Next Tuesday!

Just kidding. If only things were that simple.

The truth is, your first period can be a bit like a surprise party. There are clues that something is going on… a few of your friends seem to know something you don’t… maybe your mum is being coy, you have a feeling deep in your stomach that you can’t identify, or you want to stuff your face with cake.

And there are times when you are 100% sure it’s about to happen… only to find no one is actually hiding behind the sofa at all.

Argh.

So if not next Tuesday, when?

The average age for your first period is between 11 and 13 – though some people get their period as young as eight, others will be more like 16. And either way, it’s all totally fine. It just depends on your body and how quickly it develops.

If you find you’re early to the party, don’t worry, it just gives you extra time to get the hang of things. And if you’re running a little behind, that’s not a big deal either. You’ve heard the term ‘fashionably late’, right?

So it’s not a race – it’s a waiting game?

Well, yes. But not everyone likes surprises, and helpfully there are signs to look out for that your period is on its way (no, not a text).

Usually your breasts will begin growing first. Those little bumps that might have formed under your nipples are breast buds, and periods generally show up around two years after those bad boys arrive on the scene

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • The average age for your first period is between 11 and 13, but it could be as young as eight or as late as 16.
  • Clues that your period might be on its way include breasts growing, discharge in your pants and body hair – but everyone is different.
  • Starting a little later is no big drama, but you can chat to your GP if you are worried.

And about a year after your boobs begin to grow, you might find that you start producing discharge. This is your body’s way of letting you know that things in your uterus are kicking into gear, and most people find that their periods arrive between six months to a year after this.

During this time you might also notice armpit hair and pubic hair making an appearance – another little clue that periods are incoming. But remember, everybody’s body is different. Did we mention that already?

Is there anyone that can tell me?

You can try a psychic if that’s your thing… but it’s probably easier to talk to your mum (or sister or auntie) about when they got their period, if you can. It’s pretty likely you’ll get your period around the same time she got hers.

And apart from that…

Just try to be patient. If you get to 16 and you haven’t had your first period yet, it might be a good idea to chat to your GP about what might be holding things up. But whether you get your first period at eight or 18, it’s nothing to freak out about.

And like any other surprise party, we say there should probably be cake.

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. 

The first time I ever fancied someone I was four years old.

Let’s be honest, that’s premature. And a bit weird. So you can imagine my surprise – and disappointment – when, first secondary school disco in full swing, I found myself in the girl’s toilets, totally consumed with fear at the thought of the night ending in my being someone’s girlfriend.

It wasn’t like Scar from The Lion King was even there (plot twist: I no longer fancy cartoon lions, but still love a black hair/ green eye combo). Or that anyone was showing the slightest whiff of interest in the glitter hair mascara fringe I was debuting that evening.

But, despite the sassy four-year-old inside me who was so desperate to be wifeyed back in 1994, the mere thought of anyone trying to snog, dance or really do anything beyond offering me their seat so I could rest my inexperienced platform-heeled feet was enough to make me fake illness and call my Dad to come take me home. Ah, home. I could eat Indian takeaway and watch Friends there, I could have a bubble bath, I could listen to The Killers and imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship without the scary reality of actually having to go through with it.

Needless to say, after that first school disco, it was obvious: casual intimacy intimidated me. And I ended up spending my entire teenage years single.

It wasn’t because I’d suddenly stopped fancying anyone – quite the contrary. I fancied everyone. At least it felt that way; but as I quickly learnt, my feelings were fickle. The second anyone paid any interested in me I was onto the next one, before they had a chance to fish out the alleged eyelash from my heavily kohl-lined socket.

On several occasions I was accused of being a tease or a flirt, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was interested in being in the relationships I formed in my mind – it’s just the reality brought so much pressure, and I was yet to meet anyone with the maturity and patience to match my timid curiosity. I wanted fun from a relationship and, from the looks of things, the real-life kind involved heartbreak, school gossip and the risk of everyone knowing the private things I only wanted special people to know.

It took me longer than I wish it had to realise that I wasn’t a tease, and I wasn’t frigid. I just didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone who didn’t love me. It was as simple as that.

Of course I felt embarrassed about being what from the outside probably looked like a ‘late bloomer’. When you aren’t in love it always feels like everyone else is – but, honestly, this is just imagination talking. I have friends who lost their virginity aged 14 and friends who had their first kiss aged 22, there is no finish line when it comes to intimacy. There just isn’t. Adult life doesn’t begin with your first kiss. If you’re interested in that stuff then life will be littered with it, and you’ll have times when it’s happening a lot and times when it isn’t happening at all.

I’m a bit older now, and I’ve had a serious relationship. We made it work for three years, which doesn’t sound like long but considering the fact that we were broke, lazy students who wore the same Dominoes-stained joggers every day (him) and believed that jarred pesto counted as one of your 5 a day (me), it was a triumph against bad odds. That relationship had everything I’d thought up in my Killers bubble baths. He was loving and hilarious with a gorgeous face, and the first time we kissed I remember being surprised because I wasn’t thinking about when it would be over like all the regretful snogs before him.

It’s important to say here that I think prolific ‘relationship people’ – the types that seem to have loved a hundred times before they’re even legally allowed to drink – are sensational. In my experience they tend to be super open, to both rejection and love, because they come as a pair. Emotional gamblers, pursuing subtle flirtation with the conviction of some sort of intimacy gladiator. But, unless that comes naturally to you, you can’t force it.  As with everything in life, but especially your emotions, you’ve got to consider what you’re comfortable with.

A few days ago a friend asked when I was going to get round to dating someone seriously again and I felt that familiar pang of embarrassment – like FOMO with a sprinkling of shame. The truth is, I just really like being single. Not because I’m frigid, or want a different person every night, or have low self-esteem, or think I’m too good for that bloke who asked me out. I simply love being single because there is so much to love about it.

I don’t have to share anything; my money, my time, my bed, my pizza. I’ve got to know myself in incredible depth, because I’ve had to. I plan my weekends depending on what I want to do, I go to places I want to visit on holiday, I cook what I love for dinner every night. I know exactly what I’m lacking, and what a potential partner could give to make me a better person, but I also know that I’m enough. It’s a strong and sentimental statement, but it’s true. And I like to think this relationship with myself started during those relationship-less teenage years. I’m not scared of being single.

Ultimately relationships can be crazy, fun, sad, beautiful life experiences. But they’ve got to happen on your own terms. My advice would be: take the time to understand exactly what you feel comfortable with.

Because in the end, the only person you have to live with forever is yourself.

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: Easy A

Your identity is a complicated and multilayered thing. Some people place importance on things like nationality, while for others their identity might be wrapped up in a sport they play, or a genre of music that means the world to them. And for many of us, sexuality is a really important aspect of what makes us feel most comfortably ourselves – but the way we’re talking about it is changing in an amazing way.

For lots of young people, the rigid and restrictive conditions around sexuality are looking more and more old-fashioned. You might be a cisgender girl who’s always dated boys but suddenly you catch yourself with feelings for another girl at school. In previous generations this would have caused far much more anxiety and confusion, whereas now it’s something most young people have no real qualms about. With a wealth of knowledge and thousands of different perspectives to absorb online, we’re less likely to define ourselves in such strict terms – officially.

A recent study of over 1000 people aged 13-26 from the UK and US found that a massive 57% of participants don’t identify as strictly heterosexual. As a society, we’re going beyond those black and white binary definitions.

Representation is a really important factor here. It’s so important to see people who reflect who you are in the media, because seeing people like you makes you feel less alone. As a young teen struggling with my own sexuality, to have had something like the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror, or the wonderfully queer Steven Universe, would have meant the world to me (it still does tbh).

Online communities are another way this generation is dismantling sex and gender stereotypes. Back 20 years ago, someone grappling with new and confusing feelings might not have had someone to confide in – but these days, tight-knit groups of online friends and kindred spirits from every corner of the globe can be a total lifeline. The value and legitimacy of online relationships was emphasised by the study results, with 55% of respondents having been in a virtual relationship with someone they had never met before, particularly trans or nonbinary people and those with disabilities.

The study, which was commissioned by anti-bullying organisation Ditch The Label, showed that 34% of people feel as though the label-based definition of sexuality is obsolete. Now more than ever, young people feel like they can be themselves and navigate their sexuality at their own pace, without fear of negative repercussions. A whopping 93% of participants said they saw nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality, and I think they’re totally right. As long as you’re not hurting others and taking care of yourself, just… live your life.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that if you do end up identifying exclusively under a certain label, that’s totally ok too. So many people find community and kinship in embracing a label, and it helps them make sense of their place in the world. On the other hand, it’s not cool to be disparaging of someone if they don’t fit in one category or another. The beauty of us lies in our difference and diversity, and that kind of attitude can leave someone feeling ostracised and inauthentic (speaking from personal experience on this one).

As young people create a more accepting and open-minded view of human sexuality and gender, here’s hoping the progress continues. And if you’re struggling with your sexuality, that there are so many supports out there for you to help navigate through what can be an intense time.

If you remember one thing, it’s that your feelings are always valid regardless of whether you fit into any box or stereotype. You’re never on your own.

@incogellen

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

Image: Hailey Hamilton

 

Activating: relationship. Level: beginner. You got this, girlfriend…

1. I am in a relationship now.

2. I AM IN A RELATIONSHIP.

3. I AM SOMEONE’S GIRLFRIEND.

4. I must assume the role of girlfriend!

5.…what does that even mean? I don’t feel any different.

6. Is there a book on this? Do I put it on Facebook?

7. I haven’t even told my mum.

8. Is she gonna give me the sex talk again? Ugh.

9. Wait, sex. Do we have to have sex now?!

10. No, we don’t. We don’t have to have sex. We will talk about being ready for sex.

11.

12. Will it weird them out if I create a wedding Pinterest board?

13. I need to learn how to hold hands with someone in public.

14. I get sweaty palms, maybe I should carry talc around with me.

15. No, I’d smell like Nan.

16. Oh boy, introducing Nan. How do I explain Nan?

17. INTRODUCING PARENTS.

18. BEING INTRODUCED TO PARENTS.

19. RED ALERT, RED ALERT. EVERYONE TO THE BUNKER.

20. How long do I have before I meet the parents?

21. I will google a script.

22. THEY’VE TEXTED ME.

23. Hold on, I don’t need to freak out at that anymore, I’m their girlfriend.

24. I’M THEIR GIRLFRIEND.

25. Have we stepped up a level with kisses? How many do I put?

26. Or do I put none at all because it’s just implied now that I lov-

27. WHEN DO I SAY I LOVE YOU?

28. What is love?

29. I will google that as well, to be sure.

30. Shall I prepare an ‘I love you’ speech or just slip it in?

31. Oh jeez, sex.

32. This being in a relationship thing is more stressful than I thought.

33. How long has it been?

34. *checks * 10 minutes. I have been in a relationship for 10 minutes.

35. I think I have an upset stomach.

36. CAN I FART IN FRONT OF THEM? Who makes the first farting move?

37. What about pooing, can I poo? I poo a lot.

38. Thinking of them pooing is weird. Maybe it isn’t love yet.

39. Is that love?

40. 

41. Ew.

@louisejonesetc

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

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Often, childhood friendships disintegrate into nothingness. It’s no one’s fault, there’s no huge fight or grand betrayal – but the friendships that once were the most comfortable things in the world start to feel too tight, like the favourite shoes you bought years ago and now are two sizes too small.

‘It’s natural,’ your mum tells you. ‘People outgrow each other,’ your dad says. And they’re right, of course. Some friendships don’t last.

But some do.

These friendships, the ones that started in sandpits when some kid looked at you and didn’t immediately smash your sandcastle with their foot? They’re pretty damn special. So while it might be hard to keep up childhood friendships once you stop seeing each other every day at school or when you actually have to arrange to get together rather than being able to rely on your mums to sort it out, there are a lot of reasons you should hang in there and go the distance with a longterm friendship. For example…

1. They can always help unpack the dishwasher in your house, because they know where everything goes better than you do.

2. You have permanent and inalienable rights to their wardrobe.

3. And they won’t get too cross if you spill on their best top, because, let’s be honest, they’ve done the exact same thing to you.

4. You don’t have to explain your weird Uncle Frederick to them because they know your weird Uncle Frederick. In fact, they sat next to him last year at your birthday dinner and had a nice chat about the Romans.

5. They will be honest and tell you that no, you won’t suit a fringe.

6. And they’ll be sympathetic when you ignore them and get the fringe anyway, and end up completely hating it.

7. You can call them to ask them the name of your primary school librarian.

8. And if they don’t know the answer, at least they’ll be able to share in your frustration.

9. Let’s be honest, who remembers their sixth birthday? You never know, your long-term BFF might.

10. You can sit with them in silence for ages without ever being uncomfortable.

11. And you can be as weird as you like, without worrying that they’re going to stop being your friend.

12. Because these are people who’ve probably seen you pee your pants. At least once.

13. They never forget your birthday because it’s seared into their memory as deeply as their own.

14. You have childhood photos of each other that you can make into pretty collages. 

15. Or use for blackmail.

16. They know the name of your childhood toy.

17. And that you still like to cuddle it when you’re ill or sad.

18. They won’t judge you for what subjects you choose in school, what career you aspire to or what grades you get – they knew you long before any of these things even mattered.

19. And maybe most importantly? Because they’ve loved you at every stage of your life; when you were missing your two front teeth or you couldn’t tie your shoes. They’ve loved you when you couldn’t even spell your own name, let alone write it down. They’ve loved you when you called them crying at 2am or when you’ve given them a hideous cold by sneezing in their face accidentally.

Long-term friendships don’t always work out, but when they do they’re amazing. If you’re lucky enough to get the chance, maybe you should give them a try.

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

Image: Hailey Hamilton

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. 

1. Are they walking towards me?

2. Does my breath smell?

3. Why did I have a tuna sandwich for lunch?

4. Why did I have a tuna sandwich ever? Tuna is the kryptonite of romance.

5. My arms feel weird.

6. Should I cross them?

7. Or just leave them by my sides?

8. Oh my god, what do I normally do with my arms?! WHY IS THIS SO HARD.

9. What should I say?

10. “Hey!”? Nope. Too American.

11. “Hi”? Too simple.

12. “Howdy?” Wait, am I suddenly in a 50s Western film?

13. Maybe I’ll just nod. Nodding says, “I acknowledge you exist, but your presence doesn’t make me want to run away to Spain with you and tattoo your name on my bicep or anything.” Nodding is cool. Right?

14. Right?!

15. Oh my god, they’re coming! No, no no – they’re right here.

16. “G’day partner, do your arms ever feel weird?”

17. Nailed it.

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: Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Practise being assertive

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

2. Learn from the best

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

3. Stand up for yourself in the moment

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

4. Don’t let things brew

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

5. Have a plan

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

6. Choose the perfect place

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

7. Be flexible

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

8. Be real

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

9. Stick to the facts

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

10. Stop things escalating

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

11. Stick to your guns

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

12. Look to the future

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

@LucindaEverett

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

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. 

1. You promise to message and meet up all the time.

text-ok

2. You judge each other’s uniform.

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3. They quickly find new friends and you get protective. How dare they.

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4. You stalk everyone involved in any second of your spare time.

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5. You debate joining a sports team just so you can go to their school and fight the new friends.

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6. Your best friend starts to change and you don’t like it. At all. You agreed Snapchat filters were overrated and now look! She’s wearing a flower crown!

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7. The “Do you mind if so-and-so comes?” texts start to roll in and encroach on your BFF time.

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8. Your parents start to ask why you haven’t mentioned your best friend in ages.

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9. But then, suddenly, they turn up in your Facebook messages when something goes wrong. They need you and only you.

Best friend back

10. And you realise that no matter where you are, how you’ve changed, and what you’re doing, that’s just life and you’ll always be each other’s number one.

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10a. (Fine, and the new friends are actually ok…)

Easy A screaming gif

@louisejonesetc

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

STEM is a little word, with big importance. It stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and it’s used to group together all those subjects that look at the physical, technical way that the world works. We all start off studying them in their simplest forms, though loads of us give up STEM along the way for more flowery subjects – and by ‘us’, we mean girls.

But perhaps more of us need to give STEM a second thought. And a third, and a fourth. Here’s why.

…because STEM subjects are fascinating

STEM can take you from the depths of the ocean to the furthest known galaxy – and everywhere in between. You can study the power of the sun, the movement of the planets, the algorithms of love, the beating of the heart, the ways in which prosthetics can replace limbs and organs, or the real secrets behind the most popular Instagram posts. Yes, really: that’s maths for you.

microscope

“Physics was always a subject that I enjoyed – but when we got onto the more advanced subjects, everything opened up and became so much more interesting. I also realised that I loved the applied maths and the experimental side of physics,” says physicist Dr Charlotte Buckley.

“I loved my degree. Studying everything from quantum mechanics or the behaviour of light, up to the formation of stars, galaxies and the universe was incredibly rewarding.”

…because they make the world go round. Literally.

We don’t need to tell you how big a role technology has these days. Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter basically own us – and if you can’t beat them, work for them. Or at least understand how they work.

Mathematics is, basically, problem solving. It’s the foundation of spaceships, of hydrology (that’s all things water, the reason you can have a shower each day), of architecture, accountancy – even democracy. What is voting but a numbers game? Scientists find cures for disease, contribute toward the making of everything from food to shampoo to cleaning products, and explore the universe.

space

Engineering, meanwhile, is not just building bridges or working on oil rigs. “It can often have connotations of greasy overalls and spanners, but in fact [engineering] is a huge world of professions influencing the world that we live in,” says Vicki Greenwood, a chartered civil engineer and a construction project manager.

Engineering graduate Milly Belcher designed a simulated human jaw at Bristol uni to test new, chewable medicines; then, interning at Dyson, she found herself “designing, testing and evaluating products that, stereotypically, are used by women” – though ironically, the majority of her the workforce were male. Sigh. 

…because they need more women

Dyson is no exception. The numbers are scary, especially when you consider how important STEM subjects are to everything we do every day. Only 9% of the engineering workforce is female. Just 20% of A Level physics students are female, and only 14.4% of the science, tech, engineering and maths (STEM) workforce in the UK is female.

“Women represent half the workforce,” Vicki continues. “STEM subjects lead to careers that have a direct influence on our world. The world is losing a lot of innovative thinkers by not factoring in the female population.” And it has a real cost: “A balanced team will usually be more creative and have a more enjoyable and caring working environment, in my experience,” says Vicki, and indeed companies are shown to be 15% more likely to perform better if they are gender diverse.

goggles

At school and at university, girls studying STEM are “in the minority,” says Milly. “You stand out.” Indeed, at her all-girls school, engineering was not even discussed as a possibility. “My friend and I were the first people from school to study Engineering at university, so application and career advice were limited. Later, at Dyson, she noticed her male colleagues struggle with making products like hairdryers user-friendly – “for example getting a feel for something like the weight of the product: it is difficult for men to contextualise what it feels like for a woman to use. I think that women can sometimes provide an insight that men may not have even considered.” 

…because studying STEM subjects does not make you a nerd

On the contrary, says Milly, “the majority of girls I met on my course were the opposite. They chose engineering because they enjoyed science and maths, but wanted to see a more practical, more creative side to those subjects. Outside of their studies they were heavily involved in sports, charity, etc – and had rich social lives.”

geeky

“There is a very classic image of a woman physicist, which just isn’t true,” Charlotte agrees. “I have heard inspirational lectures from incredible women who have had to fight tooth and nail to get to the top of their profession.” The idea that everyone is super nerdy and can’t socialise is, she says (and I can second it, having seen her on a dance floor) totally not true.

…because they are NOT ‘men’s subjects’

Why do so few women go into STEM subjects? “Maybe young men are more confident in themselves and don’t mind taking on such ‘risky’ subjects, whereas girls are more likely to choose something they feel confident in,” Charlotte suggests.

i-believe-in-science

Of course there’s a perception that they are super hard – and we’re not saying it isn’t true. But that doesn’t make them ‘male’ any more than, er, cooking a soufflé is a female domain.

“There was one eccentric maths teacher who used to say ‘Girls should be in home economics’,” Charlotte laughs, “but I don’t think he was serious, and the three girls in the class would then get the best marks!” As she continued through university, “it became obvious that each person had different strengths in different areas, both technical and theoretical… I can’t really think of anything during my degree which I thought of as ‘male’ traits and ‘female’ traits.

…and it’s empowering stuff to know

After all, as the name suggests, everything starts with STEM.

science-everything

Check out STEMnet to find out more about the cool opportunities out there.

@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. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Whether you’re the kind of person who faints at a papercut or can watch gory hospital shows without nightmares, the monthly drama in your pants can be daunting. For one thing, it can look (and feel) like SO. MUCH. BLOOD.

But it isn’t. Honestly, it isn’t.

The average person will pass between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during their whole period. So even at their heaviest, that’s still less than half of a small Starbucks cup size – and it could be as little as a squirt of syrup. But let’s not ruin syrup by thinking about that too much.

Will it always be like this?

Just like your favourite hot chocolate order, the heaviness of your period can vary from person to person. The bottom line is: we’re all different, and you’ll find out what’s normal for your body.

It’s common for bleeding to be heavier during the first day or two, then calm down and lighten up towards the end of your period (so better use it as an excuse to claim that last cookie now).

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • On average, you’ll only produce between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during your whole entire period (it just feels like loads more).
  • It’s common for your period to start heavier and get lighter – both through the week, and as you get older. But everybody is different.
  • If your period is so heavy that it’s making life difficult, have a chat to your GP.

Your first period will often be light, more like a sticky stain or a few reddish-brown spots (more delightful details here), but many people find their periods are heavier in the first few years, while things are settling down. Stress, diet, medication, health conditions and loads of other things can affect the amount you bleed from month to month, and also over the course of your adult life – so don’t panic if you go from a trickle to a stream to a river.

Um, it feels like a waterfall.

Still don’t panic! Remember, it’s so much less than it looks. Periods are tricksters like that.

But if you find you’re bleeding so much that you have to change your pad or tampon every hour, use both a tampon and pad at once, or get up in the middle of the night to change your pad or tampon, it’s known as ‘flooding’ – and it’s not much fun.

So don’t be a hero, tell someone! If heavy periods are making life difficult, your GP should be able to help.

And if anyone tells you to ‘just go with the flow’, you have permission to throw a cushion at them.

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: Katie Edmunds