Although it can affect both girls and boys of any age, scoliosis is usually diagnosed around the time of puberty and is much more common in girls. It’s not rare, but despite this it might not be on your radar. How much do you actually know about the condition, huh?

Well first off, scoliosis isn’t a disease or something that can be caught. It’s when the spine curves into an “s”, “c” or “?” shape, rather than growing straight.

And there are a few different types of scoliosis. It can be there at birth, a curve can appear in young children at anytime between the ages of 0-10, or the growth spurt around the age of puberty can cause what’s called “adolescent idiopathic scoliosis” (AIS). The word “idiopathic” means there is no specific reason why this happens.

Other types of scoliosis can occur because of a condition like cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Scheuermann’s kyphosis.

So, what are the symptoms of scoliosis?

There are a few telltale signs of scoliosis. These include one shoulder blade sitting higher than the other, or sticking out more than the other, uneven hips, a rotating or twisted spine, clothes not fitting well, back pain and sometimes problems with breathing.

Is it common?

Yes actually, it’s waaay more common than you’d think. In fact there are plenty of celebs that have spoken out about their experience of scoliosis with the aim of throwing a spotlight on this condition and raising awareness. Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 12, Descendants and The Fault In Our Stars actress Shailene Woodley wore a back brace for two years to treat her scoliosis, and Victoria’s Secret model Martha Hunt uses her fame to talk openly about life with the condition, in a bid to help other girls.

The most surprising scoliosis sufferer though is the fastest man in the world – Usain Bolt. He’s certainly not let the scoliosis slow him down and has spoken out about the importance of exercising to develop a strong back and core when you have the condition. He said in an interview, “When I was younger it wasn’t really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine’s really curved bad but if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn’t really bother me. So I don’t have to worry about it as long as I work hard.”

How is it diagnosed?

The Scoliosis Association (UK) say that along with recognising the above symptoms, your doctor might do the forward bend test if they think you have scoliosis. This is where you bend forward from the waist, keeping your legs and arms straight and the doctor takes a good look at the back and shoulder area from behind. If scoliosis is present, a clear bulge on one side of the back where the ribs are will be visible.

How is it treated?

If your doctor spots scoliosis, they’ll refer you to a scoliosis specialist for treatment. An X-ray will determine if the curve has developed for no reason or if there are other problems with the small bones that make up the spine.

The types of treatment offered can differ from teenager to teenager, depending on the severity of condition so far. A “watch and wait” approach might be taken, with close monitoring every six months to check the curve isn’t getting worse, or a brace might be used to correct the curve over time while the body is still growing. With this option a lightweight, plastic brace will be fitted to the body to be worn either full-time, or a specified amount of hours during the day.

If the condition develops quickly, surgery might be recommended to correct the curve. Surgery for AIS is called spinal fusion. The Scoliosis Association explains that, “spinal fusion uses metal implants (screws, wires, and/or hooks) that are attached to the vertebrae in your spine and then connected to a single rod or to two rods. During the operation bone graft is placed over the implants. These implants and rods are used to hold the spine in place until it can fuse itself. Over a period of about 12 months, this bone graft grows together with the existing bone in your spine and forms a solid column of bone in that area.” It sounds scary, but it’s a common operation and once recovered, you’re able to return to sport and activities as usual.

Where can I find out more about scoliosis?

The Scoliosis Association has tons of useful information on the condition. They can also offer support if you’ve just been diagnosed and put you in touch with other people in a similar situation to you.

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

Legally, if someone has given consent then it means that they agreed to do something by choice and that they had the freedom or the capacity to make that choice. For someone to give consent they have to be able to say “yes!” but it’s just as important that they are able to say “no”.

So, what does it all mean?

Usually people talk about consent when they’re talking about sex, but it actually applies to a lot of things – kissing, cuddling, touching, sharing or storing sexy photos and videos, the whole lot. Not everything, though. The law doesn’t care if you don’t consent to doing your homework or tidying your room. 

Right, that’s easy. It’s all about choice. Got it. I’m going to go back to watc…

Not so fast. It might seem simple, but in practice it can be a bit more complicated. For example, someone might say “yes” to doing something because they’re too scared of what will happen if they say “no” – it could be argued that they chose to say yes, but if they felt like they didn’t have a choice then it’s not really consent.

There are also complications when you add in things like alcohol and drugs. If someone is too drunk or stoned to be classed as being in their right mind, then they’re not in the position to make big decisions and so they can’t consent. There’s obviously a difference from being a little bit giggly (like Auntie Sheila on the sherry at Christmas) and being so drunk you’re unable to give consent, but knowing where that line is can be tricky. 

I know. Complicated, right? They never had to worry about stuff like this on Friends.

So what if consent isn’t there? 

If any of the things mentioned – kissing, cuddling, touching, sharing or storing sexy photos and videos and actually having sex – happen without the full and joyful consent of both parties, then it’s defined by the law as sexual assault or rape.

To protect yourself and the people you’re crushing on, it’s really important to make sure that before you do any of this you make sure that you, and everyone involved, have full consent. 

How do I know if I’ve got consent?

Well, the best way is to just ask! Knowing that you have and giving consent is all about communication. Start with non-verbal communication, i.e. body language – is the person interested and going along with what you’re doing, or are they freezing up and pushing you away. But then body language can only take you so far, so ask questions like “Is this ok?” and “Do you like this?”.

And if it seems too embarrassing to ask a potential pash things like this? Sorry to get lecturey on you, but if you’re not comfortable enough to talk to someone about snogging then you probably shouldn’t be snogging them. 

So, when do I know if I have consent? If we’re in a relationship?

Even if you’re in a relationship, you/they don’t automatically have consent. Even if you’ve been dating someone for ten years, you don’t automatically get consent! And you’re are able to withdraw it at any time. Even mid-snog, if you want to. 

What about if they said ‘no’ initially, but I kept asking and then they said ‘yes’?

Nope. Think back to what we said earlier – feeling able to say “no” is just as important as saying “yes”. If someone has pressured you into saying yes, then you’re not really consenting of your own free will, are you?

Also, er, no one should do this. It’s not the basis for a healthy relationship and is generally not cool. Not cool at all.

When else do I not have automatic consent?

When someone is unconscious or asleep, even if they gave consent beforehand. When someone is being super super flirty – they may well give you consent, but flirting doesn’t guarantee it. Nor does revealing clothing, the fact you’re already kissing, the fact someone said “yes” initially but then changed their mind, or the fact that haven’t explicitly said “no”. A good rule of thumb is that if either party doesn’t seem into it, you should just stop. 

And don’t forget, if you’re under 16 you can’t consent even if you’re awake, happy and in your right mind – because the law considers you too young. Soz. 

So when do I or they have consent?

When you’re both in your right minds, both comfortable with each other, both saying “yes” to whatever you’re doing, both eager and happy to do it and would both feel safe to say “no” and ask the other person to stop at any time. 

We know it sounds complicated, but it’s really not scary and the best thing about it is that the same rules protect you too. It’s really important to remember that you don’t have to do anything that you’re not 100% happy and comfortable doing.

What should I do if I think I’ve had situations where I didn’t give my consent?

Firstly, whatever happened, it’s not your fault. Secondly, talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to an adult, teacher or parent, you could always try a friend. If you don’t even feel comfortable talking about it with a friend yet, you can always talk to Childline for free confidential advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

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


Are you feeling a little clumsier than usual? Finding yourself tripping over cracks in the pavement, doormats, your own stupid feet? Don’t worry, you haven’t just woken up one day with the coordination of a baby deer. It’s probably just because you’ve grown a few inches instead.

During adolescence, girls can grow at a rate of up to 8cm per year. That’s the length of an iPhone 6. Or a £20 note. Or Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix stacked on top of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Am I going to be a towering giantess?

It’s hard to say definitively how tall you’ll grow to be, but your height is largely decided by your parents. Your parents’ heights, that is – they didn’t get to fill out a request form. If you have tall parents, you might want to take up basketball. If your parents are on the shorter side, a glowing career as a gymnast or jockey might await you. Or not. Point is, there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ height – they all have their pros and cons.

If you’re on the smaller size of things, you will always have more legroom on planes, you will never hit your head on doorframes and you can shop in Topshop’s Petite section. If you’re on the taller side of things, you will always be able to reach the top shelf in the supermarket, you might be effortlessly good at the high jump in PE, and you can shop in Topshop’s Tall section. And medium height? Well, Topshop might sell out of 32″ jeans quicker, but at least you’ll never have to grit your teeth while aunties comment on your remarkable stature over Sunday dinner.

How does it work?

Your hands and feet are the first things to grow, so next time you feel your shoes pinching, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re going to have a growth spurt in the not-too-distant future.

Next come your arms and legs, and then your spine. Finally, your hips and pelvis widen, making you less likely to blow over in the wind.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Your height is closely linked to your parents' heights. But tall, short and everything in between is beautiful – so embrace it.
  • Often during your teenage years, growth spurts happen so quickly that your brain struggles to keep up. Hence the tripping over.
  • Growth spurts are often triggered during puberty as the levels of testosterone rise in both boys and girls.
  • Girls generally grow their fastest at 12-13 and tend to finish growing around 18, while boys grow their fastest between 14 and 15 and finish growing around 20.

Often during your teenage years growth spurts happen so quickly that your brain struggles to keep up. Hence the tripping. Your centre of gravity is changing so rapidly that your brain is having to calculate new rules for balancing, like, all the time.

Some people also experience growing pains, which can feel like an intense, cramp-like pain in your legs. Like owls, witches and vampires they generally only come out at night, and will have disappeared by the morning.  

Why now?

Growth spurts are often triggered during puberty as levels of the hormone testosterone rise in both boys and girls. This chemical also causes sexual organs (willies, vaginas, those guys) to develop, which is why these two things often happen at once. It’s kinda like a biological version of synchronised swimming. But not really.

When will it stop?

Girls generally grow at their fastest rate at 12-13 and tend to finish growing around 18. On average, boys grow their fastest between 14 and 15 and finish growing around 20.

So hold onto your hats ladies, we’ve got some growin’ (and tripping over inanimate objects) to do! But whatever height you end up, work it. Every inch of you is A++. 

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

It happens to the best of us – we fill our drawers, bags, pockets and cabinets with everything we need to prepare for our periods, but every so often we get caught out, just because it’s a couple of days early, we’re not at home and we’re wearing the wrong coat. Here’s what goes through our minds, once we’ve finished silently screaming “Noooooooo!”

1. WHY? Why am I so disorganised? My life would be so different if I remembered, and got up before 7AM to make healthy lunch salads, and liked herbal tea more than hot chocolate, and meditated. Why don’t I sew them inside the lining of my jacket? Like they probably did during the war?

2. Actually, what did they use during war time? Were they rationed?

3. Were they…knitted? I suppose they’d be quite easy to knit. You’d unpick your husband’s suits, while he was away fighting, making do, being brave on the home front…

4. Urghhhh. The chafing, though.

5. It’s probably not long until we can have them airlifted to us, by drone, the second we need them. I am not disorganised. I am merely evolving slightly ahead of technology.

6. Still, that would be a bit awkward, the sound of a very noisy drone flying overhead while you’re in the loo. Although the person pooing in the next cubicle might be grateful.

7. I can picture the lovely tampons in my bathroom. A whole, fresh packet, singing with availability and newness! Maybe I can teleport one here using the power of my mind. Like Matilda.

8. So I am not Matilda. Still, it is better to be slightly uncomfortable and not have magical powers than to have superhuman abilities, horrible parents and a headmistress who might lock me in a spiky cupboard.

9. Imagine getting your period in The Chokey. The period would probably be frightened back into your uterus.

10. I really fancy some of Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake, though.

11. It’s OK, I just need to do a crab scuttle to the toilets and use wadded up loo roll. Although didn’t that girl from Year 11 have a cousin who did that at a festival and got toxic shock syndrome?

12. Oh, no, she was the one who had six cans of Red Bull and tried to run up the side of a Portaloo.

13. I wonder whether I should get special knickers that would absorb the period, for emergencies like this.

14. Or a commode, like a Queen. If men had periods, Henry VIII would have invented something long ago that meant no-one had to get up or move for the entire week.

15. I’ll just check my pocket. I have 19 Polos, from six different packets, some old tissues and a broken bit of key ring.

16. Oooh, and a lip balm!

17. I don’t remember this lip balm, the packaging feels a bit odd. Actually, it feels a bit like…

18. Ah. Ahahahahahahaha! I knew I wasn’t that disorganised!

19. Quite glad I didn’t ruin the lining of my jacket, now I think about it.

@NotRollergirl

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

Wait a second… what is that smell? Oh crap, it’s me. That stink is me. Now what? Keep my arms stuck to my sides and hope nobody notices? Create a makeshift shower in the school loos? GAH.

Don’t worry girl, we’ve all been there. That dreaded moment when B.O. unexpectedly rears its head. Whether it’s at school, at the shopping centre or on a date, there’s no great time to unleash that lovely musk on the world but it’s important to remember it’s perfectly natural.

Here’s the DL on what the heck it is, how you know if you’ve got it and how to get rid.

What actually *is* B.O.?

Right, it’s time to get technical. B.O. or body odour (or bromhidrosis if you want to get an A* in Science) is the musky smell that’s produced by the bacteria on the skin that breaks down the acids in your sweat. This particular stench comes from the apocrine glands that are mainly found in your pits. It’s fair to say sweat isn’t the most glamorous part of becoming a woman, but unfortunately it’s pretty unavoidable.

So, why do I get it?

B.O. can deffo make you feel self conscious but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Sweaty sistas unite. Anyone who has hit puberty (so basically all of us RN) can produce B.O. as this is when those apocrine sweat glands we were talking about earlier, develop. According to research, puberty typically begins between the ages of 8 and 14 in girls, and hormonal changes in the body are to blame for pretty much everything – including good old B.O.

Don’t fret, just because you’re in your teens and a ball of hormones that doesn’t mean you’re going to have smelly, sweaty pits 24/7. However, there are deffo times when B.O. is more likely to crop up: if you’re nervous or stressed, if you’ve eaten spicy food, if you’re on medication such as antidepressants or if you’re poorly.

Hang on, how do I even know if I have it?

B.O. has a few telltale symptoms. Look out for yellowish stains in the armpits of your clothes and smell them after you’ve worn them once – if they’re ponging then you’re probably suffering. If you’re still not sure if you have body odour or just a really funky perfume, it’s best to speak to someone you can trust: your mum, your sister, one of your besties. They can tell you honestly without judgement.

How can I get rid of it?

The good news? Managing B.O. is totally easy. Phew! By simply upping your personal hygiene routine you can combat the stench once and for all. As you get older it’s important to take a warm bath or shower every day washing your armpits with an antibacterial soap. After that you should apply a deodorant or antiperspirant to keep you smelling fresh all day long.

There are loads of good high-street antiperspirants that specialise in keeping the sweat demons at bay. Look for ones that include aluminium chloride – this reduces the amount of sweat produced by your body. (Roll-ons tend to be best if you sweat heavily.) You can also get a variety of ‘natural deodorants’ which are often better for more sensitive souls. We love Native Unearthed natural deodorant, FYI!

While B.O. is totally normal when you’re growing up (and when you get older, tbf), it’s important to keep an eye on your pits. Excessive sweating and a change in your body odour could be an indication of a more serious sweat condition. Speak to your GP if you’re concerned about your clammy pits but just remember not to sweat the small stuff. B.O. happens to the best of us and girl, it’s seriously no biggie.

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

Oh, spots. You enigmas.

We can squeeze you, prod you and ignore you – but we just wish we could understand you. If we could only sit down for a good heart-to-heart, here are a few of the burning questions we might ask.

1. “Why?”

The first word that springs to mind the moment you catch sight of the monster staring belligerently at you in the mirror. Just why, you ask desperately – and for a while, this bleak three-lettered word is really all you can think. Facts about sebaceous glands, stress and hormones can’t reason with it.

But eventually the blind panic subsides into more nuanced questions like…

2. “Why me?”

It’s hard to answer. Spots are caused by all sorts of complex reasons – see above – but if there’s one thing we can assure you of, it is not because the universe hates you. It seems that way right now, but this has everything to do with chemicals that everyone has – and nothing whatsoever to do with you personally.

Pimples (a slightly more technical term for the little terrors) appear when oil-producing glands become clogged and infected. This could be hormones causing you to produce more oil; it could because your fingers or a hat or scarf you’ve been wearing has been irritating your face. It’s unlikely to be a product – most are tested for that these days – and probably not your diet either, whatever certain people in your family and friendship circles might tell you.

3. “Why now?”

Because, hormones. They’ve the starring roles in the film Period – and if you’re feeling them, chances are it’s heading to a cinema near you shortly. Testosterone levels are generally higher in puberty, and as that’s believed to increase oil production, it means you could get spots any time. Rest assured this has nothing to do with the fact you’ve a date tomorrow night, and it doesn’t mean said date is automatically doomed either.

4. “Are you as obvious to other people as you are in my head?”

Is Vesuvius erupting on your forehead? Is there real lava and people running away you screaming? Then no, he (spots are always he) isn’t.

Other people probably haven’t even noticed it. But that won’t stop you capturing every conceivable angle another human could see your face at in the mirror and on your phone camera, and begging friends, “but what about the south south west-facing aspect of my chin??”, of course.

volcano

5. “When will you make for good pick?”

Officially, of course, the answer to this is ‘never’. But we know that no sooner has the offending spot appeared than you are assessing his fitness for picking: prodding and stroking, dreaming of past victories, and comparing their colour and feel. Weirdly – grossly –  it’s actually a very similar process to that of feeling if a fruit is ripe: you will know innately when the moment comes. The challenge is holding off until it then. Strike too soon, and you’ll blow your chances of great picking for good.

6. “Why did you pretend to be ready when you weren’t?”

He looked so promising and pickable! Now he’s just a messy, painful blob. Ow. Liar.

7. “Can I hide you?”

The sensible seventh question one can only arrive at having wailed one’s way through the first six – to which the answer is that it varies according to the spot you have. If you leave him bare, he will heal quicker – but provided the spot is not, in the least gross possible way, leaking, then if you want to cover up with some concealer (or a big scarf) go for it. Just ensure you choose your product wisely…

scarf

8. “Why the hell won’t you just stay covered?” 

In short, not all concealers are born equal. Indeed, some are so ineffective they succeed in creating more of a blemish than the one they’re supposed to be concealing: all too vividly do I remember one teacher telling me that I had “a splodge of mud, dear, on the centre of your chin.”

So do your research: ask friends, family, magazines, the woman at the make up counter, what they recommend for your blemishes. You’ll cut not just the amount of time you have a spot, but the amount you spend checking, and thinking about checking, and – after you have checked – obsessing about the way the spot is blooming though your cloudy concealer like a full moon.

9. “How long are you here for?”

You beg to know, every single time you meet it in the mirror. There is no clear answer, but one’s thing for certain: the longer you pick, prod and fill him with rubbish concealer, the longer you’ll be having this conversation. Like so many bullies, the best way to deal with a spot is to not engage.

10. “Is this it for the rest of my life?”

Now for the good news. Though you will probably run into the odd one from time to time, once puberty’s done and dusted the most offending spots will plague your younger siblings (who’s laughing now, brother?) and leave your skin in peace.

peace

See ya, tiny pal. So glad we had this chat.

@finney_clare

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

I was nine when I started my first period. Nine.

I was so young I was still making up dance routines in the playground and absent-mindedly picking my nose in public, but then one day the puberty gods decided I would be plucked from my innocent childhood and made to menstruate.

It was a weekend. I was sat on the upstairs loo while my mum hung out washing on the landing. I wiped after doing my business and there it was on the tissue: blood.

It wasn’t bright red like the normal blood I’d seen when I’d fallen over and grazed my knees. This was darker and definitely not wee, so it had to be my period. I pulled up my knickers, flushed the chain and walked out of the bathroom. “Mum, I think I’ve started my period,” I announced.

My mum did what any normal mum would do when a nine-year-old announces she’s bleeding from her vagina: she freaked out. Dropping the bed sheet she was folding, she hopped from one foot to another, spluttering, “OK… um… right… OK… um”. I shrugged, walked past coolly and reassured: “It’s alright, mum. I know what to do.”

I was too young to have had sex education at school, but luckily my mum had been spotting signs that my period was on the hormonal horizon. While she may have been useless on the day (bless her), she’d been super organised beforehand and prepared me for aunt Flo’s imminent arrival.

She later told me she’d noticed a white discharge appearing in my knickers when she did the washing, which is a sure sign your first period is about to start. (BTW: regular discharge is totally normal and part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It’s not gross and is nothing to be ashamed of. Find out more about it here.)

So when my period came, my mum had already given me “the talk”. She had put sanitary towels in my knicker drawer and performed an extremely detailed demonstration of how to stick a white-winged sanitary pad into the gusset of my age 9-10 knickers.

By the time I went back to school on Monday, I was a period pro. I skipped into the school playground with a packet of Always tucked away inside my backpack and that was that. The world kept turning and nothing really changed.

After a phone call from my mum, the school made a few changes to accommodate the “more mature” girls in my class (which is code for “those with boobs”). We got changed in the toilets for PE instead of the classroom, we could go to the loo in the middle of a lesson and we knew where the secret stash of sanitary products were.

People feel sorry for me for having “grown up so fast”, but in reality I was remarkably unfazed by the arrival of aunt Flo.

Puberty is a slow and steady experience for girls, unlike boys who seem to sprout overnight and get reaaaaally deeeeeep vooooooices all of a sudden. So I was used to “growing up”. I had boobs – not budding nipples but actual breasts that needed a bra – and had discovered my first pubes a year before.

Maybe I was too young to feel that shame and embarrassment that a lot of girls feel when they start their period. I was more interested in cartoons than how I looked, what boys thought of me or what was happening to my body. If anything I’m happy that I started so young, it meant that when my friends started I was a dab hand and could help them out.

Periods aren’t always easy, of course: sometimes you leak blood onto bed sheets or your pants (which is really easy to wash with cold water), the pain can be excruciating (hot water bottles are your friend) and it makes swimming awkward (you can still go, just wear a tampon and change it when you get out – you don’t want a wet string dripping in your undies).

I’d recommend using a period tracker app to log pain, flow and moods, so you know what is normal for your body. That way if you are worried or notice anything unusual speak to an adult you trust. The most powerful thing you can do for your health as a woman is get to know yourself.

But for the most part, you, like the other half of the population who menstruate, will be just fine. And if a nine-year-old can do it, I’m sure you can too.

@Brogan_Driscoll

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

Ladies, you can do anything you want. Want to be an astronaut? You got this. Want to be a DJ? Sure thing. Want to breed puppies so that you have a constant stream of puppies to cuddle? THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD.

Want to go for a swim when you’re on your period? Dive right on in.

Seriously?

Seriously. If you feel comfortable going for a dip when you’re on your period, there’s no reason why you can’t.

It’s actually an awesome idea, because exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce the fatigue and cramps that sometimes come as an unwanted side order to your monthly visit from the uterus unicorn.

What if I TURN THE WHOLE POOL RED?

Ok, this is where tampons come in handy. Lots of people try them for the first time in order to go swimming, because they’re really the easiest way to prevent leaks. Just swap it for a new, dry one in once you’re out of the water. Bombs away!  

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • You can abso-freakin-loutely go swimming when you’re on your period. You might actually find that it helps reduce aches, pains and argghs.
  • Your best bet is to use a tampon while swimming, to keep leaks at bay.
  • If tampons are a no-go, try a menstrual cup – but pads aren’t your pal at the pool. Sorry!

But if you’re strictly a pad person, things can be a bit tricker. Pads are designed to absorb fluids, so wearing one in the water means it’ll become soggy pretty quickly, and won’t be able to do its job properly – or stay stuck to your bikini bottoms either.

So it’s tampons or nothing?

Keep your cossie on for the moment, because there are some other options.

If you don’t fancy tampons you could try a menstrual cup, which is inserted in the vagina and captures the blood rather than absorbing it. You just empty it out in the loo every few hours, and pop it back up.  

Or if your period is light and you’re happy to go with the flow, you could try wearing a dark coloured swimming costume to hide any small leaks or stains. Don’t believe people who tell you your period stops in water – that’s a big ol’ myth – but it’s true that many people find they can have a quick dip with no disasters.

BUT WHAT ABOUT SHARKS?

Nope, total lie. They can’t smell your period, we promise. (And especially not in a leisure centre in the Midlands).

So in conclusion: just because you’re riding the crimson wave, doesn’t mean you can’t play in the actual waves too. Pool party, anyone?

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

Girls, it’s time to talk about bras. Whether you call them over-the-shoulder boulder holders, boob baskets or (my personal fave) knocker lockers, getting to know your way around the bad boys can be a daunting task.

One in three women are wearing the wrong bra size fyi, so chin up girl because you’re not in this one alone. I’ll be the first to admit that I often walk into fancy lingerie shops and walk straight back out again, overwhelmed. I can barely get to grips with sizing, let alone shapes and styles. But fear not, for we have devised your busty bible, here to help you pick the perfect bra!

First, let’s get the facts. According to fancy undies retailer Rigby & Peller, 70% of us would rather wear an old grey bra which feels like a second skin than splash out on a new bra that turns out to be uncomfortable. We kinda get this one.

Also, it turns out that boobs change size on a monthly basis (there’s us thinking we were stuck with the same size melons forever), so although it may seem like a faff, having a yearly bra-size test is half an hour well spent. Why? Because a bra that actually fits means better posture, better fitting clothes and comfort. Oh, and sometimes a purse.

But before we get talking about fit, we need to break down some of the crazy myths surrounding boobs and bras. Jene Luciani, author of the Bra Book, gives us the DL…

Bras can be washed once a month

Na-uh hunny. “The dirt and oil in our skin can break down the elasticity of the bra,” explains Jene. It’s best to hand wash your bras as often as possible and leave them out to air-dry, this will ensure they stay in good shape for longer. Sure, homework gets in the way of basically all chores but we’ve got a solution: add more bras to your stash.

Bras can endanger your health

This myth is regularly discussed in the female community and apparently all stemmed from a survey taken waaaay before you lot were born. However Jene says “there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim.” So don’t fret it sister, your booby basket is totally safe.

Sleeping in a bra makes your boobs perkier

This one divides the masses but unfortunately girls, it’s a legit myth. The only time a bra can help reduce the inevitable sag? “When exercising and breasts are significantly stretching or bouncing up and down,” reveals Jene. Now onto the basics…

When will I need a bra?

There are no rules when it comes to your first bra – it’s all about when and what feels right for you. While the stats say the average age is 11 years old, you might not need or want one, or you might have been rocking them since your breast buds exploded onto your chest at the age of 8.

“Comfort is the main reason for buying a first bra, as breasts develop and get bigger they can feel tender and sometimes a little painful,” explains bra expert Sophie Law. So if you’re starting to feel aware or conscious of your boobs, maybe it’s time to go for your first fitting.

What sort of bra should I get?

You’ve decided it’s time to get your first bra. Dun dun dun… only joking, it’s chill babes. Finding the right bra is a trial and error process. For your first bra it’s best to go for something comfy so hit the shops and find what works for you.

And if you’re still totally stuck, take a look at this guide by Little Women – a lingerie brand especially designed for smaller boobs and first bras (remember, this is just a guide and not the rulebook of all boobs and bras).

After deciding that a balconette is SO YOU, you need to get down to the nitty gritty of finding your size. When it comes to first bra fittings, it’s probably best to visit a store. (And don’t worry it’s not as embarrassing as it sounds.) Good old M&S is always a safe place to start. They offer free consultations and have a great range of first bras. Plus, your mum will probably pay for it…

If Marks and Sparks isn’t on the agenda and you’re going to brave the shops by yourself, we’ve got two big tips that can help…

The boob scoop

Apparently this maneuver a legit method of checking whether a bra fits correctly. Fasten the back, dip your hand into the cup and literally scoop your boob up into the cup. This will ensure that the underwire sits properly and should make the bra a whole lot more comfortable. If your bra is gaping at the top it’s too big, if your boobs are spilling over the top it’s too small. Easy as that!

The middle hook

Make sure you’re always trying bras on using the middle hook at the back. If it feels comfy on this setting then it’s a good fit for you. The underband should fit snugly and should not ride up. I’d recommend a bit of jogging or some sort of on the spot exercise at this point. Although not scientifically proven, I’ve been a victim of taking a seemingly perfect bra home to find that it doesn’t fit when doing normal life activities, such as moving.

Hang on, what if my boobs are different sizes?

“We like to say that they’re sisters, not twins,” says lingerie designer Ra’el Cohen. “Very few women have perfect and symmetrical breasts.”

WE KNEW IT! Turns out the boulder babes are meant to be unique in their own right. Phew. The general rule is to always buy a bra to fit your bigger boob. It’s sizest, we know, but it’s better to have a little extra room than a nipple that keeps escaping every five minutes.

Remember, bras are just a part of puberty, you’ll get to grips with them eventually. Whether you choose to wear one or not (it is the 21st century, after all). The most important thing? You do you, hun.

Illustration: Katie Edmunds

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

Ah, love. It’s a tricky bastard. Love means a million different things to a million different people, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if what you’re feeling is true love, intense like, a raging crush or just the first twinges of indigestion.

But sometimes, you just know. Shakespeare had his summer’s day, Jane Austen had her country dances… and we have the moment you decide to share your Netflix password. Here are some 2017 signs that you’re probably, definitely, in love.

1. You let them take the stamp for your coffee on their loyalty card.

2. You actually put your phone down when they talk to you.

3. You offer them the last slice of pizza.

4. …then they say, ‘No, you have it.’

5. You agree to see La La Land for a second time, even though musicals make you want to punch things.

6. Even Snapchat knows you’re together and puts two pink hearts next to their name.

7. You can share a tent at a festival in August for a whole four days and still be speaking to them at the end.

8. They let you practice everything you learned from Dr Pimple Popper on their chin.

9. You’ve felt a strange and overwhelming urge to give them your wifi code.

10. There are more strips of adorable photobooth pictures in your purse than actual cards or money.

11. Every meme they tag you in actually makes you laugh, not just like to be polite.

12. You have Instagram notifications turned on for them, even if they’re a six-nearly-identical-blurry-selfies-at-once person. Even then.

13. They are the very first person you WhatsApp “SNOW!!!!! ❄️☃️❄️☃️” to when it snows.

14. And sad faces to when it turns to rain three minutes later.

15. You know their exact Starbucks order, and recite it faithfully even when it’s embarrassingly long.

16. You look at them the way everyone looks at Beyoncé.

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

Image: Getty

When it comes to puberty, there’s no ‘right time’ peeps. That being said if you’re the first of your girls to hit this hairy, moody, booby milestone, there’s a couple of things you will know all too well…

Oh hey boobs

Suddenly you’ve got ‘em and no one else does. In years to come you’ll cherish them, but for now they can feel a bit embarrassing, not to mention awkward when you’re trying to squeeze into your old tank tops. Or better yet, borrow a top off ANYONE. You’ve also now got to enter the confusing world of bras by yourself. What the actual? From measurements to straps to whatever the f a ‘balconette’ bra is, picking your first boulder-holder can be a bit of a stressful task. Don’t fret, just drag your mum to M&S. Their ‘Angel’ range will become your best friend.

Hang on, why am I literally wet with sweat?

While you may grow to love your boobs, sweat nuh-uh. Unfortunately this perfectly natural bodily function just comes with the territory. If you’re the first to hit puberty you’ll know the panic of smelling BO all too well (y’know, when you’re trying to subtly smell your own armpits in the classroom to check it’s not you, but it is you because no one else has hit puberty yet. GAH). Chill girl, BO or not, you’re still fabulous. Mini deodorants will save your life.

Well that hair wasn’t there before…

Another weird and wonderful part of becoming a woman is body hair. Legs, armpits, your vagina, heck maybe even a fuzzy little tash, hair suddenly sprouts from everywhere. Feel free to totally embrace it (it can feel pretty empowering), but if you’re into hair destruction, find the best way to suit you and your skin. Whether it’s waxing, hair removal or plain old shaving, there are plenty of ways to take down unwanted hair. Just remember, you’re your harshest critic, chances are nobody else even noticed.

Wow, I am suddenly the tallest in my squad

So, it’s got to the point where you have to say goodbye to your trusty jeans. They’re now ankle swingers and not in a ‘cool’ way. For the next few months your mates will be asking you to reach for stuff on the top shelf in the supermarket, but take comfort in knowing that this new height comes with a load of benefits – an excuse to update your wardrobe is deffo one of them.

Hmm, am I meant to be putting on weight?

“Filling out” (as your granny calls it) is another sign that you’re sky-rocketing towards womanhood. Embrace it. You’ll be the first of your friends to nail Beyoncé’s latest moves, plus it’s actually a sign that you’re super-healthy and your body is growing and changing with time. So ignore the scales and own your curves, they’ll catch you up.

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

Image: Amber Griffin

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

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

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

Double up

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

Prep your pants

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

Try tampons

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

You do you

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

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