Hands up if you’re secretly missing school at the mo. Yeah, it’s not like we miss Pythagoras and his theorem or anything, but we’re just not used to being away from our buddies for so long. And no summer job is going to be able to cover the amount of meals, cinema trips or ice cream cones we need to make up for lost time.

So, with the parents’ permission, get the girl gang round to yours! You don’t need a lesson timetable to dictate your bonding time. August’s bettybox is the PERFECT inspo for recreating your own betty sleepover (*hotel not provided. Soz. Wouldn’t fit in the box).

You’ve seen the vids; you know how Grace Victory, SophDoesNails and Just Jodes rocked their betty sleepover hosting, but just incase you need a little tick list…

1. Set the vibes

Ambiance is super-important, so crack out the fairy lights and crank up the tunes. Sort a playlist ahead of time, so you can really nail the mood. You’ll be wanting some proper belters in there, so you can all sing along, plus some good dance tunes to mess about to. The bedroom floor is your stage, Beyoncé.

2. Snackage

Popcorn, marshmallows (try the chubby bunny game, but be careful not to choke), cake and a biccy or ten = sleepover snack goals. The lemon and ginger flavours in Rhythm 108’s biscuit in your August bettybox are a perfect pairing and we want a whole plateful right now.

3. Drinks

If your mum is on to you about your teeth, or your friend is getting all health conscious (erm, hello, it’s the *holidays*), The London Tea Company’s Purple Tea is a fab alternative to fizzy drinks. Now, we’re not suggesting you sit with a hot cuppa in the middle of summer. Oh, no. It’s all about iced tea, baby! And how Instagrammable is a purple drink? Very. First step Insta, next step YouTube and vlogging superstardom!

4. Get yo’ face on

Sleepovers are a great chance to try out new looks without the fear of being judged if it looks crapola. Let your friends loose on your face with your new My Flawless brush (it’s made of soft synthetic fibre that picks up the perfect amount of blusher/bronzer/powder/glitter) and the Colour Switch lippy from Saturated Colour, both included in August’s bettybox. Why not try the ombré lip tutorial featured in this month’s collective booklet?

5. Nails

You’re not hosting a proper sleepover unless nails are getting done somewhere in the room. Raise the bar a notch and expand the art past your nail beds with a Stylondon henna tattoo. It’s really quick and easy to do, and looks oh-so-pretty on your hand.

6. Sharing is caring

A girly sleepover is a great forum to share any worries and get advice from your girls who may have gone through, or are going through, similar things. As you’ve seen at our betty sleepovers, the girls share their experiences with each other, which make them feel less alone. Getting an outside opinion will always put problems into perspective.

7. Wind down

When the credits roll after the 10th film of the evening, it’s probably time to wind down. After the make-up, facemask goo, and 16 new dance routines you’ve choreographed to perfection, don’t even think about committing the cardinal sin of sleeping with your make-up on! Get the gunk out of your pores using your Urban Veda purifying face wash. Squirt into your new Spa For You Konjac sponge for a deep but gentle clean. Now, after all that, go forth and catch some zzzzzzs. You’re on breakfast duty in the morning!

If you haven’t subscribed already, don’t worry! You can sign up for a bettybox here.

Image: Kerri Walter

I’ve got a real love-hate relationship with group chats.

On the one hand, no one really has the time or patience to manually copy and paste the same sentence into a gazillion separate messages. We’re not about that. It’s way easier to moan on mass and gather important outfit info in a single shared conversation where, in theory, everyone reads and responds to texts with an suitably lol emoji at the drop of a notification.

But, we all know that’s not quite how it goes, is it?

Group chats are brilliantly chaotic at the best of times. If you’re anything like me and have roughly 19 on the go (and by that I mean 19 that exist but two that are actually ever in use), you might have noticed that they all follow pretty much the same pattern before fizzling out.

If they were all boiled down to seven stages, this would be it. Sound familiar?

1. The name game

What’s in a name, you ask? So. Much. Pressure. I’m pretty sure when Shakespeare threw that line into Romeo and Juliet, he wasn’t thinking about the stress of inviting a bunch of people into a convo and then having to decide whether to name it or not. But it’s about as stressful as what the star-crossed lovers were dealing with*. Kind of.

Obvs, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t name your group chat. But for the sake of knowing which chat is which and avoiding that tragically awkward thing of sending the wrong message to the wrong group, a named chat can be the saving grace you didn’t see coming.

*maybe don’t cite this in your English homework.

2. Who’s missing?

Working out who to include in a group chat is normally straight forward enough. But when it comes to those irregular chats, the ones with a specific purpose outside of your day-to-day gab, there’s always that minor panic of not including someone. After all, no one likes to be left out.

missing-kevin

Saying that though, once I panicked a bit too much about not inviting every single person I knew to a conversation and accidentally added the friend whose surprise birthday we were planning. Safe to say it didn’t remain a surprise.

3. Awkward side commentary

There comes a time in every group chat when someone goes rogue. They’ll say something that you’re not happy about, that doesn’t make sense or that really needs some thought.

So you end up having separate conversation with your BFF to talk about what’s been said, which then becomes a live commentary on what is (or isn’t) spoken about.  Then you end up chatting about a load of completely unrelated things and forget about the group chat you were originally meant to be paying attention to.  Which leads us swiftly on to…

4. The dreaded ‘delivered, read, no response’ fiasco

On a scale from one to annoying, this HAS to be at the top of everyone’s list of blood-boiling, forehead-vein-popping pet hates.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. Sometimes we’re on our phones and then it rings/dinner’s ready/Netflix crashes/you fall asleep. The messages we were meant to reply to are then forgotten, leaving our friends with nothing more than two blue ticks and zero idea whether we’re okay with going as the Seven Dwarf to that fancy dress party. But still, it drives everyone crazy.

5. ‘Oh. Okay. Bye then’

You unlock your phone and open your app. You check into the group conversation to see how many people read your last message because as we mentioned earlier, people forget/get busy/don’t respond. Then you see the five words no group chatter is ever emotionally ready to read…

‘Jessie has left the conversation’.

giphynn

They’ve left. Like, gone. Without so much of a ‘bye guys’.

Sometimes it’s an accident and they have to awkwardly ask to be re-invited. But it never looks like an accident, does it? Oh, no. The rest of you are left scratching your heads wondering what on earth you might’ve done to annoy Jessie so much. 

6. Get a room

Ok, this might be what annoyed Jessie so much. There’s a time and a place to talk about the things that only really relate to a single person, my friends, and that’s in one of those old school one-to-one ‘conversations’.

giphy-3

But eventually, inevitably, someone in every group chat will direct a question an individual rather than the whole group. Next thing you know they’re 58 notifications deep into a conversation that no one else can jump into. Take it outside, people.

7. Stalemate

If you’re lucky, by this time the whole reason for starting a group chat in the first place will have been resolved. You’ll all know what you’re wearing to that fancy dress party, the surprise birthday will be planned and that thing you needed to moan about will have received a hearty amount of support.

But then everyone runs out of things to say because questions have been answered and you’re left in GCL (group chat limbo). As other conversations overtake, it’s no longer at the top of your screen and your pocket pals are left in the wilderness.

At least, that’s until the next group chat is created. See number 1.

@JazKopotsha

Image: Hailey Hamilton

You… yes you! You can keep your BIG NIGHTS OUT and trips to the cinema, because as far as I’m concerned you absolutely can’t beat a sleepover. Seriously, from my cat’s birthday to Halloween, New Year’s Eve to the Strictly Come Dancing final – give me a half-baked ‘occasion’ and I’ll grab a mate, some snacks and a sleeping bag.

But isn’t having your friends round for dinner practically the same thing, you ask? Well no. No it isn’t. Yes, having your friends over for a homemade feast is fantastic, but having them stay the night is a whole different – and far superior – ball game.

Here’s why…

Blossom sleepover

Quality friendship time

We’re all so busy that under normal circumstances it’s hard to spend more than a couple of hours with a mate (usually sandwiched between boring commitments you’d sell a kidney to avoid). Sleepovers however guarantee a good 12 – 16 hours of solid gold quality friendship time. Keeerching!

You always have THE BEST conversations just before you drop off to sleep

Whether it’s a drunk-on-tiredness confessional or something nonsensical but pee-your-pants funny, some of my most memorable convos with friends have happened just before we’ve departed for snoozeville.

The munch

Everyone knows a good sleepover should involve food. LOTS OF FOOD. Basically, it’s the perfect excuse to totally overindulge – if you don’t wake up with a Haribo-induced tummy ache you’re doing it wrong.

The morning after the night before

Although you’ll probably wake up with a stiff neck and Doritos crumbs on your face in a room that reeks of ‘body’, the morning after a sleepover is still THE BEST. Because if there’s a better way to start the day than eating tea and toast in your pjs, in front of Princess Diaries, surrounded by your besties, we wanna hear about it.

Bff bonding

Sleeping next to someone is obviously a pretty intimate act, which is why a sleepover is a great way to bond. Nothing says friends4eva like a bit of occasional spooning.

Cheaper than chips

Broke (or just trying to save your pennies for a rainy day), but also in need of some serious friend time? Then a sleepover is your saviour, as they literally don’t have to cost you a penny. We know… genius!

Totes on trend

You’ve heard of ‘hygge’ – the hot-right-now Danish lifestyle trend which is basically all about being cosy – right? Well what could be more hygge than midnight hot chocolates under the duvet with your soul sisters? We think we’ve made our case.

And because I’m such a sleepover connoisseur, here are my top tips for the perfect slumber party:

1. Friends. You will need some. Ideally no more than five. Sleepovers should be intimate (not like THAT) and chill, and if the group’s too big it’ll splinter off into sub-groups and probably end in tears – or at least tension. Also – who has room to sleep more than five extra people in their house? Exactly.

Sleepover gif

2. Food. You will need some. In fact, the more the better. Sleepovers are all about homely indulgence – no one should ever feel peckish. Main meal wise, you really can’t beat pizza or, if you’re feeling fancy, fajitas. But don’t stop there. You’ll also need snacks, lots of snacks.

 

Little Mix eating pizza

3. Entertainment. If you’re planning to watch a movie, please learn from my past mistakes and make it one you’ve all watched a million times before. There’s absolutely no way you’re all going to stay quiet the whole way through (or be able to pause every time someone needs a loo break), so watching something that will require your full concentration is a recipe for sleepover disaster.

Sleepover girls

Now, go forth and slumber! Or at least lie in the dark and try to, until one of you starts laughing.

@SiamGoorwich

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Today is International Friendship Day.

It’s the perfect time to celebrate awesome friends, whether they’re on the other side of the world, a few doors down the street or half-watching Pretty Little Liars in bed next to you.

I made, kept and lost a lot of friends when I was growing up, as my family moved around exactly eight times before I turned 16. It’s tough, and my poor mum endured a lot of tears and tantrums that I dedicated to her.

We first moved to another country while I was at primary school. I felt like a pea being ripped out of its pod and thrown into a mountainous salad of the unfamiliar. The kids in my new school wanted to know more about me and I just wanted to go back to my ‘real’ home.

But the tears of sadness and anxiety soon dried. I found the joy of writing letters to my pen-pals in England and started to open up to the new crowd and give them a chance. I made friends and soon felt like the most popular kid in school, just because everyone wanted to be pals with the new English girl.

After a couple of years, my family returned to England and I faced the sadness and frustration all over again. I cried my eyes out when my new best friend gave me a brown faux-leather coat as a leaving present – I’d eyed it up in the local department store for weeks.

But my emotions were mixed once more, as I was excited to be reunited with my old buddies, telling them all about my time away and showing off my pierced ears and bobbed hair. I would reach peak popularity, again!

I never saw the girl who gifted me with the coat after I left, but I’ll always be thankful to her
for being my pal and giving me something that made me feel like I was a total rock star. And I’m forever grateful to the friendly classmates who welcomed me into their school and invited me to their birthday parties like I was royalty.

Looking back, these experiences helped me to mature into a teenager, then adult who can cope with change. I learnt to be brave and open minded about meeting new people, which can often feel like walking into a room of Death Eaters.

I inherited and continued the habit of moving around well after finishing school and leaving the nest. I even somehow ended up in Paris for six months! It put me in good stead for continuing to make new friends. I learn something from every person I meet; about the world, about them and about myself.

I went on to live with an Irish girl and a Spanish girl when I moved to Edinburgh. We’d never met before moving in together but I soon considered them two of my best friends. Last year we reunited at my Spanish friend’s family home in Madrid and it felt like nothing had changed, except her gorgeous apartment wasn’t infested with mice and mould like our old digs. We’re meeting up again this year, in Morocco, using our friendship as a perfect excuse to explore the world together.

There are also the times when other people are the ones to leave a friend-shaped hole in my life.

My best friend moved to Canada with a boy. She was so excited, I thought I’d never see or hear from her again. But thanks to Skype, we ended up speaking more regularly than we had done in a long time. In fact, I definitely did the old ‘oh the Wifi is breaking up’ trick a few times when Made in Chelsea was about to start during one of our Monday night catch ups. But even though she was approximately a million miles away, I knew she’d be there for me no matter what.

Friendships don’t need constant attention, just a little watering now and again to keep things in bloom. And in a world of social media and instant communication, saying goodbye in person doesn’t mean that the friendship must end.

I have recently reconnected with old friends in London through Facebook, I natter with my Yorkshire based buds on WhatsApp throughout the week, and I receive much needed grownup advice and guidance from my talented writer friend in China (along with British reality TV lolz and bantz that she admirably keeps us with over there).

Even if all you can do to today is send a good thought to someone, do it for the friends – old and new, near and far – who have helped shape you into the person that you are.

Me? I want to thank all my friends, wherever you are, for constantly making me feel as special as I did the first time I put on that coat and strutted into the classroom.

@hlouiser89

Image: Kate Borrill

I remember vividly the quivering sense of excitement I felt when my parents told me I was going to have a brother or sister. A playmate, I cried! After six long years of solitude, I was finally being rewarded with a partner in crime; a bad guy to my good guy; a fellow cast member with which to share the makeshift stage. For nine months I dreamed of all that we’d do together. His Action Man could save my Barbie — or, if he was a girl, her Barbie and mine could fight for Ken’s affections!

Looking back, my doll games were fairly limited in their plot lines, and in their depressingly conformist gender roles. More ambitious plans included reaching the top of the apple tree (I’d stand on their shoulders), forming a secret club of secrets (I’d be Club Captain), and reenacting the Little Mermaid in the paddling pool.

His arrival did not disappoint me. Sure he was small, but that was surely a temporary impediment. Patiently I pushed toy cars at him, placed Action Man in his tiny hands, and dressed him up in dresses, tiaras or dog masks according to the stage production or my mood.

Often I lost patience: WHEN would he just grow up! I’d shout, as he poked his tongue through the holes of the tennis racket I’d given him, picked up the ball and chewed it obliviously — and really, by the time he really was of Action Man playing age, I’d almost lost interest. I was 13 and had more important things to think about than dolls with contourless plastic for genitals — until an idle moment, rain and a sudden urge for silliness showed me the error of my ways.

You’ll be hilarious (simply because you’re older)

Whatever you do or say will be automatically far funnier than anything their minds can even conceive of (caveat: this only works up to a certain age — then they’re funnier than you).

There is no pressure

You don’t have to do or be anything other than their older sister. You can have a face like a slapped arse and be wearing your gran’s body warmer and they’ll still think you are the coolest thing in the world.

They’ll laugh you out of your moods

Either because they’ll do, or say something stupid, or because it’s actually impossible to run around the garden ‘riding’ a cane with your dad’s sock stuffed full of plastic bags tied to the end, with a horse’s face drawn on, and not crack a smile.

They will love you for it

In world in which people are increasingly hard to please, the simple offering of half an hour of your time will earn you no end of devotion from them, and your parents praise.

You don’t have to be cool

In fact, the more silly you are, the better. Hoover their foot. Shoot them with a banana. Steal their hat and run off with it. Make farting noises or, better still, actually fart at them — then run out and shut the door.

You can abuse them

See above. Obviously don’t punch them or anything. At least, not hard. Or too near their eye area. But by and large, when it comes to siblings, you can metaphorically speaking go for broke.

You’ll be good with kids

Being able to entertain the younger members of your family is the best possible preparation for being an adult who can speak to children without sounding like a simpering idiot — and ultimately, for having a good relationship with your own kids.

You’ll help your parents

Spare a thought for the ‘rents. They’ve only just got you to the feeding, speaking and walking stage, now they’ve got to go and do it all again in what must seem like a never-ending carousel of childcare. Take them off their hands for ten minutes or so and you’ll earn some serious brownie points — not to mention bargaining power when it comes to your next big night out.

You’ll be friends forever

Yeah, it’s taken some time — but 20 years later that that tiny, wailing, flopping thing was worth the investment. My brother has picked me up when I’m down, shot me down when I’m up myself, ferried me from parties, airports and train stations and built various bits of furniture. They may be as irritating as eczema, sunburn and hives all rolled into one, but trust me: in every sibling there lies a potential best friend.

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Model siblings are nothing new. We’ve got the Hadids: Gigi, Bella and Anwar. The Delevingnes: Cara and Poppy. The Hills: Taylor, Mackinley and Chase (plus their photographer sister, Logan Rae). But, now, there are two new photogenic sisters on the block: Delilah Belle and Amelia Gray Hamlin.

Delilah was showing me her calf muscles…impressive

A post shared by Amelia (@ameliagray) on

Daughters of Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna and her actor husband Harry Hamlin, the comparisons between Delilah and Amelia, and Gigi and Bella, are inevitable. The Hadid girls’ mum, Yolanda, was also a Real Housewife and handily Delilah and Amelia have the same one blonde, one brunette thing going on as their elder counterparts.

But, Hadid connections aside, why should you get invested in @delilahbelle and @ameliagray? Well, funny you should ask…

They’re both signed to IMG Models

fyi we jumped in the pool today 😝

A post shared by Delilah Belle (@delilahbelle) on

Joining the ranks of Victoria’s Secret Angels Candice Swanepoel and Jasmine Tookes, plus modelling legends like Kate Moss and Gisele, Delilah and Amelia were both recently snapped up by IMG. That means big modelling jobs, which in turn means epic behind the scenes snaps on both their ’grams, so stay tuned.

Their style is sick

we're motherf'ing star boys

A post shared by Delilah Belle (@delilahbelle) on

The Hamlin girls employ stylist Odessa Lu Nikolić and it shows. From red carpets to Coachella, Delilah and Amelia are never not looking amazing, so their Instagrams are a seriously great source of fashion inspo.

Their vacay photos will give you serious wanderlust

Yo where's my baguette 🥖??

A post shared by Amelia (@ameliagray) on

Birthdays in Paris, beach weeks in Cabo; Delilah and Amelia know how to live. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself on Skyscanner immediately after peeping their feeds.

Their friends are all cooler than cool

Quiet on set

A post shared by Amelia (@ameliagray) on

Expect an insane line-up of celebrity offspring in the Hamlins’ pics, including Cindy Crawford’s daughter, Kaia Gerber, plus Sophia and Scarlet Stallone (yep, their dad is Sylvester). You’ll end up following them all – and that’s no bad thing.

They really are BFFs

There’s no sibling rivalry here, as Delilah and Amelia do pretty much everything together, with Amelia calling her big sis “my best friend in the whole freaking world”.

We can’t wait to see them conquer it.

Image: Instagram/delilahbelle/Katie Edmunds

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

Your first love is super exciting, guys. The butterflies when they text back, the electric shock when they hold your hand, the first kiss, the lets-get-married-and-have-babies feeling you can’t suppress. It’s slushy and exciting and all-consuming. You want to spend time with your shiny new boyfriend 24/7, right? But if there’s one rule I can teach you early on in the game of love, it’s not to sideline your bff.

Sure, they can’t gaze into your eyes over a chocolate sundae and make you melt inside and out, but they were there at the beginning of this wild romance, and they’ll be there at the end. Unless the married-and-have-babies thang comes true, in which case they’ll be right by your side at the wedding anyways, because CHIEF BRIDESMAID.

The first rule: it doesn’t have to be bff vs boyfriend. You might not be able to recreate Monica and Chandler’s super-cute r’ship with their pals in Friends (unless you’ve all been besties at school since day one) but there’s no harm in merging groups. Why can’t your girls and his guys come together in a big ball of joy and love? The answer is: they can. Just don’t be too PDA in public. There’s absolutely no fun to be had watching two people play tonsil tennis in the corner of Maccy D’s for three straight hours. Trust me, I’ve been there. Also, I’m pretty sure tongue exhaustion is a legit condition.

Next, mate dates. Make time to hang with your best friend and do not, I repeat, do not invite your new boyfriend along. Those few hours hanging out in your bedroom together trying out the latest braids or strolling round the shopping centre catching up on school goss are precious. Treat them with respect. Your boyfriend has no place here so tell him you’re a sassy, independent woman that needs some girl time.

Another rule to revise and memorise forever: if you’re on a mate date, PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. I’m just gonna say it – it’s not nice if you’re ‘there’ but not really there. It can make your friend feel unimportant and second best if your hang-out consists of her sitting in silence while you send 196 WhatsApp messages to your boyf. Turn your phone on silent, pop it in your bag and gaze into her eyes over a chocolate sundae.

The lesson? You’ll always need your best friend to confide in so don’t cut them out. Whether you need a moan about the new ‘moustache’ your boyfriend’s trying out (bum-fluff is not a good look, guys) or a big, ugly cry at the fact he likes his computer games more than you, your bestie will always be there for you. Because friends are for life, not just for killing time between crushes…

@missblackmore

Image: Clueless

CRAP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. Am. So. ALOOOOOOONE.

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

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

Joint weddings – are they a thing?

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

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

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

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

Wait, what if he hates me?

What if I hate HIM?

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

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

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

@clare_finney

Image: Mean Girls

I am a sucker for romance. I have watched pretty much every two-and-a-half star romantic comedy there is. I’ve pined along with Elizabeth for Mr Darcy, even though I still think he’s a grumpy arsehole. I’m the first person my friends call when they have a new crush because I know all the right moments to ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ at their story. 

So it wasn’t exactly surprising that in the early years of being a teenager I fancied my friends’ older brothers. Not just one of my friends’ – I fancied ALL of their older brothers.

I didn’t discriminate on anything so trivial as age or appearance or sexual orientation. If you were my friend between the ages of 10 and 15 and you had an older brother, I fancied him. There is literally no exception to this rule.

I went to an all girls’ school from 12 to 15, or what I refer to as ‘The Oestrogen Years’. While other girls in my school would go to dances on Friday nights and meet boys, I went to debating and ate chips in the park with my teammates. On the bus home from school, other girls would flirt with the boys at the back of the bus, while I would sing loudly along to 90s songs with one of my friends.

I was scared of boys I didn’t know. My tongue would go thick in my mouth and I would end up shouting at them by mistake.

But my friends’ brothers? They were boys I knew. I saw them on a semi-regular basis, but never had to spend time with them one-on-one, which as far as I was concerned was the ideal amount of interaction.

My friends would drop crumbs of information about them – they liked maths, they went to see the new Star Wars movie, they were allergic to yoghurt – that I would feverishly collect with the same enthusiasm most people reserve for actual hobbies. I would use these pieces of information to adapt my daydreams of our eventual relationship to ones that included Yoda or excluded Yeo Valley.

Naturally, I had elaborate fantasies about how our relationship would go.

I imagined watching a movie, something funny and probably featuring Owen Wilson, when his arm subtly started edging closer to mine. The completely wonderful and secret kissing, where our teeth would never, ever, knock together. The conversation with my friend who would give me her complete blessing because she knew I was excellent and her brother was excellent and she wanted us both to be excellent together. Obviously.

I imagined the declaration of love that would make me weak in the knees. The eventual Loss Of Virginity. The wedding, where of course my friend would be my maid of honour and make a hilarious, yet deeply moving speech about how we were meant for each other.

I’m almost certain these boys had no idea I existed. A fact that one of them confirmed when I did eventually kiss him, a few years after I emerged from my obsessive bubble.

“When did you start fancying me?” I asked, hoping he would reveal that he had been pining for me for years. That my obsession with him wasn’t one-sided, but rather completely requited.

“I dunno,” he replied. “When you got hot?”

Yep, he was a regular Casanova. This answer was also unhelpful in a myriad of ways.

Firstly, it implies I wasn’t always hot. Which is obviously false. Secondly, even if I wasn’t hot (which I was), my personality is rockin’. How dare he overlook my passion for US politics, my weakness for videos of unlikely animal friends and my admirable loyalty to both of these topics throughout all the years he’s known me? Thirdly, it gives me no clear time line. Lastly, it was wildly unromantic and not at all like the script I had prepared in my head.

Being in love with your friends’ brothers can be difficult. Especially when you’re in love with eight of them simultaneously. And in real life, it might not work out anything like in your head. But hey, a girl can still dream.

We’ve mentioned volunteering quite a bit at betty, but we’ve never actually properly explained how to volunteer, or why you should in the first place.

So, here we are: betty’s guide to the wonderful world of volunteering!

I mean, why would I WANT to volunteer?

It’s a very good question. Why WOULD you want to volunteer when it takes up a lot of your time and you don’t even get paid for it? Well, here are just a few benefits we can think of:

– You’re supporting others or a cause in need
– You’ll make a bunch of cool friends
– You’ll learn loads of skills for free
– You can even get qualifications for free!
– You can learn a lot about yourself, what you love and what you’re good at
– You can even volunteer FROM HOME?!
– It looks bloody great on your CV
– It can even lead to a permanent job

Happy Wednesday! ☀️🌟✨

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That actually sounds cool. But is it super serious like a job?

Nope! It doesn’t have to be. Fair enough, you often have to formally dedicate a certain amount of hours when you volunteer, but that’s only so the charity or organisation can keep a track of who’s doing what when, and so they know just how dedicated you will be (very dedicated, because you are obviously awesome).

But because it’s voluntary work and therefore you aren’t getting paid for your time, you aren’t bound into a life or death contract. We promise. If you find the role isn’t for you, that’s totally ok. You can let them know and pull out.

That’s fair enough. So where can I find these volunteering roles?

Another very good question. It’s all well and good saying GO AND VOLUNTEER but, um, where do you start?! Thankfully, there are a couple of great websites that cater exactly to this need:

Do-it is a wonderfully simple platform to find the best volunteering opportunities for you. They allow you to filter your search down to even ‘volunteering from home’ opportunities (yeah, they exist, we told you!) and is a super easy website to use.

We love to share your volunteering stories to inspire others! Email hello@do-it.org to get involved ✌️

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vInspired is a charity helping 14 – 25 year olds get into volunteering. You can filter your search right down and, if you can’t find the thing you’re passionate about, they can even help you set up your own voluntary project! Pretty badass.

Volunteering Matters focuses more on the importance of volunteering in your local community to support the most vulnerable. Look at their Instagram – everyone’s having SUCH A GOOD TIME.

And here are some charities (and, um, search engines…) who are looking for brilliant young people like you…

The Mix is a charity supporting under 25s in the UK and a lot of their services rely on volunteers. As they’re passionate about peer-to-peer support, a lot of their opportunities are 16+ AND they offer those sweet, free qualifications. We’ve heard they get pizza in during their training sessions too. Just saying.

parkrun isn’t just for those who like running. The weekly, free, timed 5k runs all over the UK wouldn’t exist without volunteers. Literally – they organise the whole thing! There are a number of roles available, you’ll make a load of friends, and be so stupendously inspired by all the different people who take part.

Girlguiding offers volunteering opportunities for those still in school and beyond. Thought Girlguiding was old-fashioned and embarrassing? WRONG. Girlguiding has grown into a strong, feminist, modern movement and GOD we wish we could go back and join them.

Google. Apols for being basic, but you can always just search for opportunities in your local area. There will always be something available, from volunteering in schools to volunteering in parks and green spaces.

Also, don’t forget big events! Huge sporting events like the Olympics always rely on hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, so it’s always worth searching their official websites. It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something incredible.

I feel like you have something else to say…

YES. Sorry. I’m passionate, ok.

Volunteering doesn’t just stop at the end of your volunteering shift. When you’re a volunteer, you should just want to help and support people, causes, and organisations full stop. And opportunities could come at you at any moment.

After the tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, hundreds and hundreds of people came out to volunteer their time and donate clothes, bedding, and toiletries etc to those affected. That included young people, too. We were pretty inspired and motivated (and emotional) at the video below of the human chain of teenagers volunteering to help.

We’re not saying you have to go out and volunteer after every tragedy like this – sometimes it can be dangerous, and you definitely shouldn’t wander down on your own without an adult – but often you can feel useless after something horrible happens, so it’s always worth seeing if there’s something you can do, however small, to help.

Alright, you’ve persuaded me. I’m going to volunteer!

YAAAAAAS. We’re proud of you. Go forth and do good. The world needs you.

@louisejonesetc

Whether you’ve already started your period or you’re waiting to come on for the first time, it’s a different experience for everyone – and one we love talking about. So we caught up with the brightest babes on Instagram, Confetti Crowd, who told us all about their first periods…