Growing up, I was always a teensy bit jealous of the way my male friends handled their disagreements. They’d have an argument, sometimes a shouting match, sometimes even a bit of a scrap, and then that would be that. They’d move on; friends again, as if nothing had happened.

Now I’m not saying I wanted to go around putting my friends in headlocks (well… maybe it seemed tempting sometimes) but the boys’ method looked so simple compared to the way I tried to handle things. Brought up to always be ‘nice’, and scared my friends might ditch me if we argued, I avoided telling people that I disagreed with them, or that the face they had pulled at my new (totally awesome by the way) school bag had upset me.

Instead, I’d sit there feeling cross and upset until eventually the feelings faded away. But, looking back, I was probably pretty sulky and snappy in the meantime. No fun for anyone. And lot of girls I’ve spoken to have told me they feel the same.   

Emma Gleadhill is a speaker and coach who helps young people to manage their relationships. She says it’s not surprising that girls can struggle with conflict, especially given how we’re often raised and what we deal with in society.  

“Everyone is different, of course, but research shows that parents are more likely to stop girls who are getting a bit rough with each other than boys. So girls grow up less practised at dealing with conflict. Also, if you look for female role models in the media who are assertive and powerful but also kind, there aren’t very many. The media often portrays strong women as nasty – like with Hilary Clinton in the US election. Girls feel like they’re walking a really fine line: trying to speak up about their feelings and get what they need, but not come across as aggressive.”  

Emma also says that fear of friends ditching you is also very normal among girls. “When they’re going through puberty, girls tend to seek out very close best friendships, and those friendships are so important to them that they don’t want to rock the boat. So tensions underneath the surface bubble away and what started off as an honest friendship can become quite a fake one, where both people are actually pretty unhappy.” 

As I’ve grown up, I’ve gradually become more comfortable with conflict. Now I see it as something healthy and empowering. I stand up for myself and what I believe in. I even tell my friends if they’ve upset me. And guess what? Nobody’s ditched me yet. In fact, my strongest friendships are with the people I feel I can be totally honest with.  

But getting to this stage has taken a fair bit of practice. And man, do I wish I’d started earlier. It would have saved me a whole lot of upset (not to mention all the hours I wasted secretly fuming). 

So, just in case you fancy getting a bit better at it, too, Emma has shared her top tips for dealing with conflict in a healthy way. Go on, give it a go. You deserve to be heard. 

1. Practise being assertive

The skills we use in healthy conflict, like quick thinking, responding thoughtfully and speaking up, can be built up with practice. It’s a bit like exercising a muscle. Set yourself little targets that will develop your skills and confidence. You can start really small, like putting your hand up in class to answer a question.

2. Learn from the best

Conflict doesn’t always have to involve difficult conversations or emotions. Some people debate with others just for fun. Find those people and watch how they go about things. It could be your relatives having a passionate discussion about the best way to make the Christmas gravy, or the members of your school debate team arguing about a hot topic in the news. Take note. 

3. Stand up for yourself in the moment

If someone says or does something you don’t like, try saying ‘Ouch!’ or ‘Ooh – can I have that in writing?!’ It’s a small comment, so it probably won’t cause a huge fight, but it immediately shows the other person that you didn’t like their behaviour. This is a great way to start setting boundaries with your friends without being too heavy about it.

4. Don’t let things brew

Unless you can genuinely forgive and forget the comment, it’s best to talk to the other person about it sooner rather than later. Take some time to process how you’re feeling but don’t leave things for weeks on end. The longer you bottle up your emotions, the more likely you are to lash out at the other person, and the worse they’ll feel when you reveal how long you’ve been upset for. 

5. Have a plan

If you’re nervous about the conversation, it can help to really think through what you want out of it and how you’re going to make your points. If you have a good relationship with a parent or somebody older, share your plan and ask for their thoughts or advice.

6. Choose the perfect place

Try to talk to the other person face-to-face and somewhere relatively private. There’s no risk of either of you losing face in front of your classmates, which means you should have a more honest conversation, and you’re more likely to find a solution together if you’re just concentrating on each other.  

7. Be flexible

Once you get into the conversation, you probably won’t be able to stick exactly to your plan, and that’s ok. Healthy conflict is as much about listening to the other person as it is about getting your own points across. They might have a good explanation for their behaviour (maybe their family is going through a tough time) but you won’t get to hear it if you’re ranting at them. Try to think of the conversation as an opportunity to work the problem out together. *Try*.   

8. Be real

If you’re confronting a friend who you want to stay on good terms with, tell them you value their friendship and that you want to sort things out so you can stay friends. But don’t be afraid to let them know the consequences if they don’t change their ways. You could say something like: “I need you to understand how I feel because the future for our friendship isn’t looking great if this sort of stuff keeps happening.”

9. Stick to the facts

Focus on things that the other person can’t argue with, like an example of what they did and how it made you feel: “When you said my hair looked stupid this morning it made me feel self-conscious.” Try to avoid insults (“You were such a cow this morning”) and generalisations (“You’re always making fun of me”), as they’ll only get the other person fired up. Plus, they’re easier to deny than actual facts.

10. Stop things escalating

If you feel like a situation is about to get out of hand, take five deep, slow breaths. This will help to slow your heart rate down, meaning you’re less likely to lash out. Next, try to look at the situation from a different angle. Is it really about you? What’s going on with the other person? If you’re too overwhelmed by your emotions to act calmly, make your excuses and get out of there.

11. Stick to your guns

The other person might try to brush off the thing that you’re upset about, but it’s important to keep making your point until you feel you’ve been heard. Try something like, “You might have meant it as a joke but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it made me feel upset.”

12. Look to the future

Always try to end conflict with a plan for how you’ll move forward together, listening to each other’s needs and being good friends to each other in the future. Congratulations – you’re now a confrontation pro. 

@LucindaEverett

Emma Gleadhill runs workshops in schools helping young people to handle their relationships.

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Cartwheels, leotards, THE SPLITS – gymnastics might sound like the most terrifying activity you could ever attempt on your period, but for those of us who love it and don’t want our bodies to hold us back (like, evereverever) you can totally still participate in gym. Yep, even if you’re bleeding.

How, you shriek? What if my pad looks massive and slides out of place, how the heck do I even attach it because I can’t use wings, or what if my tampon string hangs out in the middle of a backbend? The period terror is real.

Well don’t fret, back-flipping dreamers. One of team betty actually used to be a fancy pants gymnast and has a few helpful tips for you…

Double up

If you’re a bit of a pro, you’re probably used to whipping off all your underwear before you slip into your leotard – after all, knickers on show underneath your super glitzy competition outfit is not the one. But if you’re on your period, an extra layer between your vagina and your costume could be the difference between a flawless floor routine and one that’s accessorised with blood. Just try high-cut knickers if you’re worried about flashing and go for a pair that’s the same colour as your leotard.

Prep your pants

If you think you might-maybe-possibly-a-tiny-bit be about to come on your period, prep those knickers! Use those high-cut undies to the max and make sure you stick in a panty liner – even if the chances of you coming on are literally 1%. You can’t be too careful, especially if your feet are going behind your head at any point.

Try tampons

Never tried using tampons before? Well, this might be the perfect time to give them a go. Ask your mum to pick some up from the supermarket or pop to the shops after school then block out some bathroom time to perfect your technique. Chances are you probably won’t nail it the first time, the second, probably even the third time, but if you stay super relaxed you might be able to slide it in just fine. All you need to think about come competition time is tucking in your string and smiling!

You do you

No matter how much you want to compete or take part in your fave weekend club, if you’re not feeling up to it just stay at home! There’s absolutely no shame in looking after yourself and giving your body what it needs to get through your time of the month, whether you’re suffering from cramps, headaches or you’re just tired out. Period.

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This week we’ve been obsessing over 19 year old model and humanitarian, Halima Aden. She made history as the first woman in a hijab to grace the cover of Allure magazine and she’s totally shaking up the stereotype of ‘American beauty’.

The first-generation Somali-American has been signed by IMG Models (the same agency as Gigi and Bella Hadid), has walked the runway for Kanye West and is inspiring a whole new generation of models with every new move/shoot/selfie she takes.

Here’s everything you NTK about the trailblazer…

Who is Halima?

Halima and her family fled to America during the Somalian Civil War when she was just six years old. It wasn’t until she began school in Minnesota that Halima started to feel she was different.

“When I first started wearing the hijab, I felt happy. It felt right and represented who I was. But when I started middle school, I remember that joy and satisfaction turning to resentment. I no longer was proud of who I was in the hijab because other students would frequently tease me.” she tells Teen Vogue.

In honor of #tbt 😆

A post shared by Halima Aden (@kinglimaa) on

Desperate not to let the bullies get her down, Halima decided to enter the Miss Minnesota pageant in November 2016. Making it to the top 15, she was the first person in the history of the pageant to wear a hijab and a burkini on stage.

Halima’s life changed overnight forever. IMG models contacted and later signed her to their agency. Since then she has rocketed and is fast becoming the model everyone wants to work with. You go girl!

Say hello to #HalimaAden—the first hijab-wearing model to a) sign to IMG, b) walk in a Yeezy Season fashion show, c) compete in Miss Minnesota USA, and d) cover #allure. Get to know the 19-year-old Somali American model, who’s breaking down every boundary in the fashion industry. “Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way,” she says. “I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.” Tap the link in bio for our full interview. 📸: @solvesundsbostudio 👗: @beatbolliger 💇: @philippetholimet 💄: @thevalgarland 💅: @mariannewman

A post shared by Allure Magazine (@allure) on

Here’s why we love her…

This girl is #goals. She’s making fashion history by demanding her culture and other cultural minorities are represented within the industry.

#yeezy #nyfw2017 ✊🏿✊✊🏻

A post shared by Halima Aden (@kinglimaa) on

After strutting her stuff in the hottest shows at Fashion Week she went on to do a campaign with American Eagle, stealing our hearts as she rocked the brands first ever hijab and her braces. Yeah, you heard right. No more awkward mouth-closed smiles in your group photos, it’s time we followed Halima’s glowing example and allowed our braces to be beautiful.

@kinglimaa is an inspiration in the new American jean. #ICAN #MeetTheNewCast

A post shared by American Eagle (@americaneagle) on

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any cooler she is now one of the new faces of Rihanna’s first beauty line  “Fenty Beauty”, which celebrates women of all colours and comes out Friday 8th September. How awesome?!

If being a kickass fashionista wasn’t enough, our girl has a heart of gold. Halima wants to use her gift to change the way people think about her culture. After her modelling career, this go-get-em girl wants to become a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

Love this so much!!! ❤️ representation matters .. always ✨

A post shared by Halima Aden (@kinglimaa) on

“Having representation in the fashion industry of all backgrounds gives little girls and boys, who don’t see people that look like them represented, hope” she told Teen Vogue.

We can’t wait to see how far she goes, follow her Instagram here.

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It’s August 2004 and tears are threatening to spill over my bottom eyelashes as I stare back at my reflection in the hairdresser’s mirror. There are chunks of black hair all over me and I daren’t look at what’s on the floor. My palms are clammy and I feel weak as the hairdresser gives my hair a final brush then unhooks me from my gown. I daren’t meet my twin sister’s eyes. Her long, glossy black mane (so like Princess Jasmine’s) now seems like a cruel reminder of my former glory.

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Jacqueline Wilson’s Double Act where twin Ruby cuts off her hair to look poles apart from Garnet. But, in my life, there was no major twin fight, no break up with a summer love or even a friendship break up. Instead, I had spent most of the summer fantasising about sashaying through the school gates looking a million times more grown up. The hot trends – yeti boots, circle belts and Baby G watches – were not going to cut it this term. I needed real change.

Then…suddenly…BAM. Flicking through a copy of Sugar magazine, I noticed a model with a black bob and pink highlights. This would be it. MY MOMENT. This would be my America’s (or let’s face it, Camden’s) Next Top Model makeover. After all, I had gone on holiday with my best mate’s family and had recently turned the big ONE-THREE so surely my new bob would prove I was officially a grown up.

But now, post-chop, school’s first day was inching closer while I was itching for my hair to miraculously grow back. I promised the Hair Gods that I would nevereverever touch my mane again and stop using that TGI hairspray every morning if only a few inches could grow back. I spent each morning checking with my pound shop ruler, dreading entering the school gates, imaging everyone’s pointed stares. I was known for the long, shiny black hair down to my back. As an identical twin with long black hair too, it was not just my marker, but ours.

During those last few weeks of summer, it felt like I had to learn who I was again. Mirrors became THE ENEMY as I no longer recognised the girl in front of me. I had massive tantrums as I realised that none of my clothes seemed to match my awkward bob, each time swearing at the evil page of Sugar magazine. But the girl with the bob kept winking back.

Looking back though, my bob forced me to confront my fears now that I was no longer hiding underneath a mop of black hair. I inherited a newfound confidence – after all, surely I could face nothing worse as a just-turned teen. As I realised I was visible in public, I threw myself into after-school activities from gym classes to being part of the Greek chorus in the school play. I no longer cared if my bum jiggled too much in front of the dance class mirrors or if I had to sing in public. I even became a regular member of the Pink Police for the school’s charity fundraising team, ‘arresting’ anyone who wasn’t wearing pink on Pink Day and asking the girls in higher forms to cough up some pounds and pennies – all the things that the former me would have been too scared to try.

This new-found confidence led me to talk to people I normally wouldn’t have bothered with. At dance class, I met Imogen, who would later become my best friend. I met a few other pals from theatre club too who, twelve years later, are still part of my solid friendship group.

Having my hair chopped off helped me mature into the bolshy teenager and adult who was able to cope with any type of change. I learnt to be brave about fashion choices and meeting new people but it also allowed me to think openly about new experiences – even if they initially scared me. I even ended up living in Miami for five months!

When I finally hit the growing-out stage of my awkward bob, I didn’t use it as an excuse to retreat back into the background. While I never did take a trip back to the same hairdresser for another chop, I was still dancing at gym class and fundraising for charity.

And whenever adult me is scared of something, I try to think about how it felt that day in the hairdresser’s chair – and how it ended up being the making of me. I guess I have my awkward bob to thank.

@layla_haidrani

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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?

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If you have moles you’ve probably heard that changes to them can mean that there’s an underlying issue, but what exactly are you looking for when you check them yourself, and when do you need to seek professional help?

We asked Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, for her advice so you can be armed with the best info on how to keep your moles – and skin – safe.

Should I get my moles checked if they’ve always been there and haven’t changed shape or colour?

“It’s still worth checking them regularly just in case. The better you know your moles, the more likely you are to notice if there’s a change in the future.”

How often do I need to get my moles checked?

“Most dermatologists recommend you self-exam your skin on a monthly basis. The purpose of this is to detect unusual growths or changes early. The ideal time is probably after a bath or shower and should be carried out in a well-lit room with the aid of a full-length mirror.

“It is important to look closely at the entire body, including the scalp, buttocks and genitalia, palms and soles including the spaces between the fingers and toes. It may be helpful to seek assistance from a trusted individual to examine the hard-to-see areas.”

What could changes to my moles mean?

“Changes to a mole could mean skin cancer, so it’s always best to get it checked, rather than ignore it.”

What changes to my moles should I be looking out for?

“The acronym ABCDE can be extremely helpful in evaluating moles. If a mole shows any of these features, you should go and see your doctor:

Asymmetry: one half of the mole is different to the other

Border: irregular, scalloped or poorly defined edge

Colour: uneven colour or variable colours within a mole

Diameter: the mole is bigger than 6mm in size

Evolving: the mole is changing in its size, shape or colour

“Other signs to look out for include any new moles, a mole that looks significantly different to the others (known as the ‘ugly duckling’ sign), or any skin lesion that bleeds or fails to heal.

“The most important thing is to seek medical advice early. Any concerns should prompt a visit to a dermatologist, who will perform a full skin examination, and may go on to either remove a mole or take a sample or biopsy of any unusual growths or patches on the skin.”

Should I be using extra special sunscreen if I have moles?

“If you have very fair skin I would always recommend you use at least SPF30 or higher alongside other precautions, such as protective clothing and seeking shade between 11am-3pm, when the sun is strongest.

“Don’t forget to apply plenty of sunscreen at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. You’ll need to reapply at least every two hours or after swimming/sweating. Make sure you cover every area, as eyelids, feet, backs of legs, ears and lips can sometimes be forgotten!”

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Image: Katie Edmunds

Fat-shaming has long been addressed by us mere mortals and famous types alike, and calling someone ‘too fat’ has been socially unacceptable for as long as you can remember, right? Yet, somehow, commenting on people being ‘too skinny’ isn’t deemed nearly as offensive.

Well, guess what: it’s the same thing. Body-shaming for any reason can be hurtful and derogatory, as these nine ladies who have spoken out on skinny-shaming know…

“Calling someone fat is seen as an insult, but calling someone out to be too skinny… is apparently acceptable? I think commenting on anybody’s weight is unacceptable. Who are you to judge someone by the size of them?”

Zoella dedicates an entire blog post “Why Are You So Skinny?” to the issue of skinny-shaming, which she has faced throughout her life.

“Now… everyone go look in the mirror at their beautiful body, and love that s**t #thickgirlswinning #skinnygirlswinning #weallwinning.”

After comedian Julie Klausner sent mean tweets about Zendaya’s slight frame, the actress schooled her in the art of accepting everyone, no matter what size they are.

“I’m constantly criticised for being too skinny. I’m trying to gain weight but my body won’t let it happen. What people don’t understand is that calling someone too skinny is the same as calling someone too fat, it’s not a nice feeling.”

Kendall Jenner speaks out about her own experiences of skinny-shaming, which – as she points out – can be just as hurtful as fat-shaming.

“This whole thing happened and I’m constantly having to justify myself. I’m very healthy and I always have been. On one hand, it’s upsetting. On the other hand, it’s just boring. Why do women always get pointed at for their bodies?”

Lily James responds to criticism about her small – corseted – waist in Cinderella.

“They said that I was too skinny and my boobs were too small… After they asked me here, in Israel, if I have eating disorders and why am I so skinny – they said my head was too big and my body was like a broomstick – I can take anything. It’s just empty talk.”

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot won’t let the skinny-shaming words get to her.

“I’ve seen articles or comments that have addressed my weight, or ‘caving to pressure to be thin.’ Keeping weight on is a struggle for me – especially when I’m under stress, and especially as I’ve gotten older. That’s the way my genes have decided to go, and things will change as time goes on, as does everything.”

Emma Stone knows that skinny isn’t always a choice, so people should think before they comment on it.

“I need to remember the date today!! Never would I have ever thought I would be in the media for being “too skinny”. What on earth?!?! First I’m too fat and now I’m too skinny. I love this game!!”

Khloe Kardashian responds to the media’s reports on her weight loss with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

“We live in a day and age where people make it IMPOSSIBLE for women, men, anyone to embrace themselves exactly how they are. Diversity is sexy! Loving yourself is sexy! You know what is NOT sexy? Misogyny, objectifying, labelling, comparing and body shaming!”

Ariana Grande hits back at someone who called her a “stick” on Instagram.

“Everyone says they want the ‘perfect body’ and have so many body goals, but when a girl is just a bit too skinny in your eyes, she gets judged. It isn’t your fault that you think like this. The media have told us that this size is too thin and this size is too big. That one roll of back fat is disgusting and not having a thigh gap (it’s OK for your thighs to touch) means you’re ugly. There is so, so, so, so much more to life than having the ‘perfect body’. Every young person needs to understand that.”

Cheryl – herself a victim of skinny-shaming – tells it like it is.

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Image: Katie Edmunds

When I was 13, I used to go to school with a giant carrier bag with all my books in it, and a teeny tiny handbag. We all did it, it was the ‘cool thing to do’, and the rest of the year group followed suit. I sh*t you not. Looking back, it’s totally ridiculous—just take a bigger bag! But it mattered, and the type of carrier bag mattered (Jane Norman or River Island, obvs—no Tesco riff raff)… until the following year, when we all got square black Warehouse bags.

While this is, of course, hilarious, there’s a lesson to be learned here: what’s popular is so fleeting, and often so laughable in hindsight (sometimes bordering on flat-out ridiculous) it questions the very essence of what it means to conform, and why we want to do it in the first place. In essence, it’s governed peer pressure and, more broadly speaking, social expectations.

Now you might be thinking “I take my Herschel rucksack to school because it’s awesome, and I like it, not because my friends do” and that may well be true, but there’s no doubting that we’re all affected by our surroundings (it’s got a technical term, socialisation—sort of like the whole nature/nurture thing)—and if it can affect which bag we take to school. How much else is it affecting, too? What about the way you talk (that ‘voice’ you do with your mates, or the inside jokes you have) or even the way that you treat other people?

I often take pride in the fact I was a ‘nice’ girl at school; that I had friends in different groups and generally got on with most people. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t see girls—and admittedly sometimes friends—doing things I didn’t like. I had a friend who constantly ripped into a girl in our year. At the time it was easy to think ‘she’s just joking, everyone takes the piss out of everyone, it’s not really bullying… is it?’ well, yes, it is. While I wouldn’t say I was ‘peer pressured’ into allowing such behaviour, in a way I was. I wouldn’t treat somebody like that, so why didn’t I think to mention it made me uncomfortable? When does not saying something become as bad as actively joining in?

We’ve all heard the ‘good samaritan’ story, but there’s a deeper significance here: peer pressure, or rather social conformity, affects us in ways we probably don’t even realise. No one wants to look like they’re being boring, or awkward, or making a fuss over nothing.

When we were younger, it was quite normal to call something rubbish or boring ‘gay’—I didn’t even consider the implications of that until I was much older, and feel utterly ashamed that it was said so whimsically. But everyone said it, and we didn’t actually mean anything homophobic by it, so it just sort of… happened. I didn’t even think about it.

And that’s the point, peer pressure and conformity isn’t just about being pressured into smoking, or having sex when you’re not ready to, or doing drugs, as your token PSHE lesson on ‘just saying no’ would lead you to believe. It’s important to think about what you’re doing and the reasons behind it—and stand up for how you truly feel and think is right.

If you’ve got butterflies in your stomach, or you feel awkward when a friend does something you don’t agree with, say something. It doesn’t have to be confrontational, it could be as simple as ‘I don’t really feel comfortable with that, so I’m not going to do it’, or it could be a case of simply walking away… or it could be that really, you shouldn’t be friends with them at all.

As I’ve gotten older, our group has become much smaller (the one that constantly ripped that girl in the playground? Shock, we don’t see her anymore. Turns out she’s not a very nice person) but it’s much tighter and we are all significantly happier for it.

While it doesn’t always have to go as far as not being friends with that person, it’s important to have the confidence to speak your mind, stand firm in your opinions and only do and say what you think is right, and be with people that even if they don’t always agree, respect your views.

It’s all about having confidence in yourself—and what’s cooler than being confident and comfortable in your own skin? Be the girl that doesn’t give a crap if they (or anyone else, for that matter) wants to take a teeny tiny handbag and a carrier bag to school… even if everyone’s taking Herschels.

@EllieCostigan

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: Mean Girls

In Partnership With Girlguiding

So you didn’t get V festival tickets, your mum wouldn’t let you trek to the Isle Of Wight for Bestival, and Glastonbury was a big fat no. (Tbf you can barely pack for a sleepover at your bestie’s without forgetting your phone charger and a spare pair of knickers.) But even if your parents are as strict as Harry Potter’s house mistress Professor McGonagall, there is one festival we’re almost sure they’d let you go to.

Well, what is this magical festival?

Give a big fat Gryffindor wave to Girlguiding’s annual event, Wellies and Wristbands! The only catch? You’ve got to be a member of Girlguiding to get a ticket – and you’re going to want to sign up if you’re not a Girl Guide already as this camping extravaganza has serious cool factor. Not only is there tons of live music so you can pretend you’re dancing at V festival anyways, but there’s a pamper zone to get your beauty fix, hot tubs to chill with your mates in, cinema screenings, an amazing inflatable obstacle course, abseiling and even zip-lining! So, a) you won’t have to worry about getting bored and b) your mum and dad will get serious value for money without having to worry about mosh pits.

Amazing! Tell me more…

The weekend of fun takes place at two locos; Foxlease in the New Forest and Waddow Hall in Lancashire, so it shouldn’t even be a total mission if you beg your ‘rents to drive you there regardless of where you live. You’ll hit the festival with your Girlguiding group and will be looked after by your Girlguiding leader, so you’re covered when it comes to getting that all-important helping hand in putting up your tent. Phew. Plus, it lasts from Friday night ’til Monday lunchtime which means maximum gal-pal time with your mates, not to mention the whole new group of friends you’ll make over the weekend.

How much will it cost?

The festival ticket costs £105 for the whole weekend. That includes all your food, campsite fees, activities, music, transport from a local train station and your wristbands. All you need to bring is your own wellies! If your ma and pa think it’s pricey, just tell them that a day at Go Ape, a ticket to a gig, the cinema, a manicure, and a shiny new hot tub cost a helluva lot more…

Happy camping!

For more information, please visit the Wellies and Wristbands homepage.

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: Girlguiding

The world can seem like a scary place at the very best of times, and when you’re someone who suffers from anxiety it’s amplified. Global warming, money problems, wondering if your friends who you have known for years are only pretending to like you. It’s tough. Feeling anxious or nervous about certain situations is perfectly normal, but when it starts to infringe on you leading a normal life it can become a problem.

I have always had an anxious disposition that has stuck with me from my primary school days even into my mid-twenties. From panic attacks about school projects to cancelling party plans because I was too nervous to go, anxiety has been a lurking presence in my life as far as I can remember. It caused me to miss out on fun things like nights out and sleepovers, and important things like job interviews I was too scared to attend. Imagined worst-case scenarios would play in my head before I went to sleep – car crashes, failing all my exams, being alone forever. It has been quite a time and continues to be something I have to deal with in some aspect every day.

The plus-side of this (yes, there is one) is that I’ve learned a lot from my own experiences with anxiety, from just living life and getting some golden professional advice. Here are a few tried-and-true tips and methods that have helped me in different ways.

So, what causes anxiety?

It’s sadly not as simple as one factor being the root cause for your anxious feelings. Causes can range from your upbringing or your genetic make up, to money problems and other related mental health issues like depression. A big change in your life like starting a new school or your parents splitting up can also trigger feelings of anxiety. If you have an anxiety disorder, you might feel feelings of fear about nothing in particular on a near-constant basis. There’s also a link between anxiety disorders and OCD – people often develop compulsive routines to cope with intrusive thoughts that can trigger them.

Take a breather

It might make you feel a bit silly at first but breathing exercises can be a life-saver when you start to feel panic setting in, especially if you’re in a public place. Regulating your breathing, and taking in deep breaths can help calm you down. To start off, inhale through your nose for four seconds, exhaling for four also out of your nose. It helps me to put my hand on my chest, feeling my lungs fill with air. There are a lot of different exercises to try if this one doesn’t quite work.

Go outside

Being in nature has a really calming effect. A 2015 study at Stanford University showed that a walk in nature near greenery or water can significantly reduce anxious thoughts. This phenomenon is called ‘soft fascination’, and being in nature can allow us to work through our worries while the trees and flowers provide gentle stimulation. Even a ten-minute stroll will go a long way.

Write a worry list

Designate 20 minutes of your day to sitting with paper and a pen, and write about every single worrying thought that comes into your head during that time – but only during that time. No worry is too small or insignificant during worry time. After the 20 minutes of scribbling, read through the list and rip it up. This helps me feel like I have gained some control over my own thoughts, and it can be really helpful.

Get creative

Whether you like to draw, write stories or make origami swans, doing something creative will help you concentrate on what you’re doing in the present. It’s also a good way to blow off steam and express your feelings of worry.

Talk to your younger self

A lot of the time when we feel anxious we end up getting angry and frustrated with ourselves. Why can’t I be normal? Why am I like this? I find it useful to deal with it as if I was talking to my childhood self. I immediately become more understanding and less impatient with myself and my feelings. You could also imagine your friend is talking to you about their worries. Would you dismiss them? Be a friend to yourself.

Self-care

A lot of articles about self-care are basically lists of stuff you can buy yourself to cheer yourself up. While bath bombs and chocolate are great, money can be the root of anxiety for a lot of people so it’s not always possible to treat yourself. Other forms of self-care like messaging a friend, taking a shower and eating good, nourishing meals are as important and won’t cost you a thing.

When to seek professional help

Of course there are times when you are too anxious to leave your room, let alone go for a walk or draw a picture. When your anxiety is paralysing you, a discussion with a counsellor or therapist can be really beneficial. You might feel nervous before the appointment and want to bail, but taking that first step is really brave. Some people feel that talk therapy is enough for them, while others will do better with a combination of counselling and medication.

How to be a good friend to someone with anxiety

Let them know they can talk to you without fear of judgement. If you feel like their worries are irrational, don’t dismiss them. They most likely know that they are, but the feelings of worries are totally real and overwhelming. If they tell you they might have a panic attack, remove them from the stressful situation and stay with them as they work through their feelings.

Sending them a voice message when they feel low is also a really easy and reassuring thing to do. It’s also handy to know if they have any triggers, and any routines or tips that help to calm them down when things get bad. Always ask first, and never assume. Just listen and that will be appreciated more than you ever know.

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: Hailey Hamilton

To thine own selfie be true. Here are all the totally valid reasons you’ve almost definitely used for flipping that screen round…

1. You have new hair!

2. You have a new lipstick!

3. You have the same hair!

4. There is a cultural landmark just visible behind you.

5. There is a cultural landmark just off camera that you can totally tell people is there.

6. You are holding something adorable, and it hasn’t peed on you yet.

7. It is the first sunny day of the year.

8. It is the last sunny day of the year, maybe.

9. It is a cold and grey day, but people probably want to know how you feel about that.

10. It is Monday.

11. It is Saturday.

12. It is Wednesday.

13. You’re in a nice toilet.

14. You’re in a toilet that isn’t nice but has great lighting.

15. You tried a hat on.

16. You’re on a boat.

17. You’ve been crying really, really hard at a Christmas advert.

18. You’re with a pal!

19. You’re not with a pal but wishing you were.

20. You’re at a very boring family function.

21. There’s someone who might be a celebrity just behind your shoulder. You know, whassisface! From that thing!

22. There are beautiful autumn leaves.

23. There is snow.

24. You have an ice cream.

25. You just woke up.

26. You should be asleep.

27. You got a Starbucks.

28. You ate something that turned your tongue blue.

29. You have silly glasses on.

30. You have normal glasses on.

31. You’re teaching your nan how to use her new smartphone.

32. Somebody told you selfies were the work of the devil.

33. You’re experiencing an emotion.

34. You just noticed a filter you’ve never used before. Show me what you got, Stinson.

35. You’re near some amazing graffiti.

36. You’re near a colourful wall.

37. You’re near a brick wall.

38. You’re near any wall.

39. You’re alive! And you are fabulous.

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

Hi, my name is Sophie and I’ve had the same makeup routine for about eight years.

In a world of famous beauty bloggers, unicorn highlighter and sell-out lip kits, I remain steadfastly un-creative where my face is concerned. Here is my make up routine in its entirety: a few dabs of concealer, powder, mascara and lipstick (mostly red but pink if I’m feeling adventurous). If it’s a very special occasion, I’ll break out the liquid eyeliner. And that’s it.

It’s not that I’ve never tried; it’s just that any of my past forays into something a little more, let’s say; artistic have been failures on a grand scale. There was the pink eyeshadow/blue mascara phase when I started secondary school, the unfortunate black eyeshadow period when I got into metal music in a big way and the two days when I tried to wear foundation and ended up looking like a greasy, slightly orange plate.

I marvel at people who can blend and contour. How do people fill in their eyebrows without looking like they’ve been playing with a marker pen? How do they do tiny fake freckles and defined cheekbones? I have a feeling it might be a form of witchcraft.

Browsing a makeup counter is like trying to order off a Portuguese menu. I have no idea what I’m looking at and even if I did, I don’t have the skills to put any of it on my face without looking like a poorly-forged Picasso painting.

If this is all sounding awfully familiar, you’ll relate to every single one of these in a big way…

The only highlighter you use is the one in your pencil case

You’ve watched a million tutorials on how to apply flawless highlighter but you just have to accept that the only thing you’ll be highlighting is the notes you made in your last history class…

Cat eyes always end up as panda eyes

Sloooowly, sloooowly, just delicately angle the brush up. Just a chic little cat-eye flick. Bridgette Bardot beauty, here I come. Ok, that’s a bit longer than expected but that’s fine, I can work with that. I’ll just extend that bit so it joins the rest of it. That’s a touch wonky; I’ll just fill the wobbly bit in. Bit thicker than I was aiming for but no worries, I’ll just channel a more edgy vibe. I can pull that off. So, just one more tiny touch up aaaaaand… PANDA.

A ‘natural’ look just means no make-up

How can it take seventeen different products to make it look like you’re wearing no make up? You don’t possess the necessary skills to master that level of subtlety so you’re just going to embrace your oily t-zone.

Make up seems super-expensive

You go on a make up mission with your friend and she picks up three things. That will come to about 20 quid, you think. Guess again. She just laid down £70 without batting an eyelid and you’re about to call the police for daylight robbery.

You don’t get why there are so many different brushes

What can they all possibly be for?

You don’t understand those egg-shaped sponges either

Do they do a different job? What do you use them for? Why do they cost so much?!

Every shade looks the same to you

Your make up mad friend has products named ‘rose’, ‘blush’, ‘sweet nectar’ and ‘apricot pearl’ but they all just look like pink to you.

Every time you think you’ll try something new it ends up a disaster

Contouring. How hard can that be? Very, judging by the random, definitely not blended stripes all over your face. And the YouTuber made it look so easy…

You worry that you’ll turn into one of those old ladies who’s looked the same for the last forty years

After managing to master one signature look, you’re not about to give it up any time soon. But you worry that it’s going to be less Anna Wintour-style iconic and more stuck in the past-sad when you’re still rocking it in two decades’ time.

@SophieBenson_

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.