bolognese! I don’t like complicated cooking: I like good, honest food.

If you were to give one piece of advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

I think I would say, do exactly the same as you are doing! I was lucky enough to figure out what I wanted to do very early in life and I have managed to make the right choices. My one regret is not going abroad to study something or to live and work but then again, if I did that I would never have met my husband. I think I would say to myself, you’re obviously having a hard time because you’re a teenager, but follow your passion and do not compromise on that. Keep on going, always follow your dream, even if you don’t have the money—it’s because of my passion that I am where I am today.

@EllieCostigan

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

Starting to think about university options? Exam season makes you think about the future like that, right? Or maybe you already know exactly what you want to do with life, but you’re not sure which subject route to take.

Don’t fret; turns out what you study might not actually have a huge impact on your future career anyways. Why do we say that? Well, because these 10 celebrities achieved some very unexpected degrees indeed…

1. Kourtney Kardashian has a degree in Theatre and Spanish

She’s the Kardashian known for her love of interiors and healthy living, but did you know that Kourt is a secret Spanish whizz? She studied the language, along with Theatre, at the University Of Arizona.

2. Lisa Kudrow graduated with a Biology degree

Lisa might have played ditzy Phoebe in Friends, but IRL the actress is super smart, and graduated from Vasser College with a degree in Biology. She went back to the College in 2010 to give a kickass speech to the graduating class, explaining how she went from Bio grad to actress – check out Lisa’s wise words in the video above!

3. Mayim Bialik has a Neuroscience degree

The role of neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory is perfect for Mayim, because she actually has a degree in Neuroscience from UCLA, plus a Ph.D. Genius.

4. Natalie Portman has a degree in Psychology

Proving that you don’t need to go to uni straight after school, Natalie took a four-year break from acting in 2000 to study Psychology at Harvard University. She did manage to squeeze Star Wars filming into her summer holidays – just your average student, then.

5. Sasha Baron Cohen has a History degree

You probably know him as Ali G, Bruno or Borat, but Sasha actually graduated from Cambridge with a History degree. Unexpected, eh?

6. Will Ferrell has a degree in Sports Information

Who knew Buddy The Elf was a sports fan? Will graduated from USC with a BA in Sports Information and went back to the university earlier this year to give an inspiring speech, which you can watch above.

7. Chris Martin graduated with a degree in Ancient World Studies

The Coldplay frontman got his Ancient World Studies degree from University College London. That’s one cool alumnus; wonder if they email him for yearly updates for the prospectus?

8. Rooney Mara has a degree in Psychology, International Social Policy and Non-Profits

Well that’s a massive mouthful! Rooney graduated from New York University’s Gallatin School Of Individualised Study in 2010 – the same year she appeared in A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Social Network. This girl’s got skills.

9. Tom Hiddleston has a degree in Classics

Before he dated Taylor Swift, Tom attended Cambridge and graduated with a Double First in Classics, smarty pants.

10. J.K. Rowling’s degree is in French and Classics

We would have pegged her as an English grad, but Harry Potter author J.K. actually studied French and Classics at Exeter University, before creating the boy wizard we all know and love.

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

You’ve been chatting online for a while, and now you’re ready to take things off-screen and into reality – eeek! Loads of people make IRL friends and relationships through the internet and social media so meeting in the flesh is nothing to be worried about, but it’s normal to have a few nerves (ok, a lot of nerves).

So here are a few pointers to make sure your first meeting goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Do a bit of online sleuthing

Ok, chances are you’ve already stalked their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (but of course you’d never admit it ‘cos you’re cooler than that, right?), so you’re definitely up to speed with their life online. But before you agree to meet, do a little research to make sure they are who they say they are. Do you have any mutual who could vouch for them? Do they have pictures with friends, or are they just solo selfies? We’ve all seen Catfish – never underestimate the power of a reverse image search!

2. Get your friends’ opinions

Your mates know you better than anyone, so they’re in a pretty good position to judge whether or not your crush seems like a decent match for you. Admittedly they’ve only got the same online intel as you, but fancying the pants off someone can make you blind to red flags, so it doesn’t hurt to get another opinion. Plus, your mates being clued up about who you’re meeting is always a sensible safety precaution.

3. Meet in public

This is pretty obvious, but worth repeating! Even if you’re desperate to check out their games collection or they offer to whip up a storm for you in the kitchen, make sure the first time you meet is in a busy public place, preferably with a friend nearby. If everything goes well they can cook for you next time, right? If they’re a decent person they’ll totally understand, so be wary if they’re weird or pushy about meeting somewhere private.

4. Keep it casual

Don’t make a nervy time worse by adding a stressful or potentially embarrassing activity (abseiling! Karaoke!) into the mix. Going for a walk in the park, grabbing a coffee or catching a movie are all pretty failsafe ideas. If you really want to take the pressure off, you could suggest a big group meet-up involving your friends and their friends, too.

5. Dress like yourself

If you feel uncomfortable in what you’re wearing, it’ll show – and you want to feel as relaxed as possible, right? Wear layers so you’re prepared for whatever the weather might throw at you, and think about leaving the killer heels at home. You don’t want to spend a (potentially) romantic walk in the park cursing your newly-forming blisters.

6. Have an escape plan

Make sure you’ve got a friend on standby, ready to send the ol’ OH-NO-THERE’S-AN-EMERGENCY text, in case you want to bail early. Or, if you can’t quite bring yourself to do that, tell your date that you can only hang out with them until a certain time because you’ve got to babysit or do family stuff afterwards. That way you’ve got a ready-made escape plan, but if you’re having a good time and want to extend things, you can just pretend you’re not needed at home after all.

7. Take cash with you

It just makes everything more convenient. You won’t have to waste time looking for a cashpoint should you need one, and it saves the hassle of splitting a bill across two cards. Plus, if you want to leave in a hurry you can just chuck your share of the lunch money on the table and scarper.

8. Manage your expectations

It’s really easy to build up an imaginary picture of your crush based on what they’re like online, but they might be totally different in real life. Go into your date with an open mind – that way you won’t be too disappointed if they’re not exactly how you’d hoped they would be.

9. Don’t rush into anything

It takes time to get to know someone properly, so even if you’ve been chatting online for months there’s still a lot to discover about your crush – and a lot for them to discover about you. They’ve never seen you when you’re hangry, you’ve never seen them when they’re feeling blue. Even if your first meeting has gone really well, you don’t need to jump into a relationship just because you’ve known each other for a while online. Take your time. If they’re the one for you they’ll respect that.

10. Be yourself

The beauty of the internet is that you can curate your online persona however you like. We’re all guilty of taking a thousand selfies in order to get the very best angle, or carefully ‘gramming a cup of tea next to the bath to make it look like we’re having a lovely night in when we’re actually bored out of our minds with nothing else to do. A little bit of artistic license is a given. But when it comes to real life, let your crush see who you really are, not who you think they want you to be. You’ve got to be yourself, because in the end, it’s exhausting being anything else.

@Rachel_England

Being a victim of harassment is horrible, and so is witnessing it happening to someone else. But what should you do in that situation? Are there certain rules? What if you don’t do anything? Should you ignore it? Should you fight back?

Being in the moment can totally throw you, but this little guide will hopefully give you the basics to remember if you ever end up in the middle of something nasty.

What counts as harassment?

Harassment is any behaviour from someone that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened. It could mean unwanted texts, online and offline abuse (verbal and physical), stalking, or threats.

Pretty nasty stuff, right?

The kind of harassment we want to tackle in this guide is public abuse, either on the streets or on public transport. This kind is often classed as a ‘hate crime’.

What’s the difference between harassment and a hate crime?

Hate crime is a specific type of harassment that’s based on prejudice. You’re a victim of hate crime if you’ve been or are being abused for the colour of your skin, religion, sexuality, gender, or disability.

Being a victim of a hate crime can be a harrowing experience, but there are many people and organisations out there who can and will listen and support you.

I’m being harassed RIGHT NOW, what do I do?!

Try to not panic. You will be ok. The main thing to remember is not to engage with this person, as they’re likely irrationally riled up and threatening. Your safety comes first.

The British Transport Police (BTP) have a number you can text to report any crime or unwanted behaviour on public transport. Text what’s happening and your location to 61016. This is especially helpful if you need to be subtle and can’t call 999.

Sometimes it can be SO tempting to turn around and tell this person why they’re being such a massive knob, but the sad truth is: if someone has started harassing you in public then they’re clearly confident enough to do so, and are unlikely to listen.

BUT, there are some things you can do, as well as reporting the incident.

If you’re on public transport:

– Try and move carriages/seats
– Get off at the next stop if you feel in danger
– Look for the nice faces of people who want to help you.

If you’re on the streets then:

– Just keep walking
– Make sure you stay where there’s lots of people – ie. don’t go down any side streets
– However tempting it may be, don’t look at the perpetrator
– Maybe put some earphones in or read a book (this goes for being on public transport, too).

Just remember to not give the big baby any attention. They’ll soon get bored when nobody’s listening to them.

Can I report it afterwards?

Absolutely! You can report it even months afterwards, and we’d encourage you to do so if you feel comfortable doing it. You can speak to station staff if you’re travelling by train, the bus/tram driver if it’s safe to, or the police. You can dial 999, text BTP on 61016, or call BTP on 0800 40 50 40 at any time.

You might feel like the incident wasn’t actually that bad, or that nobody will listen to you, or that there are worse things for the police to be tackling, but you are completely within your rights to report a hate crime or harassment. That person could end up doing worse things to other people and anyway, your feelings are valid. You should never have to put up with behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

What about if I see it happening to someone else?

It can be so, so hard to know what to do in this situation. You likely feel like you should DO something to stop it, but also feel terrified. And that’s ok! Your fight/flight response will kick in and your body may well freeze, run away, or try to tackle the situation. Don’t be ashamed by your reaction.

The general advice from the British Transport Police is to not engage with the perpetrator, especially if they’re angry and violent as that could make the situation worse. Instead, it’s better to talk to the victim. One woman has even created a cartoon to help bystanders support someone during a hate crime – the main points to remember are:

– Stand or sit with the victim so they know they’re supported

– Talk about rubbish with them! Ask how they are, comment on the weather, or ask what they’re having for dinner tonight.

– In an ideal situation, more people will then join you (it always just takes one person to encourage others) and you’ll create a buffer between the perpetrator and victim.

– Creating these safe spaces will be so important to the victim, and supporting them is way more important than confronting the douchebag harasser.

– Ask the victim if they want you to get off the train/bus/tram with them and stay until they feel comfortable, or if they want some support reporting the incident.

– Remember, you can encourage them to report it, but you can’t force them. It’s important to let them be in charge.

– If you can’t stick with the victim during the incident, you can always try to record it if it’s safe to do so. This will provide solid evidence for the police. And it might be tempting to share this on social media, but it’s always best to contact the police first.

I feel crap about what I experienced. What shall I do?

It’s totally normal for something like this to affect you. You could feel anxious and low immediately afterwards, or even in a few months’ time. But thankfully there are many organisations who can help you feel better.

Victim Support can give you practical and emotional support, and can help you with the process of reporting and dealing with harassment/a hate crime. Visit their website here.

True Vision can give you more information on how to report a hate crime. They offer a service where you can report the crime anonymously online, which may feel less intimidating.

Tell MAMA supports victims of anti-Muslim hate. They have heaps of specialised information and you can even speak to them via WhatsApp.

Stop Hate UK is charity supporting all victims and witnesses of hate crime, and have specialised support for LGBTQ+, trans, and disabled victims of hate crime.

Community Security Trust is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism. They have lots of information and a reporting service.

The Mix is a charity supporting all under-25s in the UK with any issue. You can speak to their trained team via their helpline, forums, email, or one-to-one chats.

Childline can support you if you’re under 19. Their support is also available via phone, email, and one-to-one chats.

Being harassed or witnessing a hate crime can be horrible experiences, but always remember that you’re in control of how you deal with it afterwards. There are so many people out who will be on your side, including us! You’re amazing and important, whoever you are, and we can all do our bit to help put a stop to harassment and hateful behaviour.

@louisejonesetc

Image: Unsplash

Confetti Crowd are ‘The UK’s most colourful girl gang of creatives’, who draw, sing, write and dress themselves up in rainbows and we love them, big time. We already talked to them about periods and growing up, but now they’re here to tell us what advice they’d give to their 14-year-old selves.

Lulu

“I would tell my 14-year-old self ‘don’t pluck your eyebrows’, because my eyebrows don’t grow anymore and I think that’s because I used to pluck them. And I would say don’t bleach your hair. I used to bleach my hair when I was a teenager like, once a week – I’d go blue, then bleach it back to blonde, then I’d go pink then I’d bleach it and go purple and I just killed my hair. I would say don’t put concealer on your lips. I don’t think that’s a thing anymore, but it was!

Don’t rush to get into relationship with boys. I wasted so many years on losers. And don’t care what anyone thinks. People used to take the piss out of us for dressing weird and now it’s our job.”

Heidi

“I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs or anything, then one day I dyed my hair blonde and it all fell out. So that’s what I would tell my 14-year-old self: listen to your mum. Listen to whatever she says. Mums are always right.

Be nice to the people who are mean to you – don’t be mean back. I always feel like when we were younger and someone was mean, you’d just be nasty back and if you’re just nice back, one day they’re going to be nice back.”

Tiger

“I’d say don’t be so self conscious with your weird style. We used to wear things to school and other girls would be like: ‘Oh my god why are you wearing that in your hair? Or whatever.’”

Heli

“Leave your hair alone. Also, I used to be very funny about my weight when I was younger, I used to think I was really big when I wasn’t. I put myself down a lot, so I would say: stop doing that. Stop putting yourself down and enjoy your teenhood because weight isn’t important. And don’t feel like you’ve got to do whatever everyone else is doing. You can be your own person. It’s fine if you don’t want to do what everyone else wants to do.”

@ConfettiCrowd

This week we caught up with entrepreneur, My Flash Trash founder and digital guru Amber Atherton to ask her what advice she’d give her 14-year-old self. Here’s what she said…

“My advice would be: stop hanging out with people that you don’t really like. And this is something I still say to people now.

“Don’t follow people on Instagram or spend time with people that don’t make you the best version of yourself. Life’s too short, you do grow out of people and I think people are holding onto something when really you’ll just feel so much better if you just cut it off.

“So, I think I would say to myself don’t waste time on people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. Do that Facebook cull, unfollow people on Instagram – it’s so simple but so effective.

“You know you have that thing where you go on social media and you’re like, ‘God, my life is really not that great!’ – everyone has that. Major celebrities have that as well, it’s the FOMO thing… and as soon as you take that out of your life you just feel so much better because you’re more focused on you, and what you’re doing, and your own path. That should always be your focus.”

Brb, just going to go and do a Facebook cull. Cheers Amber.

In her new interview with Vogue, Selena Gomez is FULL of interesting information. Plus, we actually get to see *inside* her house, and spoiler, it’s just as dreamy as you’d hoped.

Facts we’ve learned: she’s obsessed with the game ‘Heads Up’. She loves Europe (woo!). She wants to learn a new language. She thanked me individually for helping her (fine, it wasn’t me individually, she thanked all her Instagram followers, but whatever). Her first memory is of her mum painting. The first concert she ever went to was Britney Spears. Her favourite word is grateful. If she had to choose another career, she’d be a chef.

What’s her advice to her 15-year-old self? “Go ahead and do it, because you’re going to do it anyway.”

And what does she know now that she didn’t know when she was 15? “Patience”.

Selena, are you trying to tell us something…?

When I was at school I had all kinds of grand career plans. I was going to be a Blue Peter presenter. Obviously. I mean, they PAY YOU to go on a massive summer holiday every year. Or maybe I’d be a journalist. Or a barrister. Or a diplomat. I didn’t know what that last one involved other than living abroad and going to Ambassadors’ Balls where I’d need to wear gowns and eat canapés but I mean, YES PLEASE. But yeah – when I say had grand plans, what I mean is that I had no bloody clue whatsoever what I was going to do with my life.

And if you’re in the same boat and are starting to panic, I’m here to tell you there’s no need. It’s totally fine not to know what you want to do. Seriously. No. Biggie.

Even Clare Howard, a careers advisor, is with me on this. “I interview youngsters all over the country, and the majority of them don’t know what they want to do. And that’s absolutely nothing to worry about. How could you possibly know? You haven’t had the opportunity to try things or even think about jobs, really.”

There are some things that could help you achieve Beyoncé levels of future success though, even if you have no idea what that future looks like. “Nowadays people are going to have lots of different jobs,” Clare says, “so it’s important to develop transferable skills that you can take from one job to another, like communication or project management. I’d also advise picking your A-levels and (if you’re going to university) your degree because you’ll enjoy them, not because you think they’ll get you a better job.”

“Talk to people about their own career pathways and why they made the choices they did. And get lots of work experience – it gives you some of the skills that’ll make you employable, and helps you work out where your heart really lies.”

Just to be totes upfront though, once you get out into the big bad working world, you might still feel as confused as Louis Walsh at the end of Judges Houses (or Louis Walsh during any part of X Factor, let’s be honest). And that’s all good, too. I took a very winding path to get to where I am now – a general degree; a year abroad; jobs in sales, events, space travel (I wish) and marketing before I became a journalist. TBH I’m not even sure if journalism is what I’ll do forever – I’ve just finished a Masters in something totally different. And that’s fine, too.

Loads of my friends feel the same, including Faye who’s a freelance Art Director, designing magazines, books and adverts. It’s a supercool job, especially since she moved to Australia so she can surf after work (you see, your future could literally take you anywhere). But she’s sometimes felt confused. “I went through a big turmoil at uni, thinking I’d picked the wrong course (Graphic Design) and should be doing English because I liked writing. Then at some point it clicked that you can be interested in a range of things and use that to inform what you’re doing. Being interested in writing has ended up being a strength. I can see how the design and words need to fit together, and I often write concept ideas for my clients.”

But like me, she still doesn’t have a tidy life map in her head. “I don’t think what I’m doing now is what I’ll do forever and I don’t have a real plan for my next few years, which is fine. You’ve got to try different things and I think you can take things from every job. Plus, loads of great stuff has happened without me planning it. I never would have considered going freelance two years after uni but circumstances meant that I tried it. It ended up being the perfect thing for me at the time and I learnt so much. Not necessarily knowing what you’re doing can actually work out pretty well sometimes.”

And if you’re thinking my friends and I just got lucky, and that your life will defo implode unless you decide on one path RIGHT NOW, I’ve roped in another professional to help keep you breathing.

Career coach Corinne Mills thinks flexibility is where the future’s at. “Nowadays people have way more careers than they used to. People are living longer and working later and that actually opens up lots of chances for new experiences – you’re not going to want to do the same job at 20 as you do at 40 or 60.” Her advice is just to get stuck into something. “You don’t know what you like and are good at until you try things. Something that sounds glamorous, like PR, actually might not be for you because there’s a lot of humdrum work, too. Get as many experiences as you can and use each one to work out what you enjoy and what you don’t want to do again, then spontaneously work out as you go along what kind of path you want.”

And if there’s literally no job in the world that excites you, there’s still no need to sweat it. It probably just doesn’t exist yet. Caroline O’Donoghue is a Social Media Manager (which means somebody actually pays her to tweet. Dream job anyone?). But when she was at school she wanted to be a novelist. “The job I do now didn’t exist when I was at school. In fact, the only social media I had was Bebo. But when I moved to London and started bouncing around marketing jobs, social media just became my thing and I really enjoyed it. In the end though, my job actually gave me the storytelling skills I needed to write my book. A publisher bought it and I’m leaving my job soon to be a novelist!”

You see! Proof that everything will work itself out in the end. Promise.

@LucindaEverett

Image: Katie Edmunds

Corinne Mills is a Career Coach for Personal Career Management

Hate January? There’s a club for that! It’s called ‘everybody’ and we meet on the sofa, weeping quietly into a chocolate orange.

But while the whole month can feel full of pressure to change yourself, put more effort into life and generally become a better, shinier human, there is another way – and it’s what we at betty like to call the ‘anti-resolution’. The lazy gal’s resolution. The kind that goes: do less, be happier! Sleep more! And while there’s obviously much more to life than your beauty routine, it’s as good a place as any to start.

Here are our five anti-resolutions to give your hair and face a fabulously chill 2017. Zzz.

1. Put. The tweezers. Down. 

Sure, plucking has been a rite of passage for every teenage girl since humans evolved to have hair above their eyes (seriously, check out the Mona Lisa’s bald brows) – but ‘permanently surprised forehead tadpoles’ is nobody’s idea of an on-fleek beauty look, let’s be honest. And thanks to Cara D and Lily Cole, luscious caterpillar brows have never been, um, bigger… so maybe skip the pain session and let them grow like the beautiful face gardens they are.

Or at least follow the golden rules: only tweeze below the brow, never above it, don’t take too much from the inner corners (this is the voice of experience and I’m here to tell you: brow growth serum is expensive), and step away for a little break every few hairs to stop yourself going the full alien. There’s a reason Lisa was a moaner, you know.

2. Give your hair a holiday

And we don’t mean from washing, guys, even though dry shampoo is the true elixir of life and we all know it. We mean from the drying and curling and straightening and relaxing and tonging and straightening-a-bit-more because your fringe is doing that weird flicky thing again. Your signature ‘do could be a massive don’t when it comes to your poor frazzled ends. So let’s make 2017 the year we have a lie-in and embrace our natural hair a few days a week, shall we? Let’s own our weird flicky bits! Master the messy up-do! And if all else fails, this is why hats were invented.

3. Go easy on the exfoliating.

Sloughing away dead skin cells (yum) is an excellent way to keep your skin looking smooth, bright and healthy. But there is a big difference between proper exfoliating and battering your face like it’s an old bit of floor that needs sanding. Stick to gentle face scrubs a couple of times a week, or use a muslin face cloth to cleanse with – and resist the urge to rub it raw. FYI, you can’t scare spots away with aggression. That’s not a thing.

4. Embrace the actual shape of our faces

Ahh, 2016. The year of contouring. The year no make-up routine was complete (supposedly) without painting on fake cheekbones in the shade of that stuff your parents use to weatherproof the garden fence. And while we love the transformative magic of makeup (also: mesmerising YouTube tutorials of people turning themselves into Kardashians), it might be time to remember that faces are allowed to look round, rather than hollowed out like an apple core. Cheeks are meant to be soft and pillowy. It’s kind of their deal. Plus: think of everything you could achieve with all that blending time.

5. Have fun

It’s far too easy, living in the Age of the Everlasting Selfie, to get hung up on creating flawless perfection and forget that beauty is supposed to be fun. Messing around with hair and makeup should be a joy, not a chore. You’re like Picasso with a lipstick, not Michelangelo painting God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. So go wild! Be creative! Try that blue lipstick!

And if it stops being fun? Just don’t bother. That’s the lazy gal’s beauty law.

Image: Getty

Change can be a good thing. Changing your hair. Changing your bedsheets. Changing the world. The change in your pocket that helps you buy a doughnut.

But sometimes, and especially at new year, the pressure to change yourself can be a massive pain in the arse. “Make a resolution! Make another one! Join a gym! Run 10 miles! Eat more kale! Eat less everything else! Learn French! Learn to contour! Go out more! Stay in and do yoga! Get more sleep! Stop sleeping, you lazy slob!” After the lovely, cosy, sugar-topped fun of Christmas, January can feel like a big old pile of ‘you’re not good enough, loser’.

And to that, we say: nah. Shut up, nagging voices. Pipe down, people who believe that we need to overhaul our bodies, minds and lives just because the calendar flicked over a page. We’re fine as we are thanks – just as we were in December, and we will be the rest of the year too.

Instead, our January mantra on betty.me is ‘New year, same you!’. We’re going to be all about celebrating yourself – the actual you, not the perfect fairytale fantasy version – and spending time on stuff you really love, instead of the stuff you think you ought to be into. We’ll have ideas to celebrate staying in (mm, staying in), the most glorious geekery, exercise for people who really cba, and hacks to make the most of the wardrobe you already have – plus all our usual tips and funny tales from the coolest girls we know.

Shake things up, but don’t beat yourself up. Pick positive, realistic #goals, or just carry on doing exactly what you’re doing… because you’re doing it damned well.

Also nobody needs to eat any kale. Unless you actually want to.

Leslie Knope vegetable gif

Image: Katie Edmunds