How do you spend your Saturday nights in? Reading? Painting? Cooking up a storm, just for you, and Skyping your lonely Canadian auntie? Or do you, like me, spend them on the sofa, refreshing Insta and mooning mournfully over photos of your friends at some lit party while sinking a family size pack of Twirl bites? If it’s the latter, then listen up lady: you’ve a lesson to learn — one which I am (obvs) still learning, and has taken my confidantes in this matter (bff’s Katie and Sophie) the best part of 20 years to master.

It is making time for yourself on a Saturday night: that time when, according to the laws of the universe, aka socials, you should either be hanging out with your mates, or on a date night with bae. It is writing ‘ME’ (or myself, or I) in your diary — and enjoying it, whether that’s through a film, a book, a bath or a long neglected talent like piano or painting. And if you too find this scary AF, I strongly recommend the following tips.

Switch off your phone

Or at LEAST put it in another room. The first step to enjoying time by yourself is to BE by yourself, as opposed to looking through a tiny, greasy window into the lives of others. Soon as you hit Insta or any group whatsapp chat you’re on the slippery slope toward painful (and false) comparisons, and bitter self-loathing

Express yo’self

Don’t just hit the internet automatically, as if there’s nothing else you could possibly do of an evening. What are you interested in? What are you good at, or do you enjoy doing that you perhaps haven’t done in a while? Sophie, who has been nailing Saturday nights in for a good number of years now, says “the risk of back to back social appointments, is that I don’t make time to feed my interests: the things that make me, well, me and fuel satisfying conversation” — like, in her case, drawing or curling up and reading. A Saturday night spent doing those things you’ve always loved — playing an instrument, writing a story, making cards — will enrich you in a way falling into a Youtube shaped black hole of cat videos is unlikely to do.

Plan Stan

Consider your night in, not as a burden, but as a gift of four or five hours of free time you’ve granted yourself. Put it in your diary, and plan it as a fixed date, says Katie — just as your would an evening with friends. As Sophie warns, “an urgent scouring of Netflix or iPlayer in the hope of finding something to fit the bill” all too often ends in a disappointment after a string of half-watched films and documentaries. What’s on your ‘to watch’ list? What was that book your bff recommended last week? “A really good, nourishing evening — one where I would delight and relish in it, and have not a shred of FOMO, would be to absorb myself in the things I love and that nourish me,” Sophie continues. That invariably demands thinking ahead.

Feed yourself

Just as important as nourishing your sense of self is nourishing your body. Cook a dish you love, or have wanted to cook for ages — or if cooking isn’t your vibe, nicely ask your parent to cook or order one of your favourite things. Have dessert, or at the very least some kind of treat, and make Saturday night in a real occasion as opposed to something that happened by default. No one can ever truly regret an evening that ended in zillionaire cheesecake from GU.

Refresh yourself

Have a bath, change your duvet and pull on your favourite pyjamas for a feeling of indulgent luxury that won’t cost you a penny. Don’t skulk in your bedroom too early though, warns Katie — you’ll feel like you’re hiding from the world. “I make a point to hang out in the sitting room. If I were to hang out in my room as if I were ill or something, I’d start to feel sorry for myself.” You don’t have to dress up for the occasion, but equally you don’t have to treat yourself like you’ve got the flu.

Share the love

A weekend night in is the perfect chance to catch up with a friend in another time zone — or even an elderly grandparent whose every Saturday night is a night in, and would relish a quick chat with you.

Take pride

A night in is nothing to be ashamed of: we all have them, and if we are to retain a sense of identity (see 1) we all need them. Katie tells me when she is having a Saturday night in, and what she is going to do. She’ll have a documentary lined up that she’s been wanting to watch for ages, or a book she’s just getting into, and she’ll be really excited about it — to the point that I’m invariably left wishing I had made such lovely plans for myself, too.

Have faith in yourself, and in your friends

I promise they will still be there for you come Monday morning. Own your Saturday night. Share it with them with as much enthusiasm as you would a night out, or on holiday. No one can laugh at you for cooking paella, stencilling your cousin a birthday card and watching a documentary about elephants on a weekend. Or at least, they can — but the joke’s on them, not you.

Easy like Sunday morning

Not going out means not being knackered on Sunday morning. Not being knackered on Sunday morning opens up a whole new world of eating, drinking and exercising possibilities which a less sprightly, Saturday-night-out you would have slept right through. Get that run in, book a tennis court before 12, or make coffee plans so you’ve done something social that weekend. Alternatively, make the most of the lie in and back yourself a sweet 16 hour sleep.

@clare_finney

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

Image: Getty

Summer is the greatest time of year, but there’s something about the rising temperatures and shedding of layers that can make even the most confident of ladies feel a bit, well, wobbly about their bodies.

If you thought celebs were immune to these feelings, you thought wrong, as nine celeb ladies talk body confidence – how to get it, keep it and what to do when you’re not quite there yet.

“I feel very empowered and confident and comfortable with where I am. And I think it took me a long while to get there because, you know, the past year was so interesting because I’ve never been body-shamed before. I did gain weight, but I don’t care. It wasn’t about how I gained weight, it was about how I embraced it. And that’s just kind of my approach.”

Selena Gomez shuts down her body-shamers and gives everyone a lesson in the art of not caring. Take note.

“This confidence is not something that happens overnight. I have been working on it for a long time. I look in the mirror and do affirmations: ‘You are bold. You are brilliant. You are beautiful.’ If my lower pooch is really popping out that day, I look at it and say, ‘Pooch, you are cute!’”

Model Ashley Graham knows that building your body confidence can take time and that’s OK.

“Sometimes when I’m having bad body image issue days, I remind myself that I’d rather live in freedom from my eating disorder than worry about what people think about my body… I am more than a number and a jean size.”

Demi Lovato faces her eating disorder head-on.

“I represent a body image that wasn’t accepted in high-fashion before… Yes, I have abs, I have a butt, I have thighs, but I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m fitting into my sample sizes. Your mean comments don’t make me want to change my body.”

Gigi Hadid’s open letter to her Instagram trolls is an inspiration to us all.

“We do not value ourselves enough. Especially young people, [who] don’t really appreciate, how brilliant our bodies are. I’ve always been very, very specific, and very choosy – very choosy ­– about what I do with my body, and who I want to share that with.”

Beyoncé knows her worth and isn’t afraid to let everyone else know, too.

“If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, ‘You can go f**k yourself.’ “

Jennifer Lawrence won’t be told how to look or eat by anyone, and for that we salute her.

“I know because I’m honest about my insecurities that people think I’m 100% positive about my body all the time, but I’m not. I get really uncomfortable, too. But I just remind myself that this is the body I was given. This is who I am.”

Ariel Winter practises the art of self-acceptance.

“I was actually just taking a picture of the bruises and then I saw the stretchmarks in there. I have those apps, the Facetune and Photoshopping ones, and I just didn’t feel like doing it anymore — and I’m never doing it again, because I think we forgot what normal people look like now.”

Chrissy Teigen explains her stretchmark selfie and why she won’t be editing them out of her Insta pics from now on.

“Stop trying to make people feel badly about their bodies. It’s okay to be different… to be curvy or to be thin… How about we respect people’s body boundaries and encourage each other to feel like a babe no matter how they are? That would be nice.”

Ariana Grande has nothing but love for ALL body shapes.

Amen, sisters!

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

Ergh, blushing. That dreaded phrase “You’ve gone red!” litters so many people’s teenage years and then some (sorry guys, it’s not going to stop after you’ve nailed puberty). It’s the most annoying song on the adolescence album, even including the “No, you’re not old enough” and “Can I see some ID please?” party (pooper) anthems.

As the old, slightly sinister, saying goes; Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer – so that’s what we’re going to do right now.

Let’s find out what blushing actually is, why we do it and whether or not there’s any way we can take back some control next time it turns up to the party, like a bully, and tells everyone who you fancy.

So, what actually is blushing?

Here’s what the NHS website tells us: ‘…blushing occurs when a strong emotional trigger stimulates the nervous system, resulting in the widening of the blood vessels in the face. This increases the flow of blood into the blood vessels just underneath the skin, causing your face to turn red.’ The website also states that blushing doesn’t just occur in the face, but can also make your neck, upper chest and ears scarlet.

Cool. So, essentially, blushing occurs because  ‘strong emotional triggers’ just happen to widen blood vessels, which happen to increase the flow of blood to our faces (right where our eyes are, so people can really see it – again, cool), and blood happens to be red. Not see-through, or even a very subtle pastel shade. Red. So it just happens to be very obvious when we blush, particularly for people with pale skin.

What the experts say…

So what counts as a ‘strong emotional trigger’, and is there any way we can stop them?

The short answer is no. Of course we can’t. Although we can pretend to the outside world that everything’s fine, trying to make our nervous system believe that we’re feeling chilled when we’re not just isn’t possible.

However, there is hope. You know how sometimes you’re blushing a little, then someone points it out and somehow that makes it worse? Well, a 2009 study suggests that a fear of blushing exists, which makes us all have an even worse time when it happens. But findings from the same study also showed that, although the person blushing is having a negative reaction to it, people generally do not react with negative judgement when they see someone blush.

So in other words, the only person that really cares when you’re blushing is you.

Another study from 2014 showed that ‘children reported more fear of blushing than adults’. Which tells us that, although we may not grow out of blushing, something clearly happens as we get older to stop us caring so much. Maybe it’s the fact that being a teenager is incredibly difficult, and there are way more opportunities for blushing to attack.

How to deal

Now we know what blushing is, why we do it and what other people are thinking when it happens, let’s make it all a little less painful. We may not be able to stop it happening completely but, like macaroni cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a bad period day, there’s always a way we can relieve the stress a little.

Number one; remember the research. The majority of people are not judging you when you blush – because who would? Who takes pleasure out of someone else’s social discomfort? No one whose judgement we care to accept. Next!

Beat blush at its own game

It may seem like a silly tip, but if you can convince yourself that people can’t see you blush it may help the situation pass by a little quicker. One way to do this is to, ironically, wear blusher. At least, this worked for me and a bunch of friends at college, who all noticed a difference in the number of people noticing our blushing because our cheeks were already flush with Bourjois Rose D’Or.

Own it

Remember all the great women whose embarrassing moments – and their unapologetic honesty in those times – have made people absolutely adore them; Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, your friends, you. Try to embrace it. It’ll happen anyway. When you think about it, embarrassing moments are actually amazing. They make for hilarious stories and memorable life experiences.

In his famous book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin describes blushing as ‘the most peculiar and most human of all expressions’. But really, it’s the most human of all expressions.

We blush because we’re human, and to be human is to feel a load of things; embarrassment, attraction, awkwardness, guilt, panic. It’s not easy, but it is normal and we all do it. To blush is to feel emotion in its truest, no-hiding-it sense. So just try to ride the wave – and think of all the great anecdotes.

Image: Laura Callaghan

Have you ever been really excited for Christmas or a birthday because you think you’re getting a particular present… but then you get something totally different, or (even worse) nothing at all?

Well, that’s how it can feel when all your friends and the girls in your class have big boobs and you don’t. Emotionally, as well as literally, flat.

It’s completely natural to feel a bit disappointed and left out when you hit your mid-teens and have small boobs when everyone else seems to be buying new bras, talking in cup-size code and wearing low cut tops. It can feel like they’re all part of a secret club, and you didn’t get invited.

Gretchen Weiners

But it’s easy to forget that we all come in different shapes and sizes. And every one of those shapes and sizes is perfectly natural and fine.

Sure, there are things about having big boobs that small-boobed sisters like you and me don’t get to talk about. Like how much we can store in our cleavage. Which celebrity has the same cup size as them. Um. The fact that big boobs can cause back pain. Wait – maybe it’s not all hunky-dory for those with big boobs either?

Glee relieved face

Truth is, there are just as many awesome things about being smaller up top too. (Shh, just don’t tell your big-boobed friends.)

Here are some of the reasons that having small boobs really isn’t a big deal. Like, at all.

1. You can go trampolining and running with ease

Jennifer Lawrence running on chat show

Bouncing up and down, running, dancing… in fact, most kinds of exercise can be easier when you have small boobs. That doesn’t mean you should skip buying a good sports bra, but you don’t need to find one with loads of rock-solid support or wear two at once like – yep – some other girls do.

2. You’ll never experience under-boob sweat.

Too hot gif

Because armpit sweat is annoying enough.

3. You have lots of small-boobed role models.

Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani, Kate Moss, Natalie Portman, Zoe Saldana, Kate Hudson – all proof you don’t need big boobs to be famous and awesome.

4. Shopping is (mostly) easier.

I'll take everything

Ok, so tops might not always fit perfectly and strapless dresses might not always look exactly like you thought they would in your head (although nine times out of ten, they’ll look great). But there are so many styles that look good, and you don’t have to worry about buttoning them up, falling out of them or buying an impossible secret invisible bra. Spree time!

5. You won’t get boob-related pain

HoneyBooBoo awesome gif

That’s right, you don’t have to worry about back pain. Not from boobs, anyway. In fact you might even have better posture over time, as nothing is weighing you down.

6. Things fit better (without any awkwardness)

Bette Davis seatbelts comment

Seatbelts, cross body bags, guitars and being strapped into, well, anything really.

7. You can sleep on your stomach

sleeping

You don’t have to position yourself so your boobs don’t get in the way, which means way more nighttime poses to choose from – and maybe fewer sleepless nights too.

8. They might change over time.

Joey sand boobs

Loads of women find that their boobs change as they get older. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn to love them just as they are, though – you totally should. But they might get bigger. They might change shape.

And they might not, but that’s where learning to love them comes in.

9. Bra shopping is (mostly) easier…

Lauren Conrad too easy

Yes it can be daunting to buy bras when you feel like your boobs are too small. But hear me out. Having small boobs means you can choose lovely dainty bralets, rather than bras built for support with lots of underwiring.

Think lacy and pretty. Simple and sporty. You can fake boobs with padding now and again if you want to try something new – or just embrace your A-cup realness. So much choice!

10. …And you can go braless whenever you want

New Girl boob unemployed

Sure you can wear a whole universe of different bras when you have small boobs… but you can go totally braless whenever you like too. In fact, we all can if we want to. Freedom!

@BeccaCaddy

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Have you ever gone to post something on Instagram but had second thoughts? Maybe because you’ve seen your best friends’ latest selfies or that celeb you love’s holiday snaps and worried that your hastily-snapped photo of your favourite old trainers doesn’t quite live up to them? Or maybe it’s because what you actually want to post is something about how scared and alone you feel at the moment, but you don’t think it’ll fit among all the happy, shiny photos on your feed. Or maybe you want you friends to know that you’re feeling crappy but not necessarily the whole world, y’know? You just might not want to share everything with everyone.

You, my friend, need a finstagram.

A finstagram is a second, locked Instagram account that you only let your close friends see. It’s like those alt Twitter accounts that everyone was making a few months ago; it gives you all the fun of the platform without any of the pressure that comes with having the world and their incredibly photogenic pets (seriously, when did everyone get a French bulldog or a floppy-eared spaniel?!) snooping on what you’re doing. People use them for funny screenshots of WhatsApps, ugly selfies, outfits they aren’t sure about, stuff that they care about that’s not ‘polished’ enough for Instagram, or even posts about how sad or stressed they are. Basically, anything that you don’t want on your public account because those are generally used for fun things, cool things and, let’s be honest, showing off a bit.

So what do we think of finstas? A lot of people are freaking out about them. They say it’s really bad that we are so obsessed with having a perfect persona that we put anything flawed on a secret account, and that they’re proof we’re all going to hell in a vain, self-obsessed handcart. And yeah, there are serious issues around the pressure people are feeling because of social media that need to be addressed, and no-one should be made to feel lesser-than because of the things they see online.

But also, I kind of love finstagrams. I love places that people can go to bitch and moan and be silly and test things out before they unleash them on the real world. I certainly don’t think that the existence of a finstagram makes a public Instagram account less “real”. It’s basically you at the end of year party vs you at a sleepover with your girls; there are some things you just don’t share with people who aren’t your BFFs.

People contain multitudes. Sometimes you’re the showy, glossy, perfect person that’d be on an Instagram account, and sometimes you’re a weepy mess with ice-cream stains down your t-shirt and deely boppers on, and that’s okay. I think it’s naive to assume that anyone is their true, authentic, 100% flawed self all the time, whether that’s online or in real life. Surely it’s better to have a place online to be that hot mess than it is to have nowhere online where you can exist without bringing your shiniest A-game?

If you want to get a finstagram, go right ahead. It can be a good place to express yourself in a world where sometimes it feels like no-one can be less than the 100 emoji all the time. Just remember that the you on your finstagram is as worthwhile as the you on your public profile, and you’ll be fine.

@jimsyjampots

Header: YouTube/SheKnows

When the results of this years Girls’ Attitudes survey by Girlguiding revealed that girls as young as 7 feel pressured to look ‘perfect’, we were upset. But not surprised.

Almost every woman and girl alive knows how it feels to be judged on our appearance – by friends and family, by boys in the street, by strangers, by the world – and how it feels to be so conscious of our appearance that it holds us back in life. From getting down and dirty on a sports field to seizing the most exciting opportunities, so much is sacrificed because of the pressure to be pretty.

But it turns out those 7-10 year old girls also have the answers sussed, saying loud and clear that the most important thing to improve their lives right now would be to stop judging girls and women on the way they look.

Got that, society? Stop. It. Now.

Newsflash: that means thinking twice about the nice comments, as well as the nasty. The ‘compliments’. Because obviously, being told you have great hair or a beautiful smile can make you feel great – but while we’re only praised on our appearance, it’s so much easier to believe that’s all we’re worth.

So inspired by Girl Guiding’s #YouAreAmazing campaign, we had a go at coming up with a whole list of lovely compliments you can give girls (or anyone really) that have nothing at all to do with their appearance.

And you know what? It wasn’t hard.

1. You are so clever.

2. You are so creative.

3. You are so brave. 

4. You know the lyrics to so many songs off by heart.

5. You’re perceptive.

6. You’re a brilliant listener.

7. You give really good advice.

8. You give quite bad advice, but always with the best of intentions.

9. You have the fiercest moves on the dancefloor.

10. You’re completely hilarious.

11. You’re a fantastic problem-solver.

12. You’re kind.

13. You’re generous.

14. You’re amazing at whistling.

15. You are very good at seeing the best in people, even when everyone else sees the worst.

16. You are very good at seeing the worst in people, even when they’re not as great as everyone thinks.

17. You have the wisdom of a very old oak tree.

18. You always pick the best place to eat lunch.

19. You have an excellent sense of smell.

20. You can always pronounce the non-English words on a menu correctly.

21. You’re tough, resilient and not afraid to take risks.

22. You’re the person everyone wants on their team.

23. You can probably hang pictures perfectly straight, first time.

24. If I threw something at you with no warning, I bet you’d catch it.

25. You’re such a quick learner.

26. You have the best taste in books.

27. You always have the perfect reaction gif for every occasion.

28. You’re the kind of person who can sing the harmonies in Happy Birthday.

29. You make the perfect cup of tea.

30. You have an adventurous spirit.

31. You have the brightest future ahead of you.

32. If I ever went on Pointless, I would want you for my teammate.

33. You have the best sense of direction.

34. You embody all the best qualities of each Hogwarts house, rolled into one.

35. You inspire me.

Share the love! Tweet us your best compliments @bettycollective, and join the Girl Guiding campaign with #YouAreAmazing.

We’ve had Galentine’s Day where we celebrate why we love our girls, and we’ve had Valentine’s Day where we celebrate why we love our crushes, but now it’s time for us to celebrate why we love ourselves! Here are six reasons why you should start loving yourself, like, right now.

Everyone else seems to really enjoy socialising, don’t they? They talk about how they’re going to arrange HUGE parties. Get BIG groups of friends together. And play lots of LOUD music!

To many of you that must sound like a lot of fun. But to others, it sounds scary.

That’s because we’re all unique. Some of us (known as extroverts) feel energetic when we’re around others. Talking to new people, socialising with friends and dancing around fuels our personalities and makes us shine. But others (the introverts) are the opposite. Being around people can feel a bit overwhelming and you might find you feel more ‘yourself’ when you’re on your own.

And of course there’s a whole grey area in between. People who don’t like being around big groups, but feel really at home with a few close friends. And others who worry about parties and yet feel great about being around new people once they’re settled in. Hey, awkward people of all flavours – you’re not alone (even when you’re quite literally alone)!

Here are the stages everyone in the awkward gang has experienced…

Stage one: the invite

miss-piggy
You’ve received an invite to something! Amazing! You’re loved! People want to hang out with you! That’s awesome, right? RIGHT? Wait, why are you looking so scared?!

Getting invited to something can feel weird. You’re happy you have friends. But you’re also scared of what’s going to happen. Immediately your mind will be filled with all kinds of thoughts. Including, but not limited to, what will you wear? What if you fall over? What if no one wants to talk to you? And repeat.

The key to getting through this stage? You can’t predict the future. Honestly, you can’t. Maybe one day, but until then it’s best to label all your thinking as ‘worrying’ and therefore not real. It sounds simple, but over time you can say “hey, that’s a worry” instead of “I’m scared.”

Stage two: Getting ready

clothes
This is when all of your worries from stage one kick in. You try on 354846 outfits. You analyse what people will think of everything. And you’ll consider not going. A lot.

Stage three: Definitely, absolutely not wanting to go

dr-who
Stage two often leads to stage three: not wanting to go out. Sometimes a totally legitimate plan of action is to follow that little voice and just not go – because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, ok?

BUT, and this is a huge BUT, proving to yourself that you can go to something and feel ok about it and maybe, just a little bit, even, kinda have fun, will be really beneficial in the long run. Even if you don’t go out the next few times.

It’s all about weighing up the pros and cons. If you feel like you can see some positives, always take that leap. But never feel bad if you opt for a quiet night in instead.

Stage four: Getting there

mean-girls
You’ve worried about what to wear, you’ve convinced yourself you’re going and now it’s usually around the time you’ll worry about how to get there. The bus? Your dad who might say something embarrassing?

If you’re nervous about going somewhere, it always makes sense to have a solid plan about how you’ll arrive. Get a friend’s mum to give you a lift, or see if your parents are available to take you and your BFF so you don’t arrive on your own.

Stage five: Feeling awkward

tina-fey
You get there and get all shy. Especially if you don’t recognise people, there are new people or people you don’t really get on with. You feel like the earth might swallow you up. That’s if you don’t feel like you might spill food everywhere first.

The best tip for getting through this stage. Stop. Breathe. Listen to people. Don’t feel pressured to be the bright, shining light of the party.

Stage six: Speaking and socialising

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You might worry about what you’re saying. Or feel like your arms are waving around really weirdly and maybe your top will fall down a bit. How could you possibly talk to people? How could this not be a disaster and the cause of your untimely death?

A really useful piece of advice is to play the part of someone who is confident. What would that person speak like? How would they stand? We’re not telling you to get all Shakespearean, just think about what it might be like if you were a confident person. You might just start to be that person without even acting.

Stage seven: Maybe feeling a bit more awkward again

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You were just starting to feel good and now you’re worrying again. You saw someone wearing the same top and someone else didn’t want to talk to you about homework.

But feeling shy isn’t all or nothing. You don’t get shy and then feel amazing. It comes in waves. So feel proud of getting there, but if you have a blip and feel a bit funny, that’s fine too.

Stage eight: Having fun? Maybe? Possibly?

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If you don’t feel like you can really have fun or chat to people, that’s fine. But often there’s a stage when you’ll feel like you’ve come out of your shell a bit, you’ve walked up to new people and scared yourself silly, you’ve found someone you know and feel a lot better… and maybe you’ve even plucked up the courage to have a dance. A DANCE.

Stage nine: Feeling exhausted and maybe a bit proud too 

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Whether you made 20 new friends or just spoke to two people you’re not that keen on, you went. You did it. Feel proud. And now it’s time to get home and get a good night’s sleep.

Or, ok, obsess for two hours over everything you did and said. Then sleep.

Bonus nugget of wisdom: It’s ok to feel funny around people (promise)

Remember: You’re not the only one that feels like this. It may seem like your school is full of party-loving extroverts, but there are plenty of shy types making a mark on the world too!

Sure it may seem like everyone else lives for socialising. But it’s ok to feel a bit awkward and shy around groups. It’s ok to prefer to hang out with just your BFF or even grab a good book and enjoy your own company. Because hey, sometimes a Me Party can be the best party of all.

Me Party

@BeccaCaddy

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

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

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

1. Put. The tweezers. Down. 

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

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

2. Give your hair a holiday

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

3. Go easy on the exfoliating.

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

4. Embrace the actual shape of our faces

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

5. Have fun

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

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

Image: Getty

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 red cup.

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.

Image: Manjit Thapp

Oh life, you fickle creature. One minute, you’re feeling on top of the world, the next you’ve fallen arse over tit at the Oscars while the whole world is watching on TV – or at least later on YouTube (sorry to bring that up again J. Law, it’s just such a great example). 

In the interests of unpicking perfection, we asked everyone at betty to give share their biggest life fails… and oh boy, they didn’t disappoint. So anytime you feel like you’ve screwed up at life, remember: we’ve probably done worse.

In fact, we definitely have.

I was doing a big race in the summer, running downhill and fell over a big rock. I went flying and landed with a thud and multiple injuries, one of which was a massive cut on my bum. I then had to wait for the medics, who made me lie on the floor while the guy stuck my bum back together, shouting to passers-by, ‘don’t worry, she’s just broken her bum’, while my friend took pictures.

“Having desperately wanted to play the Angel Gabriel in the my whole childhood (I went to a progressive primary school where all the boys had to be angels and the girls had to be shepherds, which I now appreciate was pretty cool but at the time I was mainly, shamefully, concerned with the amount of glitter on my costume), my dream eventually came true when I got to be Gabriel in a nativity play at high school. Aged 16. I wore a rather slinky cream satin bridesmaid’s dress with feathered wings, a majestic halo and a tonne of pearly highlighter. I felt amazing. But when the time came to make my entrance and tell Mary her big news, I managed to step on the trailing hem of my dress as I mounted the podium. I plunged headfirst through the curtain, managing to simultaneously yank down the top of my dress and reveal an eyeful of my celestial bodies to the assembled audience. The silence was only broken by the headteacher calling out “oh look, a fallen angel!” – to my knowledge the only joke she’d ever made. Really glad I handed her that special moment.”

The first time I dyed my hair red I was about 12 and had not factored in how thick my hair was when we bought only one box of dye. By the time she’d done my roots there was barely anything left for the rest of my hair. We hoped for the best, but I ended up with bright red roots, two inches of red, and pale brown hair until the ends. And I had to go to school for a day until we could re-dye it the next night. Everyone called me ‘period head’, because it looked like someone had had their period on my head (we had a bad grasp of biology back then).

“One summer Saturday when I was about 13, my friend and I decided that the only way to deal with the heat was to go to the local pool – and it turned out that my crush and his friend had the same idea. I was desperate to impress him, so I decided to jump off the highest diving platform to get his attention, even though I’m horrendously scared of heights. After crying and hyperventilating my way up the ladder, I summoned the courage to jump and immediately regretted it. The force of the passing air pushed my bikini top up around my chin, and as soon as I hit the water my bikini bottoms made a dash for my ankles. I ended up frantically trying to reclaim my wayward bikini while still underwater, and by the time I surfaced with everything back where it should be, I’d been under for so long that the lifeguard was about to jump in and rescue me. I hoped that my crush had missed the whole thing, but wasn’t that lucky – he spent the next umpteen years calling me “Jumping Boobs”. We never got together.”

I went to a fancypants dance school growing up and we used to compete in festivals a lot. I was quite self-conscious about how I looked compared to the others (I was tall and not as ‘delicate’, puberty hit me early) so never pushed myself for fear of looking silly, but decided to ‘screw it’ and really ‘go for it’ with a lift at the end of one dance. ‘Going for it’ ended up meaning ‘going flying for it’ as I slipped and crashed down on some others, bashing my knee black and blue in the process. I was so embarrassed, cried, and was glared at, but we still came first, so. No one saw anything, right?

“At my high school prom I wore a white dress with a lacy top and a pencil skirt sort of bottom. I looked nicceeeeee. I got talking to a gentleman who turned out to be a semi-professional ballroom dancer – and obviously, when he suggested he showed me some of his moves, I happily agreed. He wanted to do a flip, which basically required me to run at this relative stranger and dive headfirst towards the floor, trusting he would catch and flip me. Because I’m an idiot, I took off my heels and gamely ran at him, launching myself into the air, my arms above my head in dive position. He caught me (thank God) and we pulled the flip off with amazing precision. However, I hadn’t taken into account that my dress was actually quite tight and mid flip I heard a ”RIIIIIIIIIIIIP” (is a rip onomatopoeia? We’ll pretend it is). I  ripped my dress from the bottom all the way up to my bra strap. Somebody sourced some safety pins to pin it back together and I walked around for the rest of the night with half my bum hanging out.”

When I was in secondary school there was this bizarre trend for getting tiny little diamantes stuck on to your front teeth. (Yeah, don’t ask.) Anyway, me and my friends thought it was a great idea for doing it ourselves, rather than going to the so-called beauty experts who were doing it for a fiver in nail salons. So we bought the gems and some nail glue, carefully sticking them in place. Turns out we must have used too much glue or the wrong glue, because we were left with sparkly incisors for long after the look went out of fashion again. Safe to say neither our mums or our dentists were very happy with the new look.

Back when I was 18, I went on a snorkelling trip in Thailand despite being terrified of deep water. We spent a day island-hopping with 30 strangers – it was all going swimmingly (sorry, couldn’t resist) until I looked out at this great expanse of hazy, blue water and had a mini freakout. My imagination went into overdrive, horror scenes from Jaws flashed through my head and I panicked and frantically splashed back towards the boat. What I didn’t realise was that my baggy bikini bottoms had slipped down to my ankles at the exact moment I swam past all those people wearing snorkelling masks. So, to summarise: I made it back to the boat bare bottomed, everyone else got an eyeful and I had to spend the rest of the day surrounded by strangers who had just seen EVERYTHING.”

When I was 14, I wet myself from laughing so much while at the park with my friend and her dad that her dad had to carry my trousers home ON A STICK down the main road while I had a zipped-up hoodie wrapped round my waist like a skirt.

The first time I went to the hairdressers and asked for a real hairstyle – as opposed to a simple trim – I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted sassy, grown up layers, I wanted hair that casually flicked around my face, that made me look at once meticulously put together and casual and fun. As a family, we did not have the money for hairdressers who are capable of this kind of nuance, so I took my example picture and my dreams to a place called Just Snips, that would cut your hair for three or four pounds. The hairdresser gave me layers. The hairdresser gave me exactly two layers. The bottom layer came down to just above my shoulders, it flicked out slightly at the bottom. The top layer was in line with my ear lobes. I have a lot of hair. A lot. The short, top layer doubled the size of my head. I looked like a mushroom cloud. Everyone needs to have a haircut that drives them to tears at least once in their life, and this was mine. I went back and got them to ‘fix it’ – but I ended up with hair flicking out every which way from my ears to my shoulders. High school got really fun for a while there.”

I fainted on the train in evening rush hour, knocking two other people to the ground, vomited on my own coat, a woman’s shoes and guys suitcase on wheels. Had to be carried off the train, (followed by most of the passengers from the carriage covering their noses) rolled in a blanket on the platform on Paddington station, and made to wait there for doctor to come. I still worry when I get back on that line how many people recognise me from that day and don’t say anything, but keep their distance…

It was back in the day when dark big and bushy brows (I am naturally born with these) were not yet in fashion. Overwhelmed and self-conscious, I decided to tame my brows a few days before starting university. My mum suggested a trip to the eyebrow threading lady followed by a swift home-bleaching session to “lighten” them up a little. This is something women from the Middle East commonly do – usually your hairdresser would dye your hair and eyebrows together. But we were going to do it at home and neither of us was sure how long bleach would need to take effect on eyebrows. It turned out 10 minutes was too long. When I wiped it off, I found yellow eyebrows. I had to colour my eyebrows in for weeks and made a unique impression at fresher’s week. I haven’t messed with my eyebrows or listened to my mum since.”

I fell down the gap on the tube the other week! I went straight down and had to be helped out by bemused strangers who kept telling me to “get out!” but I was dazed, and my leg got attached to the undercarriage of the train. I just kept saying, calmly, “I’m very tired, so sorry,” as they panicked that the train was going to pull off. One shoe fell off – one felt worse than two, somehow – and a kind (brave) stranger balanced on the edge of the platform to fish it out with a very long umbrella.

“Aged 18, and still riding an A* GCSE wave, I was so, so confident that I’d not only passed my English Literature exam but absolutely smashed it. And I mean confident – I mic dropped my biro. All summer I gloated, telling anyone who’d listen that I guess when I got that school poetry prize aged eight I should have known I had rhyming couplets running through my veins. When summer was over and results day rolled in, I sauntered up to the table to collect my grades – probably (I mean, I was) wearing a charity shop trilby and ripped jeans for the ‘starving artist’ vibe, Pulitzer Prize speech saved in the notes section on my phone. You’ve probably guessed by now that it did not go well. I got a U. Indignant, I paid to get the paper remarked. It was bumped up to an E. I ended up using my free periods to sit in on lessons with students in the year below me for a whole year and, thankfully, eventually passed with a boring old C. But the silver lining is: despite a lot of shattered pride and frustration, I grew a thick skin, which is how I was eventually able to become a paid writer. Stick that in your Tiger Tiger Burning Bright and smoke it, William Blake.”

Last year, I found myself starting a big new amazing job just a week after moving into my new flat. It was a pretty stressful time but I seemed to be holding it all together remarkably well. At least that’s what I thought… until the morning I sat on my peanut butter and strawberry jam bagel. I’d got into the habit of eating my breakfast in my bedroom while getting ready however, on this fateful morning I placed my breakfast on my bed… and then proceeded to sit on it. As the jam penetrated my PJ bottoms, I felt all of my calm and togetherness melt away, and realised that I was actually INCREDIBLY tired. Still, I did what any normal person would do under the circumstances, and took a picture of my jammy bum before whipping off my PJ bottoms, picking my bagel off the floor, and eating it. Yum.

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See. Told you we’d done worse.