1. Things aren’t always going to be easy.
In the words of musical legend (I use the term very, very loosely) Ronan Keating: ‘life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it’.

2. Listen to your orthodontist and wear that post-brace retainer. 
Otherwise, the two years you spent picking food out of your Train Tracks will literally have been for nothing.

3. Experiment with your sexuality if you want to.
If you feel inclined, experiment and explore! Have no fear or shame in getting to know what you like and enjoy!

4. Change is a good thing and you will get way better at dealing with it as you get older.
Life’s magic tends to happen when you are outside of your comfort zone, so embrace change! It might take a while to adjust, but it will be so #worthit.

5. Wearing sunglasses indoors is not cool.
Unless, of course, you are Stevie Wonder.

6. If you can’t already, learn to ask for help. 
Because at some point, just like everybody else, you are going to need it and there is no shame in that.

7. Enjoy being single.
Relationships bring their own challenges; enjoy ‘me time’ and make the most out of being able to eat blocks of cheese in your pants on a Saturday night.

8. Hair will, in most cases, always grow back.
So don’t totally freak out next time you lop off a few too many inches.

9. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Learn to laugh at yourself – I promise you, it will make life SO much easier.

10. Your tastes and opinions will change over time. 

This is a good one to keep in mind when you are considering getting something as permanent as a tattoo. Your adult self might not be as huge of a Britney or Bieber fan as your teenage self:

11. Your life might not end up exactly how you envisaged it.
Okay, so you might not get the law career, the big house and the white picket fence you dreamed of – but that’s fine! When I was four, I thought ‘being a mermaid’ was a tangible career option; needless to say, life under the sea hasn’t quite panned out for me.

12. Some people won’t like you, that’s okay.
Also, don’t change yourself for anybody. Stay true to who you are – people should love you for you, not the person you are trying to be.

13. Stick at that hobby.
It might just turn into an awesome career. Or it may become something to relax you for the rest of your life.

14. Keep a record of all your passwords.
Because I am still grieving the Gmail account I lost access to five years ago. The thought of all those unread emails though…

15. No one will remember that time you *insert embarrassing situation here*. 
It might have seemed absolutely horrifying at the time and you might relive the scene again and again in your head, but trust me when I say, people are far too concerned with themselves to remember that embarrassing thing you did.

16. When you get your heart broken it feels like the end of the world, but it will ALWAYS heal in time.

So try not to waste too much of your young life hung up on the fools who break it.

17. Don’t give time to people who make you feel bad about yourself.
Because backhanded compliments are the worst.

18. Do what you want to do, not what you think you should do.
It might mean taking a risk, but if you feel it is the right thing to do, don’t let anyone stop you.

19. Stop sleeping in.
Sometimes I think of all the great things I could have done instead of sleeping in until midday. If I had spent as much time learning a new instrument as I did napping, I’d be first chair in an orchestra right now.

20. Put your friends before you crush. 
It’s so easy to fall into the relationship bubble where you stop seeing friends and instead spend night after night in your significant other’s arms. But, if your relationship doesn’t work out, you will want those friends there to support you through the break-up. Make sure you spend time with them instead of just watching Netflix 24-7.

21. Listen to your gut instinct.
Trust yourself; that inner voice is so often right.

22. It’s not a race to lose your virginity. 
Really it’s not. Don’t ever feel pressured to have sex just for the sake of being able to say you have lost your virginity. Make sure you are 100% ready by your own standards, no one else’s.

23. Try not to waste time regretting
What’s done is done. You cannot undo the past. Instead of focusing on ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ – look at how you can move forward in a positive way.

Any other things you wish you learnt when you were younger? Let us know in our Community.

self-esteem quiz

Self-Esteem Quiz

Is self-esteem something you need to work on? Or do you have bags of the stuff? Take our self-esteem quiz to see if you’re lacking in self-love…


It’s so important that you embrace who you are and feel comfortable in the skin you’re in. Join our community to talk to someone about ways you can give your self-esteem the boost it needs, or check out these articles:

Plus size style & lifestyle blogger Stephanie Yeboah on how she turned self-hate into self-love

The 25th of July 2012 is a day I’ll never forget.

I was alone, doubled-over in a hospital in Barcelona, violently trying to throw up the remnants of some diet pills that I’d bought online in the hopes that I’d lose a substantial amount of weight. I was 23-years-old and obsessed with staying thin; what was important to me at the time, was that my tummy was flat and I could buy clothes from the main ranges of high street stores. Yet, even though I was the smallest I had ever been, I was suffering from severe depression, low self-esteem and had virtually no self-confidence.

Growing up I’d always been chubby, and up until the age of 10 I was pretty okay with that; I was confident and happy in myself and never gave my size a second thought. It wasn’t until I started secondary school aged 11, that my perception of myself started to change, and the bullying began.

Over the years I would have to endure both verbal and physical abuse from a group of boys at my school. I was beaten up, spat on, chemically burned, sexually harassed and assaulted – all of which resulted in many broken bones, bruises and more significantly, a complete loss of confidence and self-belief. I was told every day at school that I was ‘worthless’ and that no one would ever want to be in a relationship with me, because I was fat and dark skinned. They told me I deserved to be raped, because ‘no one else would take me’ and that I should end my own life because I was a waste of space.

Stephanie now

It was at this point that I first tried to commit suicide. Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful.

School left me resentful of who I was; in my eyes I was fat and grotesque and I honestly thought that no one would ever want, or love me. I thought my size was punishment for something bad I had done in a previous life. I envied girls my age who were smaller than me and having those first-time teenage experiences that I thought I would never have because of my weight. The self-hatred was unbearable. When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I saw an ugly, dark-skinned girl who was going nowhere in life. I saw the person that the people that bullied me, had me believe I was.

This not only had impact on my mental wellbeing, but it also affected my ability to communicate with people; I became quiet, withdrawn and socially awkward in the company of others.

I decided enough was enough; I was sick of being held prisoner in such a body, so I tried to lose weight any way I could by dieting, starving myself, throwing up food I had eaten, taking diet pills and binging on laxatives. I lost four stone, and while I physically looked ‘socially acceptable’, inside I felt disgusting.

The experience in Barcelona was the final straw. I realised that being slim wasn’t everything and that I was damaging my body just like the people that bullied me had done once upon a time. In a sense, I was letting them win. I vowed, that from that day forward I would try my best to be strong, to mend my self-esteem and rebuild my confidence. Of course, it wasn’t easy, and I had help along the way; I saw a therapist and talked about how I was feeling and I was also prescribed anti-depressants to help me through, but eventually, I reached a place where I could finally say I was in love with my body.

I still have days – just like everyone else on this planet – where I am not 100% confident in myself but if you had told me four years ago that I would be comfortable posing in nothing more than a bikini I would have laughed at you. I never, ever thought it possible that I could come to terms with my body, let alone love it and have someone else love it. But I have, and I do and someone else does too!

Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I may not have what society regards as the ‘ideal’ physique but in my eyes, I am good enough.

I am me.

Written by Stephanie Yeboah 


Meet the GRL PWR Gang, a collective of girls set for world domination.

We interviewed Artist/Designer Elizabeth Ilsley, Photographer/Director Millicent Hailes and Marketing Consultant Jessica Riches; just three members of GRL PWR Gang, a collective of influential women who have joined forces to promote female empowerment and support other women working in creative industries. 

Founded by Kirsti Hadley and Kylie Griffiths, the GRL PWR Gang works together to provide opportunities for like-minded women to come together for girl-chat, media networking, creative support, team projects and sharing of ideas.

Their objective is to encourage and inspire other young women to access the creative industries as a potential career path, and plan to pass on their collective knowledge to the next generation of young girls via digital engagement and live events. They will soon host talks and mentor young girls on body image, beauty, feminism, social media and how to access that dream job!


DTL: Our research revealed that 35% of teenage girls believe that their gender will have a negative effect on their career. What are your thoughts on this, based on your experiences?

  • Jessica: It’s true. But if you’re prepared for that, you can be aware of it. Call it out when you see it, know your rights, educate yourself and join any organisations or unions available to you for extra support.
  • Millicent: It’s really sad. There have been shoots in the past where I have been mistaken for the assistant, and my male assistant is assumed to be the photographer, just because he’s an older guy. This has happened before we’ve even set up or spoken to anyone, so it really is based purely on gender, and who is perceived to be the most ‘capable’ or ‘powerful’. It frustrates me, but ignorance isn’t going to keep me from furthering my career.

DTL: Did you ever experience bullying? If so can you tell us what happened and how you dealt with it?

  • Elizabeth: Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I experienced bullying throughout primary and secondary school. I had ginger hair and have a prominent mole next to my mouth, so kids used to tease me constantly about my appearance. I was in such turmoil during that time; I tried to cut my mole off with a razor when I was in Year 8, after a group of boys wouldn’t stop calling me ‘moley’! But my god, I am so glad I never had it removed – having a noticeable mole on my face makes me unique, and it has become one of my favourite features now!
Elizabeth Ilsley
  • Millicent: One of the many times I was suspended at school, was for not intervening in a situation when I was aware that a girl was being bullied. Maybe the teachers thought that, because I was outspoken and confident, I should have stepped in and helped the girl. My mum always tells that story to my little brother and sister who are just starting secondary school – the tale of when their older sister was a coward. I still feel really awful about it now.
  • Jessica: All you have to do is go online to see the disgusting abuse directed at people – particularly women, LGBT+ people and ethnic minorities. I work with a number of bloggers, journalists and celebrities on their personal profiles online, and it makes them want to give up their platform. All you can do is tell them to focus on the people who are positively impacted by their words; they far outweigh the cowardly, unhappy few.

DTL: What advice would you give to someone who may be experiencing bullying right now?

  • Millicent: Tell somebody right away – a problem shared is a problem halved. Don’t isolate yourself, situations seem worse when you feel alone, there are people out there who are going through the same thing as you. More than you think.
  • Jessica: You are not alone. If you can’t get a support network in real life it will definitely exist online – Ditch the Label is a great example of this. You can visit their website and access support at the click of a button if you need to.

DTL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?

  • Elizabeth: You are not ugly. You are as funny and important as everyone else at school. There is no one else like you and life will get really, really fun as soon as you turn 18. Also, stop worrying about the colour of your hair and the socks that you wear.
  • Millicent: Embrace who you are. Wear weird clothes, watch weird movies. You’re great and don’t give a s*&% if someone says otherwise.
Millicent Hailes

DTL: What are your most prominent challenges, and how do you overcome them?

  • Jessica: Being taken seriously as a young woman in business is hard. So many people have said to me ‘you’ve done so much for a girl so young’. They’d never say anything like that if I was a man.

DTL: What is it like to be a woman in 2016 and what needs to change?

  • Jessica: I have a very specific experience of being a woman in 2016, as a straight, white, cis-gendered woman with a degree and a middle-class background. I deal with sexist comments disguised as compliments, and have probably lost out on some income as a result of this – but I’m one of the lucky ones. There are lots of mainstream movements to make life better for women in 2016, but the majority of movements still need to broaden, listen to, and represent the needs of all women, not just those like me.
  • Millicent: Even in 2016 it’s important to remember how far we’ve come together, and how far we still have to go for gender equality and women’s rights.
  • Elizabeth: I want to keep this positive so, to be a woman in 2016 is…fun! Not in every aspect, of course, but in the main, it is incredibly fun! We are free to express ourselves, and there are opportunities out there for us – you just gotta find them.
Jessica Riches

DTL: Is there anything you would like to add?

  • Millicent: I’m always available to speak to anybody that needs my help or advice. I might not be as good as Ditch The Label, but I’m still here!
  • Elizabeth: Enjoy being a woman – it’s a blessing, but don’t hate on men. Men are a blessing too!

Learn more about GRL PWR Gang here: Girls Girls Girls


Read our full Gender Report here: https://www.ditchthelabel.org/gender-report-2016/

Whether you are being bullied, or you are aware of someone who is, Ditch the Label is here to help: https://www.ditchthelabel.org/get-help/