My friends have dated a lot of different types of people. While most of them have been lovely, funny, kind, brilliant people, there’ve also been a fair share of assholes and asshats. A couple of sexists and racists. A smattering of dickheads and douchebags. Far too many liars and cheaters. And yes, a few of them have even dated scumbags and low lifes.

Sometimes, you know these people suck, straight off the bat. But most of the time their crapness reveals itself gradually, like dusk dissolving into darkness. They seem like a perfectly reasonable person until you hear them say something like, “I just don’t find women funny,” or “Do you really need another piece of cake?”. Things that make your blood boil with rage because you’re friend, your wonderful, shining, amphibious unicorn of a friend, can’t quite see how awful this person is.

So what are you meant to do? Well, it’s a doozy. No matter how close you and your BFF are, no one wants to hear a bad word against their SO and you are at risk of getting yourself in a shooting-the-messenger situation. Which is obviously not ideal.

Personally, I have a three-month rule. Whenever one of my friends arrives at my front door all glazey eyed and smiling like they’ve slept with a coat hanger in their mouth, I always squeal along with them and listen as they talk about how magnificent this new person is. But somewhere in the back of my head, I mentally hit start on my three-month timer. From that point on, I have three months to form an opinion about their new partner in crime.

Because I’m a generally sunny, half-glass full person, I always give new partners the benefit of the doubt – plus my friends almost always have better judgement than I do, so if someone they’re dating is a little bit terrible, they’re pretty much always the first to notice and cut them loose. But every so often one slips through the cracks. Love makes the chemicals in your brain go all weird and twirly, so it’s completely understandable.

During that three months, I try and get a handle on this new person who has suddenly become a part of my social circle. I watch the way they treat my bestie, if they listen when she speaks, if they make her laugh, if they let her eat a bite of their burger even after she insisted she wasn’t hungry.

And if at some point during the three months I have doubts, I take a deep breath, scrounge up all the courage I have in my 5”4 body and *gently* mention my concerns to my friend.

“Did it upset you when X said Y?”

“Does X always put you down like that?”

Or “You seem a little subdued whenever X is around. Is everything ok?”

This generally goes one of two ways: they break up, or they don’t. Either way, you’ve said your piece and it’s now your job to take a step back and support your friend as much as possible.

If you don’t realise how much your BFF’s partner sucks until after the three months has passed – sorry, but tough. You had your three months, and the window is now closed, so all you can do is smoosh your nose against the glass and hope that it will be over soon. I know that sounds harsh, but unless the person they’re dating is really, truly, appallingly awful, you’ve got to wait this one out and trust that your friend will get there on her own. Because sometimes being a good friend is sitting down and shutting up and letting them find their own way. Otherwise, if you keep mentioning how much you dislike their partner, you risk driving a wedge between you and your BFF that could chip away at your friendship.

In the meantime, try your best to find something, anything in common with their bae – trains, species of orchid, Kimye. Anything. And if you seriously, honestly, find yourself feeling like a video game character who is just walking into a wall over and over again, steer the conversation towards your BFF. They’re something that you two will always have in common.

And you never know, over time, you might turn out to be wrong about their partner. I have been, loads of times.

@LilyPesch

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Hey, you learn something new every day! Or at least, in the case of me and my uterus, every month.

Here are the most important lessons I have learned while getting to, um, grips with tampons…

1. Don’t use tampons for the first time when you’re in a hurry

1) giphy-1

Puberty arrived for me when I turned 12, right at the end of the summer holidays. I was the youngest in my class, and when I returned to school for the autumn term, it seemed that everyone was an old hand at this period lark whereas I was still very much a novice. So when I felt that familiar tickle in my abdomen during Double French, a month after I got my first period, I wasn’t prepared with sanitary towels, and had to scuttle off to the loos clutching a tampon my friend gave me instead.

I had never used a tampon – only pads – but I found myself shivering in the freezing Victorian toilet, looking at this weird cotton pen-like thing, thinking “well, how hard can it be?”

Thirty seconds later I discovered exactly how hard when (and I swear this is true), not being able to see what I was doing – or even knowing what it was supposed to feel like – almost inserted the tampon into my bottom.

I went back to class with a rolled-up wad of loo paper in my knickers instead, and a face red with embarrassment. Also I limped a bit.

2.  Always read the instructions

2) giphy-3

Even though I’d studied the diagrams of the reproductive system at school, I still sort of thought that the vagina was a straightforward hole-tunnel affair, and that putting a tampon in would be like popping a cork in a bottle.

But, as I stood there with one foot on the toilet seat and my tongue poking out of my mouth in concentration, I was really glad I’d taken the time to unfold the gigantic instruction sheet and pore over it like an Ikea instruction manual. Otherwise I might not have realised that you need to angle the tampon towards the small of my back, or to consciously relax, and I might have ended up with a tampon in the bum again.

3. Don’t get frustrated if it’s not comfortable

3) Brave-Frustrated

Sometimes your vagina isn’t lubricated (slippy) enough and the tampon feels too rough. Sometimes you haven’t put it in far enough and it leaves a weird, heavy weight inside you. Sometimes the string gets squashed against your flesh. Sometimes the stars just aren’t aligned right.

Don’t worry that you’re not doing it right, or that something scary is up – just take it out (slowly!), relax, and try again later.

4. Always match the tampon to your flow

4) giphy-9

Sometimes when you go to the dentist for a procedure they’ll ask you to take a mild painkiller beforehand, in case you need pain relief later. Do not take this approach with tampons – it doesn’t matter if your flow starts off light and then gets heavier, always use the lightest possible option for your type of flow – otherwise it can feel uncomfortable until you start producing a heavier menses, and puts you at risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Also, it’s no fun walking around with a grimace on your face all day. No fun at all.

5. Don’t panic if it gets stuck!

5)giphy-12

Ok, there have been times when I’ve gone to pull the string out and nothing’s happened. It’s like there’s a team of vagina-gnomes in there holding fast to the other end, just to mess with me.

Whenever this happens, images start flashing through my mind – me, going ashen-faced to the hospital A&E; me in stirrups while a team of doctors point between my legs and laugh; me, in the Guinness Book of Records as The Woman Who Had a Tampon Inside Her Her Entire Life.

Then I take a few deep breaths and remind myself that my vagina is basically a big muscle, and sometimes muscles just… contract. Sooner or later I relax, and then the tampon comes out.

6. Always take more than you need

6) giphy-32

My best friend is incredibly smooth with her period. She doesn’t get period pains and can switch her tampon quicker than I can blink. I am not like her.

Often, I am clumsy, which means that when I’m fishing around for a new tampon in my bag, three others fall into the toilet itself. Sometimes the one I insert comes straight out with the applicator when I take my hand away. Occasionally, because I pack my bag early in the morning when I’m still essentially asleep, I find that instead of a tampon, I have brought a banana.

My point is: always take extra tampons, because you might be an idiot like me.

7. There’s no shame in a pad

giphy-14

After all is said and done, tampons aren’t for everyone, and for a lot of people they don’t fit all situations. Often, at the beginning and ends of my period when my flow is light, I’m not lubricated enough (hiya) to use a tampon. Sometimes, you have bad cramps and your entire lower half feels inflamed and there is nothing you want to do less than introduce a tampon into the mix. Sometimes sanitary pads are simply a better option, so find some that you like and keep a stash around for when tampons don’t quite cut the mustard.

8. Don’t put them in sideways

You probably know this one already. And obviously I did! I mean, I never tried it! That would be stupid! Don’t listen to anyone who says that I did!

Ha ha ha!

Seriously though.

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

Despite using calendars and tracking apps, I’m not always absolutely sure when my menses is on the way. Sometimes it takes me by surprise. I’ll be out minding my own business and suddenly be aware of a… dampening.

You know, the curious, sticky sensation that makes you worry that not only has your period turned up by surprise, but it’s also making the sort of entrance that RuPaul might deem too flamboyant for Drag Race.

When that happens, here’s what’s going through my mind. And your mind. Probably.

1. Gosh, my bum feels sweaty! Maybe it’s these tights…

2. Or…

3. Oh no, oh no, oh no!

4. There must be PINTS of blood down there already. Enough to fill a milk bottle! Or a Coke bottle! How can I sneak out and deal with this?

5. Just going to check on the App store to see if there’s anything in teleportation.

6. They have an app that tells you, TO THE SECOND, when it’s going to stop raining, but not one that will magic me from my chair to the toilet. MODERN TECHNOLOGY IS POINTLESS.

7. When I get up, the force of the blood is going to lift me straight to the ceiling. Like I’m sitting on a bust fire hydrant. As if I’m starring in a remake of Do The Right Thing meets Carrie.

8. I’m wearing white pants. Why would I ever wear white pants? Why do I even own white pants?

9. I bet it’s all over my jeans.

10. I bet it’s over the chair.

11. How can I get period blood off a chair without anyone noticing? Will I have to break into the building at night with a tub of Vanish, and tights over my head?

12. I wonder if I can slide my hand under my bum and check how bad the damage is.

13. It’s got through! It’s happened! It’s… oh, it’s a bit of pink felt tip.

14. Maybe I could drop to my knees and silently roll across the floor, like an unseen ninja, and the force of my propelling body would stop the blood from gushing everywhere.

15. Or I’ll get stuck with my rear end in the air and give everyone a prolonged view of my blood-soaked crotch.

16. Can I slowly, slowly edge to the side of the room, and then scuttle out sideways like a crab? I think I can.

17. I don’t have any tampons on me. Or change for the machine. I could message someone when I’m there… but my phone has 8 per cent battery.

18. I guess I’ll just have to live in the toilet.

19. Right, up and clench, and clench. Channel the crab, the menstrual icon of the sea. You’re on a mission to the other side of the seabed, defending your pearls…. ah, no, that might be oysters.

20. This must be good for my bum, all the clenching. Maybe I’ll patent this technique as an exercise movement. I could be Instagram famous! The Period Power Workout!

21. Phew. Safe in the toilet. Now to face the mess, clean up, and… oh.

Just a sweaty bum after all, then.

Kermit the Frog screaming gif

@NotRollergirl

Image: Kate Forster

Confidence. Everyone wants a little more, but there’s no magic way to acquire it. Most of us lack it, at one time or other. Sometimes it feels like everyone around us is oozing it, while we got forgotten at the end of the confidence queue.

But believe it or not, even celebs struggle with their self-esteem. From making ourselves heard to loving the skin we’re in, here are some of our favourite quotes to give us a little boost…

“Don’t be afraid to correct someone if they’re wrong. I think girls tend to be more polite. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you shouldn’t be afraid to correct someone if they’re wrong.”

When it comes to speaking up, Ellie Kemper wants us all to be a bit more Kimmy Schmidt.

“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”

Meanwhile Coco Chanel never lost any sleep over the haters.

“Don’t be afraid to have your own opinion. Don’t take no for an answer. Fight. Because people try to bring you down, and people try to get in the way of your dreams. But if you set your mind to something, you can accomplish that – and then some.”

Can you come round and recite this to us every morning please, Sarah Hyland?

“Never dull your shine for somebody else.”

Tyra Banks is rooting for us all.

“I think self-doubt is healthy. It pushes you, and humbles you… Sometimes I meet people who are too confident. I’m like, “I don’t even like being around you. You’re boring. Get a neurosis, and then we’ll talk.”

Anna Kendrick there, with a reminder that sometimes a little insecurity is better than a big ol’ head.

“I’m not going to apologise for who I am and I’m actually going to love the skin that I’m in.”

When it comes to self-love, Amy Schumer is sorrynotsorry.

“There’s always something you’re allowed to be thankful for, and if you remember that then the bad things become a lot smaller. I would say that that is probably the best way to feel confident about yourself – be grateful and happy for your lot.”

Fearne Cotton is so good at being happy, she literally wrote the book on it.

“When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad sh*t about me I turn around and say, ‘Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.’ Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.”

Sometimes it’s hard to know where Amy Poehler ends and Leslie Knope begins. But either way, they’re awesome.

“Love who you are, embrace who you are. Love yourself. When you love yourself, people can kind of pick up on that: they can see confidence, they can see self-esteem, and naturally, people gravitate towards you.”

They don’t call Lilly Singh ‘Superwoman’ for nothing, right.

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

But Oprah, do you mean Khaleesi or Elizabeth II?

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

From queens to the badass Princess of Alderaan, who better to teach us about confidence than the late, great Carrie Fisher?

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Pads are great. They’re comfy and easy to use and they even make great post-it notes if you’re desperate. But sometimes they slip to the back, or try and make a great escape down the side of your knickers. There have been a few instances when they’ve decide to go completely AWOL (like when Mexican singer Patricia Navidad was performing on a Mexican TV morning show and her pad exited her pants stage left).

Which begs the question: will your tampon ever get all commitment-phobic on you and decide to run off without so much as a ‘thanks for having me’..?

WELL, WILL IT?

Nope! The good news is tampons love commitment. If anything, they’re a bit needy.

Those babies won’t budge until they’re good and ready, unless you’re willing to wrestle them out of there.

So they’ll never leave me?

Your tampon is held in place by the walls of your vagina, so if you’ve inserted it correctly (i.e. pushed it all the way up) you can rest easy knowing it will never slip out as a surprise. If it ever feels too heavy or as though it might slip out, that probably means it’s time to change it for a fresh one.

However, if you’re on the loo doing a strenuous number two, you might notice that your tampon wiggles down a bit, or in some cases, joins the party that’s going on in the bowl. While it can be a bit of a shock, this is completely normal, so don’t panic.

If you’re not normally a flusher, we recommend making an exception in this case.

Ew. Is that all?

That’s all. So get up on stage and strut your stuff. Your period should never stop you from being your kickass self.

Image: Clueless

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

FOMO is hard.

It’s one of those things that your parents won’t always get – especially when it comes to things like piercings, parties and that questionable fashion trend that sweeps through your school overnight – but it’s absolutely a valid feeling. I am totally with you.

What makes an intense case of FOMO even worse though, is when it’s related to something that you’re not even entirely sure about.

Hellooooo, periods.

Or should I say: where the hell are you, period? When you’re sat there twiddling your thumbs waiting for your first period and it feels like all of your friends are well on their way to becoming pros in the menstrual cycle business, you can get a bit… impatient.

Ok, so there’s no definitive formula to knowing when you’ll start your period. The truth is, being a bit on the early side or a tad late to the party is no big deal. Like, at all. We promise.

Admittedly though, I found that being the last of my mates to start mine came with a few specific side effects…

Recognise any of these?

You convince yourself that every bad mood is PMS

PMS is one of those things that gets thrown around in conversation quite a lot. A bit too much if you ask me. But it happens. I actually think I had a better understanding of what PMS was before I fully got the whole bleeding-from-your-vagina thing.

So when it got to the point when my closest girl friends had started their journey down the period path and started justifying every mood swing as PMS, I, of course, decided to follow suit. Because hey, sometimes you just want to be able to relate to your mate’s spontaneous outburst of Hulk-like fury over dropping their last square of Dairy Milk.

You embrace the whole ‘watch and learn’ thing

There are positives to being last, you guys. Honest! The biggest one is that you get to witness IRL the things your friends are experiencing and well, learn from them.

Let’s face it, there are lots of things that we’d rather chat to our carefully-selected friends about instead of an actual grown-up human. And as helpful and well intentioned I’m sure the older women in your life are, sometimes you just want to be able to ask whether or not your BFF managed to get her tampon in on the first try – without fear of an awkward conversation and attempted demonstration from Aunty Alison.

You worry you won’t sync with your mates

This is at the core of that severe case of FOMO we were just talking about earlier.

For right or wrong, my biggest and most irrational worry was that at our next sleepover all of my friends’ periods would have suddenly synced and then someone would make a new group chat without me where they’d all talk about top secret period stuff. Crazy, I know.

Don’t worry, the secret group chat never happened. It’s pretty much impossible for periods (or lack of) to come between a group of girls. It’s one of the things that really unites women, actually.

Turns out none of our cycles ever synced, but we still enjoyed adding period woes to our regular lunchtime moaning session.

You end up being a bit over-prepared

You know that old saying about not tempting fate? Well I was pretty much willing Mother Nature to come at me. I thought that if I carried a few tampons and pads around with me, my body would catch on and decide to play along.

It didn’t.

But on the plus side my friends were always super grateful when they were ever caught off-guard and I had supplies at the ready.

You get caught practicing your cramp face

Ok this one might just be me. But in an attempt to get out of cross-country in the torrential rain, I thought I’d pretend to be on my period. A period that I hadn’t started yet. And in preparation, I thought I’d better practice and get this cramp thing down.

So I spent a few minutes of my lunch testing various versions of my ‘cramp face’. Obviously, someone walked into the loos mid-rehearsal, which was mega awkward.

BUT when I explained that I was having really bad period cramps she shrugged and proceeded to make her way over to a cubicle. ‘Score!’ I thought, ‘I must pursue a career in acting straight away!’ 

Unfortunately my performance wasn’t quite convincing enough to get me out of a lengthy jog in the rain. But still, at least that’s one case of FOMO I didn’t have to worry about.

@JazKopotsha

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: New Girl

Growing up in front of an audience throws up a lot of challenges. One of the biggest is feeling the pressure to share only the best, most photo-worthy moments and to live the perfect life to match. Great grades, flawless make-up, a beautifully curated Instagram – it’s easy to feel the heavy weight of expectation when it seems like all eyes are on you.

The pressure ramps up further when there’s an endless stream of perfection out there to compare yourself to, whether it’s the girl who goes to the gym five times a week or the food blogger who cooks meals that look way too beautiful to eat. All this makes it pretty difficult to deal with the reality that we can’t be absolutely amazing at everything in life.

But, I’m here with good news! Being bad at stuff is actually kind of…great. And I’m going to prove it with yoga. Well, a story about yoga anyway.

Earlier this year, I decided that I was going to start doing yoga every weekday morning; my imagination buzzing with images of me upside down, contorted in impossible looking angles, probably wearing some kind of amazing leopard print yoga gear that would show off my enviably defined abs. But then I did my first session and those visions were quickly melted away by the reality that my spine seems to be made out of solid steel.

Still, I’d made a promise to myself, so I carried on each day and here I am two months later with my legs over my shoulders. Oh wait, no, I can barely touch my toes. But the thing is, I don’t care even the slightest bit. I don’t care because I committed to doing something for myself and I stuck to it. No pressure, no Instagram posts, no comparisons, just me and my mat for half an hour every day.

Each morning, I watch as the woman on my app swoops into position. She bends from the hip, gracefully and effortlessly folding in half like origami. Meanwhile, I resemble a handful of broken twigs; all odd angles and jutting limbs. While she rests her head by her ankles, my arms dangle in the general direction of my toes.

I creak into half moon pose, ease into something that looks a bit like downward-facing dog and let out involuntary squeaks as I try and hold the plank. I am definitively un-graceful and what I do can certainly not be described as a ‘flow’ but I’m there doing it and I feel transformed afterwards: clear headed and ready for the day.

Every now and then I’ll notice a little improvement; I get an inch further into a stretch, or I hold a pose for longer without wobbling. It’s encouraging and there’s no doubt that it feels like a huge reward for my consistency but make no mistake, I’m still really bad at yoga.

I’ve been bad at plenty of stuff before – gymnastics, running, shot put – and it’s always made me want to quit. “What’s the point in carrying on if I’m not immediately brilliant? Gold medals or nothing, mate”, I’d think. But this time it’s different because I’ve taken perfection out of the equation. I’ve relieved myself of that pressure and given myself the headspace to just do something with absolutely zero expectations – and I think you should do it too.

It doesn’t matter if your portrait of Adele looks more like Tom Cruise or if your signature dish is slightly-too-hard pasta in a questionable sauce. It doesn’t matter if you knit wonky scarves or belly flop into the pool. All that matters is that you love it and you’re doing it.

And whether you decide to share it or not is completely up to you. Not everything you do needs to be for public consumption. It’s totally fine to sew skirts with wonky hems or paint blurry landscapes without ever showing a single soul. Give yourself permission to tuck yourself away and spend a few hours doing your thing without the pressure of wondering how many likes you might get or what other people might think.

On the flipside, never – and I mean never – be afraid to share the fruits of your labour if that’s what you want to do. Be proud of the fact that you’re doing something for no other reason than you love doing it. In my experience, when I’ve talked about my absent yoga skills, I’ve received nothing but words of encouragement from people who understand that it’s about the practice, the dedication to myself and ultimately, the enjoyment.

So grab your paints, lace up your trainers or hit the mat because life’s not about perfection, it’s about having fun.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Sisters

It is a little-known fact that along with periods, boobs, body hair and mood swings, an important part of puberty is thinking “I might get a fringe.”

One day you’ll be fine with your hairstyle; it’s healthy, it looks ok, it behaves when you straighten it OR curl it (you lucky thing, you) – but then… suddenly… BAM. “I MIGHT GET A FRINGE.”

And that’s great! Change is good! Fringes are nice! But with a fringe comes great responsibility. Some people get hamsters to learn about being a responsible human being; other people get a fringe. And I, personally, would argue that looking after a fringe is way more complicated and stressful and educational than looking after a hamster.

The difference between looking after a hamster and looking after a fringe is that you can’t grow out a hamster, more’s the pity. You can, however, grow out a fringe.

Said to the hairdresser that you loved it but really wanted to punch the mirror in the face? No problem. Can’t deal with it growing so fast and blinding you? No problem. Spend your evenings scraping it back with an old alice band you found in the back of your wardrobe so you can slather your forehead with various creams and gels to kill all the spots your greasy fringe has given you as a present? No problem. Grow it out! It’s like your fringe never existed. Easy. Right?

I had a fringe once.  Multiple times, actually. Sadly, there is currently no cure for the condition of forgetting how much you hated your fringe and getting one cut in again and again and again.

When I finally hit the growing-out stage of my first fringe saga, at 13 years old, I had to experience the trauma of trying out different ways to tame it as I killed it off. I scraped it back, half-heartedly turned it into a side fringe (with lots of hairspray), and even tried having a middle parting to turn my fringe into curtains. Middle partings were super uncool in those days, but my choices were limited.

I stuck to the side fringe, but some bits were flyaway and awkward, and one evening I finally snapped. I grabbed the nail scissors from my mum’s wardrobe and took a deep breath.

Snip… snip… *stare*… snip… snipsnipsnip. There! Gone. That’s better. I fluffed my hair about until the slight bald patch I’d now created had been covered. It was only a small round bit in the middle of my hairline in the middle of my forehead. No problem!

Except. You know when you grow grass? Or cress, in primary school? You plant the little seeds and then the grass grows slowly and is fluffy and quite cute? Well, can you now imagine that in the middle of your head, please? Yes, smack bang in the middle. A 10p’s worth of sticky-up, fresh, fluffy grass.

THAT WAS MY HEAD.

BECAUSE, LITTLE LOUISE, HAIR GROWS BACK. YOU FOOL.

It was a nightmare. I slowly began my transformation into one of those troll dolls from the 90s, and there was nothing I could do about it. Because, as I preached just a few paragraphs ago, you’ve just gotta grow it out.

At first it wasn’t too bad. I could shift my hair about and cover it up, just as I did with the bald patch in the first place.

“Louise, you’ve moved your parting right over.”

“Yes. Yes I have. I now have a severe side parting.”

“It’s a bit extreme, most of your hair is now over your fa-“

“GOD, MUM, JUST LET ME LIVE.”

When that was no longer of any use, when the hair-grass started growing further and further upwards with horrendous pride and confidence, I had to take drastic measures.

I pulled. And pulled. And yanked on my little troll fringe as hard as I could, and slapped it backwards in place with a clip. Not a subtle hairgrip, but a MASSIVE PROPER CLIP. It may as well have had a sign saying, “LOOK AT ME, THE INFAMOUS TROLL FRINGE,” complete with a musical fanfare.

I wish there was a good ending to this story. I wish I found a secret trick or a silver lining to cutting a chunk of your hair out. Alas, no. All I have is a simple lesson. Ahem: DON’T CUT YOUR OWN FRINGE. EVER. IN EVER OF ALL EVERS EVER.

The troll fringe grew out, of course. I worked that fanfare clip with all the dignity I had left. Eventually the clip worked its way back along my head and the troll fringe evolved into a troll quiff.

So yes, sometimes in life you do silly things, and sometimes you are full of regret… but all of those times come with lessons and (hair) growth. And that’s never, ever a bad thing.

@louisejonesetc

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Summer is great for a lot of things: spending time outdoors, hanging out with your mates, unsheathing your pasty arms and legs from their winter woollies and getting some vitamin D… the list goes on.

You know what it’s not good for, though? Being a goth. Or in my case at least, being a rubbish goth.

At my school, come year nine, two main groups emerged: the chavs and the alts, and you had to pledge your allegiance to one or the other. You were allowed to sit on the edge with a gentle nod towards your chosen clan – an Adidas satchel or a bit of extra eyeliner, for example – but choose you must.

I’ve always been an angsty person – even as a child I’d get myself worked up about the meaning of life – so the alts were my obvious choice. And boy did I commit to it, bypassing the entry-level studded belts and skater shoes and launching headfirst into raven-black hair and boned corsets. In my mind I was a beautiful angel of darkness, with an ethereal aesthetic that matched my troubled soul.

The reality, though, was rather different. Caking white foundation over my already-bad skin just made it look worse, and my Potter-esque glasses only magnified the fact that I didn’t have a clue when it came to blending eyeshadow. I did a rubbish job dying my hair, my braces rubbed all my blood-red lipstick off and I could never get my blacks to match.

Plus, I lived in the middle of nowhere, so I couldn’t just pop to the shops for the stuff I needed to actually make the look work – visiting my nearest town involved sitting on a bus for more than an hour, which is not something I recommend when all the other passengers are aging farmers and elderly conservatives and you’re wearing a black wedding dress.

But I stuck with it, because even though I was doing a pretty bad job of it I felt that rocking a goth aesthetic was part of my identity. The music, the people and the mindset of the alt-goth scene spoke to me and made me feel like I was part of something meaningful and different – that I was meaningful and different.

So I was prepared to deal with the time-consuming faff of the hair and makeup, and I’d gotten used to the horrified stares from people in the village and the stupid insults from kids in school. It was the payoff for finding my identity and ‘my people’.

What eventually broke me, though, was summer.

No amount of factor 50 suncream could keep the freckles and weird tan lines at bay. No amount of powder would keep the white foundation on my shiny face and no amount of deodorant would stop me sweating profusely onto my thick velvet dresses. Any time I succumbed to the heat and wore a light dress or a pair of shorts the sudden change in aesthetic was so jarring everyone would make a big deal out of it, which made me feel rubbish, like I was betraying my own identity.

This was back in the days before pastel and summer goth were a thing. Back before there were endless webpages of style inspo to look to and long before Instagram makeup tutorials came along. It was all or nothing, and I was uncomfortable, sweaty and defeated. If I couldn’t properly show off who I was on the inside on the outside, I thought, then I wouldn’t bother at all.

So instead I just wore what was comfortable. I still went for blacks and dark colours, but there was no more scratchy velvet or rib-busting corsets. I stopped trashing my hair every month with black dye and started using a wash-in red to give my natural mousey-ginger a bit of a kick. I swapped the painful Victorian-style heels for a pair of comfy biker boots and while I still trucked on the black eyeliner, the white foundation went in the bin.

For a while I felt like I was compromising; like I was doing a bad job of ‘being me’, but gradually it dawned on me that, actually, I felt better in my own skin. I spent less time in front of a mirror fretting about my makeup. I moved around more freely and worried less about the vibe of my outfits.

I still listened to the same music and hung out with the same people – people who liked me for me, and not what I looked like. People who probably liked me even better when I stopped constantly tripping over my long skirts and being preoccupied with staying pale. I had, without even realising it, developed my own style and was more ‘me’ than I’d ever been.

So that summer was good for a lot of things, and as it turned out in the end, being a rubbish goth was one of them.

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Image: Hailey Hamilton

At 5ft 10, I am the same height as Taylor Swift. I like this fact because it’s surely some sort of sign that my dream of duetting All Too Well with her live on stage is going to come true. It also makes me feel a bit better about being ‘the tall girl’ in my friendship group.

Taylor’s not the only talented, successful, fierce as hell long-limbed lioness either. Tennis champion Serena Williams is 6ft 1 and Game of Thrones Brienne of Tarth (IRL name, Gwendoline Christie) is a tremendous 6ft 3.

But the reality of being a tall girl at school or college is a different story to commanding Wembley stage, Wimbledon centre court or the battlefields of Westeros.

I felt clumsy and clunky walking through the corridors, like a discombobulated giraffe wobbling down the catwalk behind a squad of cute, nimble meerkats. It was even worse with my friendship group at home, I swear none of them grew over 5ft 5 while I continued to shoot up like Jack’s troublesome beanstalk.

If you’re in the Tall Club, you might recognise some of the same experiences that I had:

Shoe shopping is an absolute nightmare

Chances are, you have some big old feet at the end of those powerful, endless limbs. The problem is, ballet pumps and strappy sandals don’t look so dainty in size 8 or 9. Rather than asking ‘do I like these shoes?’ when out shopping, the real question is ‘do they look like Sideshow Bob’s clodhoppers?’. Oh well, androgynous styles are much cooler anyway.

All jeans are ‘ankle grazers’

I used to be too scared to wander into the Tall section with the older giraffe herd. Up until the point when I realised that this was absolutely ridiculous of me, I was relegated to regular leg lengths. Flared, skinny, bootcut, straight – none of them ever made it past my cold ankles. It’s quite lucky then, that Kate Moss is a total advocate for the ankle grazer (and she’s only 5ft 7!).

Shorter friends complain about being petite

My much shorter best friend once demanded we leave a party early because she felt too small. Did she not realise how often I feel like a telephone pole standing out like an eyesore in a field of pretty poppies, or a dog-bitten Barbie in a toy box of Polly Pockets? But at least I learnt that short girls have their problems too.

‘You’re the same height as a top model!’ is not a compliment

Oh, really? Does Gigi Hadid also have this warm layer of puppy fat, relentlessly shiny forehead and man hands? Does Gigi feel the need to hunch over like Quasimodo when she’s around her friends just to fit in? I might be tall but I’m not blind. Anyway, I’d much rather be compared to a rocket scientist or a sports champion thank you very much.

Borrowing and sharing clothes is out of the question

Your friends swap clothes more times than Kanye and Kim swap saliva (eww, sorry!). But there’s no way that you’re going to fit into that cute floral jumpsuit that your BFF bought in the Topshop Petite section. It’s just the same old wardrobe for tall gals, while everyone else has the lolz and bantz of clothes swapping fun. Oh well, at least there won’t be any arguments about unexplained stains or rips.

Group photos are a painful experience

Usually, I use every trick in the tall girl’s book to try not to stick out like a sore thumb in photos: bending the knee, tilting the head, sitting down, wishing to be invisible. At least by pulling a silly pose, it can actually make you look like the most fun person in the photo.

Other tall girls make the best allies

Luckily, I ended up befriending two equally tall girls during my time at school. We borrowed each other’s clothes, walked around in a group without bending our knees or heads and shared tips on where to buy skirts that actually reached the knee. It was a blessing, and the first wide-stride step towards accepting my tall girl credentials.

Now in my twenties, I love being tall. I admit, I still have my off-days where I just want to blend it – but don’t we all? Even Taylor probably has body hang-ups but that’s not enough to stop her from being one of the biggest (and tallest) popstars on the planet.

It’s all about just owning it: having a snazzy sock collection to decorate ostentatious ankles with; not being scared to wear the highest of heels that will intimidate any badly-behaved guy; and strutting like a proud flamingo.

Those size 8 boots were made for walking, so do it with your head held high and everyone looking up at you.

@hlouiser89

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Image: Getty

CRAP.

I mean, obviously that’s great. So great. For her. Couldn’t be more chuffed, obviously, because we’re basically the same person. Sisters from another mister. Soul mates. But…

CRAP. This is a disaster. I’m basically never going to see her again.

I’m going to die alone. Alone, old and friendless, after a life of solo Harry Potter marathons with no one even to share a tub of Phish Food with when Sirius dies.

Still, it’s early days. Could all be over by Christmas. After all, she’s never been entirely sold on his eyebrows, and they’re only going to grow closer together as time goes by…

Jeez, what am I saying?! I’m a MONSTER! This. Is. Good. News. In fact, it’s such good news I am going to Whatsapp her right now and INSIST we go to the cinema together, the three of us, so I can get to know him. If you can’t break ‘em, join ‘em, that’s what I say….

Or dinner. Yes maybe dinner is safer. Then I don’t have to listen to them making out halfway through Wonderwoman while I sit there trying to mask the sound of lip-on-lip action with my own aggressive munching on single-portion popcorn crying my own quiet tears…Oh GAD.

Woooahh, hang on. Why am I so stressed? It’s 2017. There is an all-female superhero on our movie screens. I’m not going to let a man, or the absence of a man, stand in the way of my own happiness. I’m an unconquerable warrior. I am Diana, princess of…

I. Am. So. ALOOOOOOONE.

Wait, maybe Bex’s bae has friends! Man friends! He could set me up with one of them, and then we can double date, and all make out in the cinema together!

I mean, not in that way, obvs. Five rows apart at least.

Joint weddings – are they a thing?

I’m going to ask her to ask him, for real. Let’s get this ball rolling. What’s that quote grandma says, about doors closing and windows opening? Just goes to show you.

Might look a bit desperate though, asking out the blue like that. Should probably get to know him before treating him like some kind of man vending machine.

Mmm, man vending machine. Why has nobody invented one of those yet?

They’ve probs got them in Japan, tbf. Maybe I should move there.

Wait, what if he hates me?

What if I hate HIM?

This is the beginning of the end. It starts with plastering couple selfies over Insta, and it ends in me peering through a church window at their nuptials, having been cancelled for revealing my true feelings ten years previously.

Damn! She’s just whatsapped me, demanding to see my face in Starbucks asap. Is it because she can hear my thoughts? Oh. No. She wants some girl time. Some friend time. Some ‘me and her’ time.

I am an idiot. THIS ships’s for life – boy or no boy.

@clare_finney

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Image: Mean Girls

When you think about it, kissing is one of the weirdest things you can ever do.

It’s sort of gross, if you break it down. All sloppy tongues and wet lips and spit and teeth and hoping your breath doesn’t stink… or that’s what I tend to think about, anyway. Over the years I’ve kissed quite a few people, but my first kiss? The weirdest thing about the first time I ever kissed someone is how hard it is for me to remember it.

For so many years, having my first kiss was all I could think about. I’d sneak books from the library and read the paragraphs where couples would kiss over and over again. I’d watch TV, pretending I wasn’t looking through my fingers any time the snogging started. I’d daydream during my lessons, I’d practice on my arm (once even giving myself a love bite), and I would write in the notebooks I’ve kept since I was 12 about how much I wanted to kiss, a boy, on the lips.

But the main problem with me trying to kiss a boy was I didn’t really know any. I went to an all-girls school, so unless I was willing to grab a random one at the bus stop (and I was tempted), my kissing options at the time were pretty limited. When it eventually happened, I think I liked it.

I think I liked it… but I just don’t remember.

Some of the facts I do know: there was a boy. He was very tall and I really fancied him. We stood somewhere in the middle of a park, and I think we were chatting, and I think his arms were around mine. At some point he leaned down, I leaned up, and we kissed each other. It was late and dark, and all I could smell was wet grass and teenage boy (a funny mixture of sweat, chips and damp socks).

How to kiss for the first time (or not)

I always thought that when I finally kissed someone, everything would ‘just make sense’ and I’d feel like a proper adult. But it didn’t, and I didn’t. I stood there, thinking too much about nothing important.

If I wrote down my thoughts at the time, they’d go something like this:

1. Does he have two tongues?

2. He is tall, maybe he does have two tongues.

3. Or maybe he’s just spitting loads in my mouth?

4. Or maybe I’m spitting in his mouth!

5. Maybe I produce too much saliva and I’m a freak.

6. …or maybe he likes all my spit

7. Do I need to move my tongue more?

8. Maybe I should just try and spit into his mouth?

9. Ew, though.

And so on, until it was all over.

Community awkward kiss gif

When it finished, I said something mean or rude to a friend about him that I think I meant as a joke. He heard me. Of course he did. Later, my friend Mia’s mum picked us up from the side of the park, and in the darkness of the backseat of the car I whispered to Mia that I had kissed him that night. She whispered back to me that she had too.

I don’t think I felt jealous or weird about that, but I did feel annoyed at myself. I had told my friends I had kissed lots of people before – a total lie, obv – so I couldn’t tell Mia (or anyone) that was the first time I had kissed someone.

And that’s the story of my first kiss.

Here are facts I don’t know: I don’t remember how old I was. Yup, not at all, although I think it was somewhere around 14 to 16. I don’t remember if it was spring, summer, autumn, or winter. I don’t know if there was a party, or if people were drinking, or if I was drinking, or if we were just hanging about in a very dark park doing nothing but kiss and chat and kiss some more.

I don’t remember any of the build-up to the kiss; what time it happened, or how long it lasted, or if it was just one kiss, or if it was lots of them. I don’t remember what happened after I made my ‘joke’ and (maybe) insulted him, and I don’t remember if we ever spoke about it again afterwards, or if we ever even kissed again.

For something that I thought about every day for years, my first kiss has ended up being a pretty unremarkable life event. Over time, I realised it was the boring things like travelling around by myself or making the choice to go home early that have made me feel like a grown up, not kisses – even the kisses that have been really, really great. These days, a lot of my best friends are boys (well, men), and they’re nowhere near as mysterious as I once thought.

I’ve got no regrets about my first kiss, apart from wishing I wasn’t so anxious about it. I worried so much about it before it even happened, and now I remember that worry way more than I remember the kiss itself.

I might not remember the tiny details of the night I had my first kiss, but I do remember one thing: I thought I would remember it forever. The great thing about that not being true? Forever is a really long time, and you might forget things that happened long ago, but for every nice old memory is a new, great memory that comes to take its place.

@bridgetminamore

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Image: Hailey Hamilton