What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, characterised by disordered eating behaviour that might include restricting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food all at once, countering food eaten through purging or excessive exercise, or a combination of these.

It’s important to remember that they’re not really about the physical behaviour, but rather about the thoughts and feelings behind the behaviour – eating disorders may be a way to cope or to feel in control. Anyone can have an eating disorder, no matter what their age, gender, or background.

Perhaps you’ve noticed something about your eating behaviour that worries you, or perhaps someone else has. Regardless of how you came to consider the possibility that you might have an eating disorder, realising that there’s a problem is a really important step. But what about the steps after it? Here are some things that you can do or just keep in mind:

1. Speak to someone that you trust about your concerns

Breaking the silence around eating disorders is vital, because these illnesses thrive on secrecy. You might want to talk to a close friend or family member, a teacher or a therapist. Try noting down beforehand some of what is worrying you, whether that’s your actions or the thoughts you’re having, so that you have some things to centre the conversation around. If there’s information somewhere, such as a list of symptoms, that has caused you to worry, you could show them this so that they understand why you’re concerned. It may be that they have noticed the same things you have and will be very glad that you’ve spoken up.

“Breaking the silence around eating disorders is vital, because these illnesses thrive on secrecy”

If the person you speak to doesn’t react as sensitively as you’d hope, don’t be disheartened. If they don’t understand or are dismissive, that doesn’t mean that your concerns aren’t valid. You deserve support, and you’ve taken the brave and positive step of reaching out, so try speaking to someone else.

2. Seek treatment as soon as possible

Research is very clear that the sooner someone gets treatment for an eating disorder, the greater their chance of a full and sustained recovery. Speak to your GP about your symptoms, and write down some thoughts and questions beforehand so you have something to refer to if you forget anything. You could ask someone you trust to go with you to your appointment to support you. Your GP should be sensitive to your needs, but if you don’t feel that you’re getting the help you need, you can ask to see a different GP.

3. Don’t feel that you have to tick every box on a list of criteria for your illness to be real

Eating disorders are very complex, and while there are lots of symptoms that might be associated with specific eating disorders, not everyone with an eating disorder will have all of them. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are not the only diagnoses – a high percentage of diagnosed eating disorder cases are “other specified feeding or eating disorder” or “OSFED”. These are every bit as serious as any other eating disorder, and it is just as important that you get the treatment and support you need.

“Don’t feel that you have to tick every box on a list of criteria for your illness to be real”

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4. Don’t feel that you have to figure out the cause of your illness or an exact reason to be feeling the way that you do.

It’s thought that eating disorders are a combination of a biological predisposition and a social or environmental trigger, and sometimes people can point to an exact moment that their eating disorder started. But sometimes they can’t, and that’s okay.

Remember, eating disorders are very complex illnesses, and anyone can have one, regardless of their background. If you can’t explain it, or if the cause of your eating disorder doesn’t seem as “serious” to you as the cause of someone else’s, that doesn’t mean that it’s not just as real. You should still seek the support you deserve.

5. Consider keeping a journal to keep track of your thoughts and feelings

This is something that you can share with your doctor or therapist depending on your treatment, as well as use to identify any patterns and potentially learn about what things might help or hinder your recovery.

“No two people with an eating disorder are the same, except for one thing – they are all absolutely deserving of help and support”

6. You could also keep a “go-to box”

This is a collection of things that can provide a distraction from negative thoughts and feelings or help calm you if you’re feeling anxious.

It could be a physical box with activities in it, or something like a collection of apps on your phone. You might be someone who prefers to read your favourite book when you’re struggling, or have a particular game that you find takes your mind off things. No matter how you cope best, the important thing is that you never have to look too far for things that you know will be helpful.

No two people with an eating disorder are the same, except for one thing – they are all absolutely deserving of help and support, and the sooner they get it, the better.

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about eating disorders, or anything that might be bothering you, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

For more information about eating disorders and what to do if you’re worried about yourself or someone you know, go to www.b-eat.co.uk

As Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 is upon us, we caught up with body positive Instagram star and advocate for eating disorder recovery, @_nelly_london.

Tell us a bit about yourself

So my name is Nelly and I am a body positive influencer. My content mainly focuses on lingerie and fashion but I also talk a lot about eating disorder recovery and my personal journey.

When did you realise you had an issue with food?

I struggled to realise I ever had a problem because my issues started so early on, essentially I grew up with a very skewed view on food, eating and body image. From as young as I can remember I know I hated by body and I thought that food was the reason for that, so there was never a specific moment I realised I had a problem, I guess I just always had.

What was your experience of eating disorders?

Eeesh good question haha. So I started to experience disordered eating behaviours when I was about 12, these developed from there and at my worst stage of disordered eating I was suffering from 3 eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) concurrently and my life was controlled entirely by food and thoughts about food. I was also periodically abusing laxatives, something that has unfortunately caused permanent damage to my digestive system.

Woman standing in Ditch the Label T Shirt that says 'Woman Up'

What was your experience of recovery?

Finding help was the hardest part. I had been to my GP multiple times and received no help whatsoever. I had so many setbacks, so many doctors telling me that they didn’t think I had a problem because I was actually overweight and didn’t meet their criteria. When I think about that now I honestly feel so sad, I was suffering an indescribable amount and was extremely unwell, both mentally and physically, but at least 3 doctors told me I was fine. After years or trying, I was lucky enough to find an amazing eating disorder specialist who honestly saved my life. I was in an incredibly privileged position as when I finally asked my parents for help, they were able to take me to a private clinic. If it wasn’t for the help I received there I don’t know what my life would be like today.

What helped you most in your recovery?

Learning that recovery is not linear was a really important lesson that I learned. I used to really beat myself up if I had a setback or slipped back into dangerous habits, but when I finally realised that healing would involve a lot of ups and downs I was able to be a lot more forgiving of myself. There definitely were a lot of ups and downs, but I was supported throughout them all.

How have you found life since? What’s the best thing about your life since recovery?

When I was at my worst I honestly and truly believed that that would be my life forever. I thought I would spend my entire existence trying to lose weight and being controlled by food. I accepted the fact that I would never see my friends, I would never experience fun or exciting things, I would never have any meaningful relationships with partners because the only committed relationship I was ever capable of having would be with my eating disorder. So the fact that I now have an incredibly fulfilling life is the biggest blessing I could ever ask for. If 18 year old me saw the things I was doing now she would never believe it.

Woman in body positive social media campaign

Your social media is very body positive, how has the bopo community helped in your recovery?

I think discovering the bopo community completely changed my outlook on life (honestly!). I had no idea that there were men and women out there genuinely embracing their bodies and celebrating their “imperfections”. It was such a breath of fresh air to realise that not everyone is a perfect size 8, hourglass figured, smooth skinned, perfectly dressed goddess. I now no longer compare myself and my body to everyone I see on Instagram, instead I admire the beauty and uniqueness of all different bodies. Again, something I never thought would be possible.

So do you think you are truly recovered and your eating disorders are behind you?

This is such a tricky one. Whilst I now live an amazing life that I am completely in love with, I know that I will be working on my behaviours around food for the rest of my life. I still have days where I need to consciously make an effort to not let problematic thoughts control me, but other days I forget I even ever had an illness.

Is there any advice you can give to someone in recovery now?

Know that it won’t be a smooth road to recovery, but that’s totally okay and you will get there.

Use your support system whenever you need to, don’t feel like you are a burden to anyone and asking for help or just a bit of support is really important.

Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s, everyone is different and your journey is yours and yours alone, don’t feel bad if you think your progress is slower than others.

Look forward to the future but experience the present. Although you might not be exactly where you want to be, right now is important, don’t wish it away.

You’ve got this.


If you think you are suffering from an eating disorder, or know someone who is, you can get help and advice at Beat Eating Disorders here.

At Ditch the Label, we can also offer help and advice regarding this or any other issue you are concerned about. Reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

It’s LGBT+ History Month! To celebrate, here’s something we wrote about the amazing LGBT+ role model for young men everywhere: rugby star Gareth Thomas.

We’ve already covered how much of a hero Gareth is before, but we decided now would be a better time than ever to introduce this man to you and explain exactly why he should be given a bloody knighthood already.

Firstly, Gareth Thomas is a rugby hall of famer. He represented Wales exactly one hundred times and is one of their top try scorers. Not many players get to play for their country but Gareth has managed to do so in Rugby Union, Rugby League and international Sevens as well. 

Aside from rugby, Gareth has just as much impact off the field as he does on it. In 2009, he came out as gay and said that “what I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby” which is pretty bang on, if you ask us. He became one of the first rugby players to do so. 

Whenever Gareth has revealed anything in his life to the public, it is always with the hope of making it easier for somebody else to do the same. When he came out, he wanted to make sure that future gay rugby players could just be seen as talented rugby players and that if his story made it easier for just one young lad in a similar position then it would all have been worth it. This desire to empower others is incredibly selfless and speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.


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He was a victim of a hate crime in 2018. What was truly amazing about the aftermath is that he didn’t want to press charges. The assaulter was a young man and Gareth requested that he apologise and learn to understand the true effect hate crime has on the victims. 

A few weekends ago, he did something truly incredible. Just shortly after revealing he is living with HIV in a heartbreaking video, he completed a gruelling 140-mile Ironman triathlon just to prove the idea we have of people living with HIV is outdated. In 2019, HIV and asthma requires about the same amount of medication. Thousands of people now live healthy lives with HIV. He has now pledged to work on breaking the stigma around it and empower those in the same position. In the video, Gareth says that he was being threatened by a tabloid who said they would out this secret. So, in true legendary fashion, he released a video himself to let the world know that this is his story to tell and nobody else’s. 

There’s no doubt that Gareth has had a rollercoaster of a ride so far. But his desire to prove that you are not defined by one individual thing along with his work to break down stigmas and empower people by owning his life and his story makes him a huge role model for us and many, many others. By being so selfless and sharing his life with total honesty, not only gives others a voice to speak out but shows that support is out there. 

Countless celebrities, role models, as well as thousands of the public have shown their support and admiration for the strength and bravery of Gareth for sharing his story. This is a man who is constantly breaking down barriers and is respected by everyone. Even England rugby fans will give the Welshman a big cheer. Wherever Gareth goes, he is completely respected by those inside and outside of the sporting industry. From Princes Harry and William, to his best rugby mates, to the LGBTQ+ community, Gareth is inspiring so many people and empowering them all to feel comfortable in their own skin. Gareth, we salute you and applaud you, you absolute hero. But mostly, we’re so thankful for the work you do to help make this world a kinder place to live. 

If you want support or need to speak to someone confidentially, you can join our community here.

For more inspiration and daily motivation, follow our Instagram @ditchthelabel.

Sometimes, social media is really sucky. With images of the perfect body, perfect hair, dream holidays, couple goals and bedrooms so immaculate they put your laundry covered floor to shame, it can be exhausting to keep up with how we are supposed to be living our best lives. Not only can it be simply annoying, it can actually make you feel pretty crap about yourself, and even be a contributing factor to issues such as anxiety or depression. That’s why we have compiled a short list of some of the best accounts you can follow to give your social media a mental wellbeing makeover. 

1) For some visual meditation @satisfyingvideo 

This account posts some seriously satisfying videos of all kinds of arts and crafts. From pottery to paint swirling, these guys post videos from across other super satisfying Instagram accounts that will make you feel weirdly calm inside. 

2) For the warm fuzzies @cuteanimals

This account will give you all the warm fuzzies you need to make it through the day. Trust us – this adorable array of puppies, kittens, ducks and others is sure to take the edge off any stress-filled situation. Can anyone say ‘emergency cuteness’?

3) For body positivity @bopo.boy

Body positivity knows no gender. With fitness influencers, sports stars and supermodels dominating the media with standards that are so often out of reach, injecting a bit of positive diversity into our Instagram feeds is something we can all benefit from. @bopo.boy, a.k.a Steven Blaine is leading the charge in male body positivity, and we are here for it! 



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4) For us @ditchthelabel 

How could we do a list like this without sneaking ourselves on here? Our feed is packed full of inspirational quotes to get you thinking positively about all aspects of life, love and friendship. Check out our stories for tips and tricks on dealing with the big issues, whilst our feed will give you all the best quotes, cuteness and memes to keep your social media more looking positive than ever before.



Instagram


5) For some colourful positive vibes @scarrednotscared

This super cute account will give you all the female empowerment body positive vibes that you never knew you needed to brighten up your newsfeed. Michelle Elman, the woman behind the insta @scarrednotscared, is serving looks, self love and body positive memes that will give you the BDE of the gods. 

6) For slime @slime

Sometimes after a stressful day, the only thing that will do it is watching someone play with slime. This account will give you just that, with satisfying AF videos of people playing with the squidgy stuff. 

7) For some inclusive beauty blogging @jakejamie

Make-up knows no gender just like body positivity. When beauty bloggers’ perfect faces illuminated by even more perfect lighting gets old (and it does) Jake is the perfect antidote. With skincare tutorials and product testing soundtracked by some adorable tunes, the Beauty Boy is all about the pretty, but honestly. 



Instagram


8) For daily inspiration @thegoodquote

A one-stop-shop for all your inspirational quote needs, this account will be throwing some motivational moments into your feed daily and is always ready with something that will remind you that any bad day can be turned around in a heartbeat, and that negativity doesn’t have to last forever.

If you feel like social media is getting you down, or you need to talk to someone about cyberbullying, mental health, body image, or anything that is bothering you reach out to our support community here

Overcoming Social Anxiety – Everything you need to know

We live in an age of anxiety. With a combination of countless disasters in the news whilst being bombarded by constant ads, it comes as no surprise that the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with anxiety is at an all-time high.

In ordinary, everyday situations it is reasonable and some might even say good to be anxious, it can after all help us perform better. Even feelings of fear have a purpose, they are designed to help us survive scary situations we might encounter. Back in the “good old days”, this made us quicker to respond to the threat of being eaten alive; forcing us to run, hide or for those who are a bit more courageous, throw a stone… (and then leg it!) This response is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response which causes the heart to speed up, hyperventilation (getting more oxygen) and increased blood flow to the muscles.

Zoella on social anxiety

We all get a bit nervous if we have to speak in front of a large group of people, right? Or if we have to meet someone for the first time? This is totally normal. There are countless ordinary situations such as this that cause people who suffer from social anxiety to get cripplingly anxious and experience the fight-or-flight response which can be really disabling to their everyday lives. Social anxiety, simply put, is the fear of social situations.

Living with social anxiety can be frustrating and as with many things, change doesn’t happen overnight. You might feel like your mind has an ability to instantly jump a million steps into the worst-case scenario! Some of the signs of social anxiety are:

  • Finding yourself worrying about other people’s reactions
  • Experiencing extreme nervousness and anxiousness when taking part in social situations
  • Feeling really insecure about everything you say and do in social situations
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Feeling overly judged
  • Avoiding social situations all-together
  • Experiencing physical effects on your body during social situations such as sweating, increased heart rate, or rapid breathing.
  • Avoiding eye contact

If you think you might have social anxiety, we would always recommend seeking a professional diagnosis from your GP. Most importantly, remember that however isolated you might feel you are far from alone – social anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in the UK.

Overcoming Social Anxiety – 7 Tips

1. Share

Hiding or suppressing anxiety actually produces more anxiety. The most useful step is to share your experience with friends and family, or even talk about them online to us or someone else that you trust. Many people often feel ashamed of their anxiety and can be incredibly reluctant to share it. The media often leads people to believe that mental illness is a weakness, which makes people less likely to admit to themselves and others what they are going through. We all have mental health and it is reported that up to 1 in 3 of us, will at some point experience a mental health illness and it’s okay to talk about it.

2. Breathe

Your body is powerful. Learning the warning signs of when your anxiety flares up is important to help you take action; for some, this could be your body feeling tense and your mind feeling chaotic. Your body and especially your lungs can help. Breathing exercises can help you control your anxiety. Having a steady breath has a direct impact on your heart rate and, in turn, your thoughts. Your heart will slow down as your breath does and as your breathing and your heart rate slow down your mind and thoughts will too.

3. Thinking isn’t reality

As much as it feels like anxiety controls you, anxiety isn’t reality and you control your own reality. It’s important to remember that social anxiety feeds on thoughts that emphasise danger and negativity. Symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and sweating emerge from this kind of thinking. Luckily thinking is a habit and can, of course, be changed. The cure isn’t just positive thinking but realistic thinking. Try and examine your anxious thoughts such as ‘I am going to say something stupid’ they are often exaggerations of reality. Then try and produce thoughts that criticise and correct them.

4. Shift your attention

Anxiety has a way of grabbing your attention and turning it inward upon yourself, making you not only self-critical but suddenly noticing how your heartbeat has rapidly increased without your permission, meanwhile, you then suddenly feel yourself getting hotter, red in the face… sweaty… it feels like a domino effect that cannot be interrupted. But instead, try and focus your attention on what it is you may be doing, so if you are speaking to someone try and pay close attention to what they are saying rather than worrying about what the right thing is to say next.

5. Face your fears

Avoiding social situations, yes will make you feel better at that particular moment. But remember this is only a short-term solution which prevents you from learning how to cope and will make you avoid social situations in the future more. As out of reach as it might seem, facing your fears in small steps you will allow you to work towards the more challenging situations and will give you coping skills. If meeting new people makes you feel anxious you can begin by going to a party with a friend. You can then take the following step of introducing yourself to a new person. Remember, saying no will give you the same result each time. Saying yes, however frightening, means you’re taking a chance and living your life.

6. Stop trying to be perfect

It’s easy to forget that no one is perfect when we live in a world that aspires to achieve perfection. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone will like us nor does everyone need to. Ask yourself do YOU like everyone (slim chances)? It’s also often forgotten that it’s okay to make mistakes as it makes us human.

7. Play the Rejection Game

The purpose of the game is to gain some sort of rejection through a series of different challenges. The purpose of the game is to encourage you to see rejection differently and to face your fears whilst maintaining a certain element of control over the situation.

Beginner challenges

  • Ask somebody you don’t usually speak to at school for the time
  • Put your hand up in class to answer a question
  • Give somebody a compliment
  • Strike up a conversation with somebody outside of your friendship circle

Intermediate challenges

  • Ask for a discount at the checkout
  • Ask somebody to take a photo of you
  • Ask your strictest teacher for an extension on your homework, even if you don’t need one
  • Reach out to an old friend and ask if you can make up
  • Ask to go to the front of a queue
  • Fundraise for a charity (*cough* we’re a charity *cough*) and ask people you know to sponsor you

Expert challenges

  • Go to a restaurant and ask for a tour of the kitchen
  • Request a refill on a meal you’ve just eaten
  • Dance in public.

Don’t forget that there is always support available – whether you decide to access it online or offline. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to speak to somebody about social anxiety and/or bullying. Join our community to start a conversation about anxiety with others who have similar experiences…

More:

37% of People Develop Social Anxiety As a Result of Bullying 
The Long-Term Effects of Bullying 

Conflict Resolution 101

Most of us will do absolutely anything to avoid having awkward conversations and to stay as far away from confrontation as humanly possible. Unfortunately, conflict is just a part of daily living, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. It’s impossible for us all to agree on absolutely everything and it’s also impossible to breeze through life without falling out with your best mate, hitting rock bottom with your bub or having a complete and utter breakdown of communication with your family.

There’s also a growing amount of evidence to show that some of the skills we’re going to share in this piece can be great ways at tackling bullying. We’ve put together the ultimate guide on conflict resolution to help you tackle bullying head-on and to patch up that fall out that’s playing on your mind. The techniques will also help you become better at negotiating and help you avoid further conflict.

Get a notepad and take notes. Here are the 16 things you need to know about conflict resolution:

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1. Know what it is first

Conflict resolution is all about finding a peaceful solution to a problem between 2 or more people. Conflict resolution can be used to resolve a massive range of issues – from war and corruption to divorce, bullying and breakdowns in communication.

2. Assess risk

Sometimes it isn’t appropriate to do the conflict resolution yourself. If the person causing you distress has a history of violence or aggressive behaviour and confrontation could put you at risk, then explore other options. If you feel like you could safely speak to the person directly, read on…

3. Address your fears

Know that the idea of conflict resolution at first can feel absolutely terrifying and intimidating, but please don’t let it deter you. Know that most of us find confrontation uncomfortable and do remember that there is a strong chance that this will help you solve the issue.

4. Structure your conversation

Before you have your conversation, make sure you are familiar with how you’d like to structure it. An example is below:

  • Request the conversation. Example: “Hey Tom, I wondered if we could chat for a minute about something I have on my mind?”
  • Establish an outcome: “It would be great if we could figure out a better way of talking with each other”
  • Say your piece: “You keep calling me stupid. I’m not stupid and it makes me feel embarrassed. I’ve been worried about it. Did I do something to upset you?”
  • Allow them to talk. Remain calm and receptive.
  • Negotiate and agree on a solution.
  • Thank them for talking to you about it.

5. Get neutral

Conflict resolution works best when it is done in a neutral setting, like a public park, coffee shop or empty classroom. Sometimes it may be beneficial to have strangers around to prevent it turning into a huge argument, but that’s up to you.

6. It ain’t a group activity

In order to be effective, the conversation needs to either be facilitated by a trained mediator or should be just between you and the person you have issues with. This is not a point scoring exercise or a way to prove who is right and who is wrong, so don’t allow a group dynamic to influence the process.

7. DON’T SHOUT

Nothing ever got resolved by shouting. Seriously, can you think of anything that shouting ever resolved? Not really. If the other person starts to shout, no matter how angry or tempted you are, don’t do it. Stop talking and wait until they’ve stopped. Tell them you don’t want to argue and talk to them as you normally would. If they keep on shouting, suggest a break or consider ending the session.

8. Take bullet points

At first, it’s likely that you will feel nervous and stressed. These feelings will pass, but can temporarily cloud your mind. This is why it’s a good idea to write down a few bullet points of things you’d like to tell the other person before you meet with them. If you feel more comfortable, you could even write a few paragraphs of things you’d like to say and read it out to them. Be honest and tell them that the conversation makes you nervous because it’s important to you. Unless they have deeply rooted issues, it is likely that sharing something vulnerable with them will encourage them to drop their guard and be more receptive to you.

9. Don’t be personal

You’ve lost the moment you say something to purposely insult the other person. Conflict resolution isn’t a fancy way to argue, the whole point of the process is to resolve conflict.

10. Be objective

A good structure of conversation is to first talk about the observation, then the impact and then what needs to change/ask why. Example: ’You called me fat in front of the class, it made me feel embarrassed and upset and I’d like it if you didn’t do that again’.

11. Focus on an outcome

Mutually agree on an outcome at the start of the session and do refer to it should the conversation start to detract… for example, if you’ve fallen out with your best mate and they’ve been talking about you behind your back, a good outcome would be something that isn’t blaming, something like ‘We’d like to figure out what went wrong and rebuild our friendship.’

12. Repeat language back

It is likely that the other person will feel defensive at first. A great and subtle way of encouraging them to lower their barriers is to start using some of the same language. They likely won’t consciously realise it, but subconsciously they will interpret it as you both have similar ways of communicating.

13. Talk and listen

Listen as much as you are talking. A good conflict resolution session is balanced and a safe space for people to talk openly and honestly about how they feel. If you are using conflict resolution to resolve a bullying-related issue, keep in mind that often, people bully others because they have deeper issues that they aren’t coping with properly.

14. Negotiate

Be prepared to negotiate, but never allow anybody to make you feel as if your emotions aren’t valid. If you’re feeling it, it’s real and you are entitled to feel upset or angry for example. If you’re being bullied, never take ownership of your own abuse. Do be receptive to what the person has to say though and try to be respectful, even if deep down you feel as though you hate the person and how they have treated you.

15. Know when to end

If the other person is unresponsive, know when to end the conversation and to try a different resolution tactic.

16. Remember

Regardless of the outcome, learning conflict resolution skills is an invaluable process. This situation is temporary and not everybody is mature enough to have an open and honest conversation. Good luck!

Related content

“Planet Earth is full of labels. And I’ve never been comfortable with labels”

It’s LGBT+ History Month, and only a few short weeks since Nikkie Tutorials broke the internet with her powerful, heartfelt and emotional video wherein she came out as transgender. We are celebrating all the amazing LGBT people of the world this month, so here is that incredible story for you.

Trans rights are human rights

First off, this. Trans rights are human rights. Nikkie mentions in her video that she was being blackmailed and so decided to take the narrative into her own hands, before she was ready. Let’s be clear on this – coming out should always be down to the person who wants to come out and them alone. It’s a basic right to be able to have some control over who knows what about you, and this was taken away from her. Despite this, she still did it with grace. 

Trans rights nevertheless are under attack the world over, and many trans people live with abuse and fear every day. We teamed up with our friends over at Brandwatch to take a look at transphobic abuse online, and you can read the full report here

F*** the haters, amiright? 

Transphobic abuse is something that trans people have to deal with every single day of their lives. Our research looked at 10,000,000 public social media posts over a three year period, 1,500,000 of which were put on a scale of transphobic abuse. That’s right, it happens so much that there is even a scale for it, going from ‘acts of trans bias’ all the way up to inciting trans genocide. That’s horrendous.

Nikkie’s brave coming out video showed us all just how hard it is for someone to come out, and how that’s even harder for someone who is being blackmailed. Like we said above, it’s the right of only the person who is coming out to control that narrative, and absolutely no one else. 


The support she is getting is giving us all the warm fuzzies

Possibly one of the absolute very best things about this though, is the support we see she is getting from every corner of the internet. Whilst there may be a few haters out there trying to shout her down, we are so happy to see everyone backing her until the end on this one. You deserve the love Nikkie, you are fire. 

Now one of the largest makeup channels in the world is owned by an openly transgender woman 

Visibility can be tough for a trans person, and can often be the last thing they want. But by providing the world with another strong, smart, powerful role model who just happens to be trans, hopefully the world will become more of a kinder place for trans people to exist. We certainly hope it will. 

“This feels liberating and freeing, but I, at the end of the day, am still Nikkie.”

Towards the end of the video, Nikkie states just how much this has been tearing her apart, but also how incredibly liberating it feels to be free of the weight of carrying it around. Coming out can be super difficult, but most people state it makes them feel so much better to be able to live life without the burden of a secret. The most important thing to remember though is that if you are struggling with this, you can come out to whoever you feel comfortable with, and at your own pace. Someone else’s story is not yours, and you get to decide when and to whom you come out. Need some help coming out as trans? We’ve got some top tips for you here

#IamMe

Just hours after the video dropped, the hashtag #IamMe was trending across social media. We are here for it. You are who you are, and that is pretty damn amazing. You are unique and individual, and with that comes so much power to be happy. You are who you are, and whatever you might be going through, you’ve got this. 

So Nikkie, we applaud you for everything you are doing. We stan a strong woman, and we are backing you all the way b. 

You can watch Nikkie’s video below

Feel like you need someone to talk to, but maybe can’t speak with those in your life yet? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support.

It’s Valentine’s Day! This day can be super wonderful if you’re all loved up with your other half, but if you’re flying solo or just having some relationship trouble, it’s a hell of a lot of pressure. Well, we asked a whole bunch of influencers about love, because Valentine’s Day should be for everyone, whether you’re in a couple or not. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

Emily Clarkson

Emily says:

“HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY ❤ a day that I bloody hated when I was single and convinced I was unlovable, that now I’m coupled up slightly washes over me because capitalism is tiring BUT given social media’ll be rife with soppy, envy inducing declarations of love today and I know it’s not the happiest day for a lot of people, I wanted to pop up with a reminder. 
A reminder to love YOURSELF this Valentine’s Day. 

I’ve been with my wonderful boyfriend for 7 years and in SO many ways our relationship is entirely fantastic and perfect. But then in other ways, it’s not. Because he always leaves food in the sink and I never put my clothes away and we drive each other mad. Also because we’re humans. And human relationships aren’t perfect.

But Instagram never sees that shit. Only we see that and that sometimes leaves us feeling like there’s something wrong with us, and there isn’t! @alexandrew.1 is still the love of my bloody life, my heart could explode with adoration for him! But something we’re learning as we live our lives together, is that in order for us to be happy together, we have to be happy within ourselves too. And that means putting ourselves first from time to time. Practising a bit of self love, as the kids call it! 

At the end of the day, the MOST important relationship you have, is the one that you have with yourself. I know that’s hard to believe, we are the generation raised on the rom-com after-all, but it’s true. True happiness doesn’t come from external validation; it comes from within. And the rest of it is really just a bloody delicious icing atop the cake. 

And so today I’ve teamed up with @ditchthelabel to remind you, whether you’re single or not, to show yourself some love today. Spoil yourself. EAT ALL THE OVERPRICED CHOCOLATES. And be kind to yourself, now and forever!!”

Instagram

Simone Charles

Simone says:

“❤❤LOVE YO’SELF❤❤ As you start to see Valentine’s day adverts this week, remember it isn’t *just* day to show love to a partner… You can show love to your friends, your family and most importantly yourself!”

Instagram

Stevie Blaine

Stevie says:

“HAPPY VALENTiNES DAY 💕
During a holiday created by capitalism to make us buy crap and feel even worse I want to remind you to love yo self! You’re the most important person in your life so spend the day doing something for you. Take a bath, go on a walk and whilst you’re at it buy yourself some chocolates because you deserve it! As I’m here in japan I started my day at @nobehanoyu_tsuruhashi onsen (public baths filled with hot spring water) relaxing and giving myself some much needed R&R now I’m off to get milk tea & melon pan.”

Instagram

However you are going to be spending your Valentine’s Day, make sure you leave some room to take care of and be kind to yourself. It’s one day, in a whole year of wonderful days, so if you aren’t feeling great about it, take some advice from some our favourite people above and do you.

If you feel like you need a bit of daily inspiration, follow us on Instagram @ditchthelabel

Valentine’s day is a long-standing tradition, that was once celebrated between 2 people and showcased their love, commitment and appreciation towards each other. This is still the case, to an extent. However, it now seems that Valentine’s day is no longer between 2 people, it is fact between the couple and social media.

Don’t get me wrong, if I came home to a romantically candle-lit house, flowers, a cooked dinner etc – you know the vibe – I would be so moved that firstly I would probably burst into tears (because I cry at everything) and secondly I’d want to tell people how amazing my partner is. The downside now however is that when we log onto social media on this very special and intimate day, that we find our ENTIRE feed filled with roses, romance and love – none of which is aimed at us. This, just like the social media highlight reel can make us feel super left out, and like we’re missing something.

I have never celebrated Valentine’s day, never had someone buy me flowers, cook me a romantic meal or just show that general love and appreciation. So, as soon as the dreaded Valentine’s day approached, it just reminded me of that lovely fact that I was still single. Not only that, but I would see the level of love that “Insta-couples” are showing each-other and would feel super lonely. 


What can we do about it?

Stop giving a f**k

Just because you’re not in a relationship does not mean that there is anything wrong with you, you just haven’t found the right person yet. In the meantime, don’t look at other people’s relationships.

Turn your phone off

Take the day to yourself! If you feel like you can’t go onto Social Media without feeling bad for seeing Valentine’s day posts, just take some time away! Appreciate those around you.

Love yourself

Valentine’s day doesn’t just have to mean appreciating your partner, appreciate you! Treat yourself to your favourite dinner, watch your favourite film, do absolutely nothing, or do everything that makes you smile. Turn Valentine’s day into a day of self-love.

There’s nothing wrong with being single

We’ve been brought up with the idea that our life goal will involve marriage and kids, this is society. Take the time for you, there’s nothing wrong with being by yourself as it can actually be quite liberating. 

People are always going to post their Valentine’s day, it’s a day we feel loved and appreciated, and we almost want to show it off. But it does just become another part of the social media highlight reel – one which can have a negative impact on many social media users.

So, the next time you log in to social media and feel bad for seeing posts like this, think about why and do what’s within your power to make yourself feel better. Also, the next time you log in to social media and go to post these sorts of photos, think about why you’re really posting them. Is it to show appreciation for your partner, or to tell the world what you’ve got – maybe consider this a little longer?

ANYWAY – Valentine’s day is just round the corner, and however you end up spending it, I hope you feel loved, no matter where it comes from. 

For more from Max, check out his Instagram @max_hovey

Loved this? Read Max’s article on being the last single friend in the group here.

Stage 1. Be honest with yourself

‘Just be yourself’ – such an overused phrase, right? And it doesn’t always feel like the easiest thing to do. If you feel unsure of your identity, maybe take some time by yourself to figure out what it is you truly like to do and how you like to dress, regardless of what fashion dictates or your friend’s tastes, or how you think others might perceive you because of these choices. Experiment; remember you don’t have to ‘commit’ to anything – over time your tastes may change! That’s fine too! Contemplate what makes you truly happy – what brings a smile to your face and excites you when you think about it? Identify what it is that you love and enjoy and embrace it.

Stage 2. Work on building your confidence levels and self-esteem

You need to work on yourself if you are lacking inner confidence. This takes time, but the rewards are worth it. Every time you think negatively about yourself, counter that thought with a positive one, or when you feel a negative thought coming on – list three things that you are appreciative of. Analyse your body language too – try and smile more often (even if it is forced at first) it will make you feel better (promise)! Look at your posture – hold that head high when you walk! Make sure when you talk to other people, you hold eye contact too. Believe in yourself. Make it part of your morning routine to compliment yourself when you see your reflection in the mirror. The more confident you are, the more likely you will feel comfortable showing other people the real you!

Stage 3. Express yourself

Now you have learned what it is that makes you happy, and you have built those confidence levels up, express yourself – every day! Whether it is how you dress, a hobby you enjoy, the music you like to listen to, the films you want to watch etc, do it! Own it! Enjoy it!

Stage 4. Try not to care what other people think of you

It might seem impossible to totally disregard other people’s opinions, but really if you think about it, what do other people’s opinions actually matter? If they want to comment, let them! You’ll be too happy enjoying life to notice, and the likelihood is, they are only making such remarks because deep down, they wish they had the confidence to express themselves as you do. Would people who are happy and secure in their own skin feel the need to act negatively towards others? No.

Stage 5. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

Comparison really is the absolute thief of all happiness! Carry on doing what you are doing regardless of what paths those around you might be treading – each individual’s footprints are unique! Be strong, be kind and find your own way in life.

Stage 6. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself

It is time to ditch the people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. If you spend time with someone and you come away feeling down about yourself, I hate to break it to you, but they ain’t no friend. It’s time to evaluate who you give your precious time to – choose wisely! Be picky! You only have one life, and you want it filled with people who truly love and care for you!

Are you looking to build your confidence and overcome low self-esteem? Read our guide to boosting your confidence here.

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