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- 10/22/19--08:37: _Woman reveals what ...
- 10/22/19--09:28: _Fashion Nova is sel...
- 10/22/19--09:35: _Could you give a fo...
- 10/22/19--23:20: _Woman confuses shop...
- 10/23/19--00:21: _Boohoo and CoppaFee...
- 10/23/19--00:30: _Mixed Up: ‘Friends ...
- 10/23/19--00:35: _Job interviewers ma...
- 10/23/19--01:45: _Parents homeschool ...
- 10/23/19--02:13: _Don’t believe what ...
- 10/23/19--02:36: _Irn Bru relaunches ...
- 10/23/19--02:55: _Mum who loved party...
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- 10/23/19--06:53: _Why do people punis...
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- 10/22/19--09:28: Fashion Nova is selling some odd leggings with an open crotch
- 10/22/19--23:20: Woman confuses shoppers by posing with coffin in Amazon dress review
- 10/23/19--02:13: Don’t believe what you read about transition regret
- 10/23/19--02:36: Irn Bru relaunches original 1901 recipe with extra sugar
- 10/23/19--04:11: These are the most popular dog names for 2020
- 10/23/19--05:04: How to keep your fitness routine going when the clocks go back
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- Old Friend – Elderbrook
- Water Therapy
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- 10/23/19--05:17: Teenagers can now get period proof swimming costumes
- 10/23/19--06:53: Why do people punish themselves for masturbating?
Elizabeth Amoaa has a rare condition that means she was born with two vaginas, two cervixes and two wombs.
But she had no idea for most of her life, only finding out five years after her daughter was born.
In 2015, the 36-year-old was diagnosed with uterus didelphys – a congenital abnormality that occurs when two smaller tubes in a female fetus fail to fuse into a single uterus, instead growing into two separate structures.
She had previously been diagnosed with uterine fibroids and doctors told her she was infertile so when she gave birth to Rashley, now nine, she knew she was a miracle baby.
Throughout her pregnancy, her double womb caused problems but neither Elizabeth or her doctors realised it was there.
Elizabeth, who is originally from Ghana, but moved to the UK from France in 2003, said: ‘In 2008 when I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, I was told that conceiving was going to be very difficult for me.
‘They told me I was actually infertile, so when I fell pregnant it was a huge surprise.
‘It was a challenging pregnancy, I was bleeding throughout, fainting and feeling tired.
‘They actually thought it was ectopic pregnancy as they didn’t know I have a double womb, and nor did I.
‘I would go to have a scan, which I had to do frequently because of my fibroids, and one minute they would see the baby is in the womb, then the next they could not find the baby.
‘Sometimes they were scanning the wrong womb, I had 20 scans and no-one pointed out I had a double womb – because it’s so rare they weren’t looking out for it.’
The problems led doctors to suggest Elizabeth should have a termination but she decided to wait and see.
She added: ‘They’d say “We cannot see the baby, maybe the fibroids are hiding the baby” and persisted in saying I should have a termination, but my belly was growing and I realized “actually it’s a baby” and I was determined to carry it to birth.
‘The day my daughter was born was a miracle because during the pregnancy it didn’t feel real.’
Eventually, an MRI scan in 2015 revealed that she actually had two wombs.
Elizabeth said: ‘It was kind of a shock, you want answers to your health but that wasn’t what I was expecting.
‘It was new, I had never heard of anyone born with a double womb, then in 2016 they did keyhole surgery and found I also had two cervixes and two vaginas.’
The surgery also revealed that Elizabeth had stage 5 endometriosis – a painful disorder where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus – on her bladder.
Elizabeth fell pregnant again in 2017 but had a so-called ‘silent miscarriage’ – a miscarriage without bleeding – at four months and had to have a medical abortion and evacuation of the womb to remove the fetus.
The experience inspired her to share her medical history with her daughter.
She said: ‘When I got pregnant I told my daughter “Mommy is pregnant again”, but she was asking me “Why are you always in the hospital?”
‘It was only when I lost the baby and she saw me crying and that I said “Mommy has two wombs”. We had a scan for her last year and she’s fine.’
After her miscarriage, Elizabeth set up Speciallady, an organization dedicated to educating women and young girls on gynaecological conditions and menstrual hygiene.
She said: ‘I always say that Speciallady is my second baby. I want to be the voice of the voiceless for every woman out there who is going through symptoms like what I went through.
‘My condition means that I am high risk of cervical cancer or ovarian cancer, so I decided I wanted to live out my dreams.’
She also travels back to Ghana to work with women where talk of gynaecological issues can still be taboo.
She said: ‘As an African woman, a lot of mothers die needlessly or people think these conditions are witchcraft.
‘I’m now seeking Government agencies in Ghana to work with me now, I take sanitary towels and medical essentials in and talk to them about my experiences, and the response has been amazing.
‘These conditions affect girls as young as nine or ten years old, and they keep it to themselves. And by the time they realize what’s going on, it can be too late.
‘Women shouldn’t keep quiet. So my main focus is giving women that courage and that motivation they need for them to come out about their condition.
Don’t be quiet, don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t feel like you’re the only one that’s suffering. There are so many women out there in the same position.’
Living with two vaginas
It’s always a little bit embarrassing when someone points out that the zipper on your jeans is undone, and you realise you’ve been walking around all day with your underwear on show.
But apparently, Fashion Nova is trying to make it fashion – with a new pair of ‘Bad Intentions’ leggings.
The shiny leggings, which are available in black and burgundy, are seemingly meant to be worn without underwear – or at least with some seriously low rise ones.
The high rise leggings are super stretchy and instead of a zipper have a tie waist, except there’s a massive gap in the middle so you can flash your crotch.
And no, they’re probably not work appropriate.
The leggings cost $27.99 (£21.61) and after being posted to Instagram, were only mocked by a few shoppers – which was a bit of a surprise considering people are often confused by Fashion Nova’s offerings.
In fact, most people loved them.
One person joked that you should probably consider shaving if you’re going to wear the leggings.
However, loads of other people were desperate to buy them, saying how cute they are.
Honestly, while the style is nice, we can’t help but think the whole day would be spent worrying about the tie coming loose, the uncomfortableness of not wearing underwear, the effort they look to actually even put on, and flashing your genitals.
It’s a nice idea, but most likely a no from us.
A bearded dragon who is constantly being overlooked by potential new owners due to her ‘ugly’ appearance is looking for a forever home.
The National Centre for Reptile Welfare has launched a campaign alongside Support Adoption For Pets, to find new owners to come forward and adopt little Stumpy.
When Stumpy was just two years old, her tail was amputated due to an incurable infection, following an injury.
Stumpy arrived at the rescue centre 143 days ago, after her previous owner was no longer able to look after her, and since then, has received no interest from any potential owners.
Believed to be around five years old, Stumpy is often being overlooked by potential owners, who choose to adopt ‘prettier’ pets instead.
This has given Stumpy the title of ‘the ugly ducking’ at the rescue centre.
But the little reptile shouldn’t be overlooked – because what she lacks in tail she makes up with in personality.
She’s a very happy girl, and probably doesn’t even know that her tail is missing.
Rescue volunteers say she gets on with her life as normal, and although she doesn’t tend to interact with other animals, she’s always happy to sit and play with visitors.
And, Stumpy doesn’t get jealous of other bearded dragons who have full tails – she’d very tame and happy-go-lucky.
Rescue volunteers say her tame persona would make her the perfect addition to a household looking for their first pet.
Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet reptiles in the UK, and can live for up to twenty years, although around 12-15 years is the average. Volunteers at the National Centre for Reptile Welfare believe that it’s their tame, almost ‘dog-like’, behavioural traits that make them such appealing pets to families.
Chris Newman, from the National Centre for Reptile Welfare, said: ‘Despite her somewhat unusual appearance, Stumpy has a lot of character and would make a great pet. Sadly, people are quick to make judgements before properly getting to know her. She does everything a normal bearded dragon does – she just does it without a tail!
‘We really hope that a family will come forward soon and give her the loving forever home she deserves.’
In the world of internet shopping, reviews are incredibly helpful.
You can’t see the product in front of you or try it on before you buy it so it’s great to know what other people think or see what it looks like on them.
Most reviews feature a few details and maybe some pictures in a messy bedroom, in front of a full-length mirror.
But shoppers were confused by one woman’s unusual picture with her review for the AUSELILY long sleeve maxi dress, which costs between $17.99 (£13.98) and $23.99 (£18.64)
While talking about a long blue maxi dress she bought on Amazon, the woman posted a picture of herself in the dress, stood next to a coffin.
The post, which is from 2017, was recently spotted and posted on Reddit where shoppers commented on the review.
She clarifies in the written review description that the dress was for father’s funeral.
Her review said: ‘I love this dress! I normally stick with black or muted colors but the royal blue color called to me. I’m so glad I went with that one. It fits great and I love the pockets! I’m 5’ 6″ and about 170lbs, so I wasn’t sure how a dress like this would fit on me, but the fabric hit at all of the right places and with the help of some Spanx, it worked really well.
‘I actually wore it to my father’s funeral and many people commented on how it was the perfect color on me. Would definitely buy again. (I ordered a large!)’
Although commenters on Reddit agreed it’s a nice dress, they just wanted to know why she had decided to add that picture.
One person said: ‘You would think shed have snapped a pic in the mirror at home. What do I know!?’
Another said she was a bit confused about ‘Amazon review etiquette.’
But a funeral director stepped in to defend her.
Their post said: ‘It’s not really considered trashy for a person to grieve in their own way. Most funerals are treated as celebrations of life anyway, as that’s what many people ask for when they die.
‘It’s not like she’s twerking on the casket. It’s a tasteful picture but it’s seen as “super trashy” just because people don’t like to be reminded of death. IMHO.’
We’re just impressed the dress has pockets.
Woman confuses shoppers by posting picture of herself with a coffin in Amazon dress review
Most women know they should be checking their boobs for any lumps or abnormalities, but they don’t always know how to.
For that reason, online fashion store Boohoo has teamed up with breast cancer charity CoppaFeel! to launch a bra with a subtle pattern to help you check properly.
The idea for the life-saving lingerie came from creative agency AMV BBDO and Joyride.
They teamed up to create the bras and matching pants with three different patterns, each showing a way to check your breasts but reminding you that you need to check right up to your armpit and collarbone.
It is better to check your breasts without a bra but the idea is that the lingerie gives you a guide to help you know where to check.
Spotting any changes in your boobs is important to ensure any problems are picked up as early as possible.
How the bras work
The three bras work by giving a guide on how to check your boobs.
To check, follow the pattern over your whole chest, up to your collarbone and under your armpit. (The checking itself should be done with the bra off, once you’ve familiarised yourself with the pattern.)
There is a choice of three patterns. There is no better or worse one to follow – each of them provides a different way of checking and learning about what feels normal for you. Which is important, because when you know what feels normal, you can tell when something doesn’t.
Once you’ve checked once, remembering to do it again should be easier, because the pattern will remind you to every time you pick up the bra.
The star pattern comes with Brazilian knickers, the zig-zag with high waist knickers and the zebra print comes with a thong.
Carol Kane, joint founder of Boohoo said: ‘We have worked with CoppaFeel! In the past and it is a charity close to our hearts. We were delighted to have been chosen as the e-commerce partner for the ‘Life Saving Lingerie’ project and hope we can help spread the positive message around the importance of checking your breasts through our platforms.’
Kris Hallenga, founder of CoppaFeel! added: ‘We’re really pleased for the opportunity to spread our message with Life Saving Lingerie.
‘CoppaFeel! Exists to stamp out the late detection of breast cancer by educating young people about their boobs and encourage them to get anything abnormal checked out.’
You can also find more information about checking your boobs on the Coppafeel! website.
Boohoo launches bra with Coppafeel with pattern that guides you on how to check your boobs properly
Tiegan Byrne is an actress from Lancashire. She says she gets laughed at for acting ‘too white’, but she thinks your identity isn’t about how other people see you.
‘My mum was born in Liverpool and my Dad is from Leeds. My mum’s parents are from Cork in southern Ireland, and my Dad’s parents are from Kingston in Jamaica,’ Tiegan tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Both sets of my grandparents came over to England for the same reason – a better quality of life. It just so happens that they came from different parts of the world.’
Tiegan says she looks like both her parents. She says she has an uncanny resemblance to her mum, but that’s often difficult for people to accept.
‘I have colour in my skin like my Dad, and the freckles of my Irish mum,’ she explains. ‘I have most of my mum’s features. Those who know me, constantly tell how much I look my mum.
‘We have the same curly hair (but mine is black and hers is ginger), we have the same smile, nose and shape of face. We look very alike.
‘So, it never fails to surprise me how when people look at us, often they are shocked we are related.
‘I remember being eight years old, and on a holiday in Jamaica. Whilst in the airport on the trip home, mum and I were separated by the security guards. I was taken into a room and repeatedly asked (nicely) who I was travelling with.
‘I replied, “My mum,” obviously. But, the security guards struggled to believe me, and I have vivid memories of them encouraging me to be honest with them.’
Tiegan says that at the time she was completely oblivious to what was happening, and the severity of it. But the discomfort she could sense in her mum is still fresh in her mind.
‘It was an intense, uncomfortable situation for her,’ recalls Tiegan.
‘How crazy and unbelievable that in this day and age, a white woman cannot be believed to have a mixed-race child. It frustrates, angers and confuses me.’
Tiegan was raised by her mum in a white, suburban area in Lancashire.
‘I went to church on Sundays with my mum and grandparents. I went to a very academic school, it was a very safe neighbourhood,’ says Tiegan.
She says that she feels her upbringing is world’s away from the images of black culture we repeatedly see in the media – which is more often urban and working class. But Tiegan doesn’t think that there’s one “right” way to be black.
‘I don’t know a single thing about black music, I have never tried any traditional Caribbean food. The most I know about black history is what I learnt in school,’ says Tiegan. ‘Do I identify with it? Yes. Because I know it must have affected members of my family, but have I seen it or witnessed it? No.
‘This is something that I only thought of as strange when I turned eighteen and moved to London. Suddenly, it was thought of as abnormal that I didn’t know “my” culture, “my” music, “black food”.
‘But surely, my culture is my mum’s culture. But I was consistently told that I needed to learn about my black roots.’
When Tiegan moved to London she made a more diverse group of friends for the first time in her life, but she says that they didn’t always make her feel entirely welcome.
‘I will admit I constantly felt like the butt of the joke. I didn’t understand “black girl problems,”‘ she explains.
‘The issues of having a weave, or how to gel your hair, for example. Or the difference between the taste of jerk chicken and curry goat. I had never heard of Bammy. I had never listened to Bob Marley. And I still, to this day, do not understand what a weave is.
‘I have so many questions for black and mixed-race people, but never felt like I could ask them because I would be alienating myself even more.’
Tiegan understands that there is a knowledge-gap there, and it makes sense. She had a very different upbringing to a lot of her new friends and hugely different cultural experiences.
But what she doesn’t like is the fact that she is ridiculed for being different to them, or the occasional implications that she is ‘too white’.
‘There’s a joke within a group of my friends that there are white people who are blacker than me. And I find this very interesting and very bizarre,’ Tiegan tells us.
‘It’s kind of a sly dig at my upbringing and my interests. Mostly I find it a really irritating joke because it suggests that there are people better at being me than me.
‘How can someone who is not at all black, be blacker than me, when I’m part black? It’s a crazy concept and I know people say it to annoy me.
‘Whether you like it or not, I am part black. Nobody can take away that my Dad is black, regardless of the fact that I my interests don’t always fit your stereotypes.
‘Sometimes I think – maybe it’s true, maybe I’m not as black as I should be. So, I laugh along at the joke. Sometimes I feel like I’m letting my black side down. But I can’t change who I am.’
‘Another joke my friends have is that I can have my “black card” taken away depending on what I do. It may be do a stupid dance, or flirting with the wrong person, sometimes something as stupid as ordering a Prosecco. Something very me.
‘So they take away my “black card”. Because I no longer deserve to be black, because what I did was “unblack”.
‘I’m sorry, do black people not like Prosecco or doing stupid dances? And where is this handbook I apparently need to read? It constantly frustrates and upsets me, because, once again, I’m the butt of the joke. And it’s ridiculous to think that you have to act a certain way to be black.’
It hasn’t been entirely plain sailing with her white friends either.
Looking back, Tiegan can identify some problematic and othering remarks from the people closest to her growing up and, although she doesn’t believe the intention was ever malicious, the effect it had on her was very real.
‘I realise that when I look back at pictures of my childhood, or think back to important memories I see a sea of white faces,’ says Tiegan.
‘I am always the only non-white person in that picture, or in my immediate family, or in my group of friends.
‘I sometimes feel like those pictures and friendships would be so much more aesthetically pleasing without me there, the family would fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. But I am there, and that will never change.
‘And no one wants it to change, I know that. At this point, I am so used to being the only ethnic person in a white room.
‘In fact, I have never lived in a house with another person of colour, I have never kissed or dated a person of colour. I am constantly surrounded by white people and usually, I don’t think twice about it.
‘Growing up, my white friends would ask to touch my hair, or they would say; “Wow, you’re so brown.” I didn’t see it as racism at the time, but these comments have separated me from feeling like I’m part of the group.’
Tiegan says that dating white guys has thrown up its fair share of problems too. She says she is frequently approached by men who tell her that mixed-race girls are their ‘type’. What a chat-up line.
‘Once, a boy I was dating said: “You have the body of a black girl, but the mind of a white girl.” I ended the relationship immediately – out of shock, anger and discomfort,’ says Tiegan.
‘I’ve been told I am the perfect balance – the curves of a black girl, but more personality than a white girl, a bigger bum than a white girl, but not as “overwhelming” as a black girl. Men tell me this and think it’s a compliment, I find it disgusting, insulting and degrading.’
Tiegan is a working actress. A tough, unpredictable job for anybody. But she says that being mixed-race puts her at an advantage in some respects due to the current cultural ‘coolness’ of being racially ambiguous.
‘Being mixed has helped, improved and driven my career,’ explains Tiegan. ‘Being mixed raced is very fashionable at the moment, and it has got me into hundreds of rooms in just over a year since I graduated.
‘Which is almost unheard of for my fellow actors I have trained with. I am beyond grateful, excited and enthusiastic about my career.’
But there are also some specific drawbacks that come with having Tiegan’s look in the world of acting. She often feels forced down a path dictated by narrow assumptions about her abilities and casting potential.
‘I have always wanted to learn to do a Newcastle accent, but I was repeatedly told that it was “not my casting.”
‘They said nobody would expect to see a Geordie mixed-race girl on their TV, and that I should learn a London accent or an African accent instead.
‘When I disagreed with other black actors or teachers that I wasn’t interested in Nigerian accents, instead I wanted a Geordie or a Scottish accent – they were genuinely speechless. They seemed hurt and confused.
‘Teachers told me there was no point in me learning northern accents, that I’d never be asked to do it. I am still baffled by that assertion. I am a perfect example of a northern, Liverpudlian, mixed-raced girl – why shouldn’t I be?
‘Acting is completely about stereotypes. The stereotype of a mixed-raced girl, I have found, is either young and pregnant, doing drugs, or very working class.
‘I have been asked more times than I can count to be seen for a role as a mixed, cocaine-addicted, young mum. Which is a damaging stereotype.
‘But we are so much more than our stereotypes. I am mixed-race, I am intellectual, passionate and an adventurous romantic. But I am very rarely seen for a role of that nature.’
Tiegan is proud of who she is, from the ginger tints in her black, curly hair, to the stories of her family members from all over the world. What she wants is for people to stop making assumptions about who she is based on how black or white they perceive her to be.
‘I think the world has a long way to go to completely accepting that being mixed-race is more than just having brown skin,’ says Tiegan.
‘Being mixed has its own culture and way of being.
‘There are no sides, you can’t be blacker or more white depending on your upbringing and your heritage isn’t something that people can take away from you.’
Mixed Up is our weekly series that gets to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.
Going beyond discussions of divided identity, this series takes a look at the unique joys, privileges and complexities that come with being mixed-race - across of variety of different contexts.
The mixed-race population is the UK's fastest-growing ethnic group, and yet there is still so much more to understand about the varied lived experiences of individuals within this hugely heterogenous group.
Each week we speak to the people who know exactly how it feels to navigate this inbetween space.
During one of the first job interviews I had after I graduating university, I nervously exclaimed ‘I done a English degree,’ the grammatical error ironic, given the contents of the sentence.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get the job. While it may have been a result of several factors, my absent-minded blunder probably hindered my chances too. Or perhaps it was the first seven words I uttered.
Researchers at Yale University found that interviewers often make assumptions based on class from the first few words said by candidates.
The results from five studies conducted by scientists found that employers not only make snap judgments, they then use it to assess the person’s ability to carry out the job.
And even worse news – interviewers are dismissing candidates from working-class backgrounds within the first few seconds of introduction.
The study, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also showed that people can identify with ‘above accuracy’, a stranger’s socioeconomic position from a brief speech pattern.
These snap perceptions then influence hiring managers in ways that favour applicants from higher social classes.
‘Our study shows that even during the briefest interactions, a person’s speech patterns shape the way people perceive them, including assessing their competence and fitness for a job,’ said Michael Kraus, a professor of organisational behaviour at Yale.
‘While most hiring managers would deny that a job candidate’s social class matters, in reality, the socioeconomic position of an applicant or their parents is being assessed within the first seconds they speak — a circumstance that limits economic mobility and perpetuates inequality.’
The researchers based their findings on five separate studies. The first four examined the extent that people accurately perceive social class based on a few seconds of speech.
The fifth study examined how these speech cues influence hiring.Can Cain accept Nate as his son after Emmerdale explosion?
There were 300 participants involved in the study, 20 of whom were ‘prospective employees’ and the rest ‘hiring managers’, recruiting for an entry-level lab manager position at Yale.
Hiring managers were asked to assess the candidates’ professional qualities, starting salary, signing bonus, and perceived social class.
Their only material was the candidate’s brief pre-interview discussion, either via an audiotape or by reading a transcript.
Those who listened to the audio recordings were more likely to accurately assess socioeconomic status than those who read transcripts, according to the study.
The research showed that pronunciation in an individual’s speech made it easier to judge an applicant’s social status more accurately than the content of their speech.
Professor Kraus concluded that employers must be cognizant of these unconscious biases.
‘If we want to move to a more equitable society, then we must contend with these ingrained psychological processes that drive our early impressions of others.
‘Despite what these hiring tendencies may suggest, talent is not found solely among those born to rich or well-educated families.
‘Policies that actively recruit candidates from all levels of status in society are best positioned to match opportunities to the people best suited for them.’
Group of unrecognizable candidates waiting for a job interview.
Stay-at-home mum, Taylor Catron, 24, from Ohio and her husband, Derek, 28, wanted their children to eschew the traditional schooling route.
Instead of sending them to a public or private school, they decided to homeschool them.
They pulled out their oldest child, Dereon, now seven, out of school in 2016 when they were researching primary schools.
Since then they have had three other children; Aerityy, three, Aeviny, one, and Derek James, who is just eight months old.
Unlike the structure of school life, Taylor and Derek don’t enforce any strict timings and give themselves the freedom to choose their sources.
Their classes involve regular hikes in the city, visiting cultural places like the Cincinnati Children’s Museum, Contemporary Arts Centre and the Cincinnati Zoo.
The biggest educational tool the parents/teachers use for their children is Netflix, where they watch many nature and historical documentaries.
Taylor and Derek felt that the average American education doesn’t teach important parts of African history.
Their children also have some control over what they consume and are allowed to pick out documentaries to watch. Some of the top picks include Our Planet, Life Story, Abstract, Oceans, and Blue Planet.
They also use YouTube as a source and while the parents do allocate a few times a week on using workbooks or worksheets, they don’t spend more than 30 minutes to an hour on it.
‘We let the kids pretty much take charge; whatever they ask about or want to know about is what our lesson will be or what we plan for a future lesson,’ said Taylor.
‘We eventually want to school them around the world and travel to different countries and continents and learn about everything literally on the go.
‘We want them to learn through real-life, there so many lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom of thirty-eight.
‘There’s so much not taught in schools that we want our children to learn and I don’t believe in standardised testing and all that hoopla.
‘What we do works really well for us and our children are so smart people are always amazed after having conversations with them. It’s the best choice we’ve made for our children.’
It means Taylor and Derek have some control of the rich African American history they want their children to learn about.
Taylor added: ‘Mostly what we find unappealing about traditional school is that it’s all about standardised testing and regurgitating information.
‘You’re not there to learn you’re there to recite information and get good test scores. Not to mention all the important things that they don’t teach, like accurate historical events and African American culture and history’
While they are enjoying homeschooling, the parents do worry about their childrens’ social lives. But for the most part, the kids have enough friends to see as Taylor and Derek ensure they are able to meet others their own age.
They also cite Finland as having one of the best education systems in the world without having lots of tests and classroom time.
Taylor said: ‘Children aren’t meant to sit down and be still and quiet for six to eight hours a day. They are supposed to run around and touch things and ask a billion silly questions.
‘To anyone who might criticise this style of education I say, just because we do things differently doesn’t mean we’re wrong or not effectively educating our children.’
Home schooling family uses netflix documentaries to teach children
I was 18 years old when I first came out as transgender.
I’d been harbouring it for as long as I can remember, but wasn’t properly able to articulate it until then. I simply didn’t know that it was a thing, or that there were other people like me.
Even when I did tell everyone and started living as myself, there was still a lot of shame, secrecy and fear about being transgender. One of the biggest fears surrounding it was the possibility of regret, or regretting undergoing hormone therapy and genital surgery.
Some people thought that I was simply a gay man who was a bit confused, and that I’d end up regretting this all later on if I went through with it. I knew I wasn’t a gay man, and I was fortunate enough to be raised in an environment where I could have easily come out as one. That just wasn’t me. For me (and for transgender people in general) it was never about who I was attracted to, or my sexual orientation.
It was about who I was and who I knew myself to be. Being able to medically transition was life-saving for me.
The discussion around regretting transitioning has been rearing its head recently. Various stories about individual cases have been used as an example, casting doubt on healthcare for transgender people.
A recent story hit the headlines where a person claimed there are hundreds of people wanting to detransition – but there are no numbers that indicate this.
The use of ‘increase in referrals’ to medical transitioning is often used with statistics that sound quite high, but they are never put into context of the general population. Even with increased numbers of referrals, the number of trans people are still just around one percent of the population in the UK. More referrals simply means there are more people seeking this type of health care. It doesn’t mean that everyone who is referred undergoes a medical transition.
Getting access to these types of services is actually really difficult, and people have to wait several years for a single appointment at a gender identity clinic. So claims that someone can just enter a clinic and get hormones and surgery quite easily simply aren’t true.
I would never diminish or question someone’s experience who says they regretted their medical transition. There are those who do, and they deserve to be believed. But their stories and experiences should never be used to advocate against health care that has benefitted the lives of thousands of people across the UK and beyond. It should never be used as a reason not to allow people to transition.
One of the comparisons I have to this is when women who have regretted having an abortion are used to advocate against them. It’s an illogical argument, as the benefits of safe abortions outweigh the possibility of regret, much like with transgender health care.
Medically transitioning is life-saving for some transgender people. The number of people who experience regret with transgender related surgery is actually really low according to recent research in the Netherlands (between 0.3 and 0.6 percent) and much lower than regret rates for various surgeries such as knee arthroplasty or cosmetic procedures.
When it comes to any surgery, there is always the risk of regret and there will always be people who regret surgeries for a multitude of reasons.
A large portion of people who experience regret about medically transitioning do so because of the social rejection they face when they come out as transgender.
Research done at the gender clinic in the Netherlands showed that between 1972-2015, a total of 14 people experienced regret. Half of them said it was because of social rejection or the fact they identify as non-binary and not as a trans woman or a trans man.
Trans people face stigma and discrimination in their day to day lives and are often rejected from their families, lose their jobs or experience bullying and violence for simply being trans. For some this is simply too much, and they feel they have no choice but to retreat and conform to society’s expectations of them.
Another reason people might regret genital surgery is because they simply aren’t satisfied with the results. Like with any surgery, there are things that can go wrong. Genital surgery is far from perfect, especially surgery for transgender men and trans masculine people.
For some it was a journey they had to take that ultimately wasn’t the right one for them. People can only make choices based on the knowledge they have at any given time, so of course there will be people who had to go on a journey to discover who they are. It doesn’t always necessarily mean they aren’t trans or that the journey they went on was wrong, but something they felt they needed to do.
Such binary terms as in, blanket regret versus no regret, do the whole topic a disservice, ignoring the nuances of our gendered experience.
By allocating more resources into transgender health care, whether that be with increasing the quality of psychological care and hormone treatments or making advancements in genital surgery, regret rates will inevitably decrease. By fighting against stigma and prejudice that keeps trans people from living their lives in peace as who they know themselves to be, regret rates will also decrease.
The vast majority of people reap the rewards of medically transitioning. I went from being seen as a depressed, shy and reserved teenager to being an active, social and outgoing person. I started participating in life with enthusiasm, I started to tend to my hobbies, I did better at school. I became someone who was finally excited for life.
The change was so apparent to those around me. My family were finally able to get to know me properly, and even family members that had been quite prejudiced towards transgender people had a real change of heart. They saw that I was finally happy, so how could that be a bad thing?
I now have a partner whom I love very much, we live in a nice little house together, and we talk about having kids and getting a cat or another dog. We have hopes, fears, and aspirations about the future — but the difference is that now I don’t have to worry about not being myself.
So let’s not forget the bigger picture here, and the thousands of people that benefit from being able to medically transition and undergoing genital surgery. This doesn’t mean we’re not going to talk about those that experience regret.
We have to be able to have more nuanced and frank discussions about health care for transgender people, without regret being used to jeopardise the well-being of people who need transgender related health care.
Only that way can we truly create well-rounded solutions and health care that minimises the chance of regret, and allows everyone the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.
Irn Bru fans rejoice – a limited edition version of the iconic drink is set to be released, and it uses the original recipe.
Irn Bru 1901 is based on the prototype recipe first created more than 100 years ago and it features loads of extra sugar. Bad news for your teeth, but good news for your taste buds.
You might remember that in 2018 Irn Bru halved its sugar content when the Government introduced a sugar tax, and people were not happy.
But bosses have said that this old-school recipe will be ‘like nothing anyone has tasted before’ – and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
The authentic old recipe was discovered in a handwritten book stored deep in the company’s archives, and to add to the old-timey experience, the new drink will be served in glass bottles.
If you’re a hard-core Bru lover, don’t worry – the ‘secret flavour essence’ won’t be changed, this is simply a variation on the classic.
‘The 1901 recipe has aged beautifully over the last 118 years,’ says Robin Barr, who unearthed the recipe.
‘For a limited time, we’ll be producing a premium ‘old and unimproved’ Irn-Bru 1901 just as it was enjoyed by our first fans.
‘This is Irn Bru as you’ve never tasted it. It’s a chance to enjoy a unique and authentic piece of Scottish history – but don’t hang about, we don’t think it will be around for long.’
Irn Bru stans have been known to go to great lengths to get their hands on the pre-sugar tax version of the drink, with out-of-date cans of the original recipe drink on eBay selling on eBay for £100 or more.
Luckily, the 1901 version will cost just £2, and it will be available from 2 December.
Original Irn Bru coming back in Scotland
Just because you’ve settled down and had kids, doesn’t mean you have to give up partying.
One mum loved raving so much, she decided to set up a business that meant she could bring her baby along too.
Faye Kenny, 32, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, hosted her first event for newborns after giving birth to her son Ziah, now seven, as she could not return to her old job in performing arts and needed some cash.
Now, BoomChikkaBoom hosts raves for groups of 10 to 600 parents and babies and she has even posted parties for celebrity couples like footballer Peter Crouch and model Abbey Clancy.
Before falling pregnant, Faye was an art teacher but in her spare time, she loved house music and the club scene.
Faye, who is also stepmum to her electrician partner Antony Dacres’ two children, said: ‘I was pretty hardcore and when I became pregnant with Ziah I carried on working.
‘But I found out I had a heart condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, when the heart muscle becomes stretched and thin.
‘A lot of my work was physical and it wasn’t good to have my heart rate so high whilst I was pregnant, so I had to give it up.’
After Ziah was born, Faye found it hard to make friends with similar interests who also had kids – and it led to a whole new career.
She said: ‘I was the first in my friendship group to have children, so I didn’t really have anyone I connected with.
‘I found the mum and baby groups to be really cliquey and a bit old school, so when my brother suggested I try throwing a baby rave I thought it was a brilliant idea.
‘I got a friend to make some flyers and posted them on my personal Facebook page and asked my friends and family to share it.
‘I didn’t have a business page or a business plan or anything like that, and it sold out in less than a week.
‘I had my whole family helping out. I used their cars to transport stuff to the venue in Leeds, my grandma helped out with sewing material for me to have on the floor.
‘The feedback was amazing. I thought, “If I can sell this many tickets in a week how many will I sell in a month?”‘
Faye uses clubs across Leeds, hiring them during the day when they are usually empty.
She then creates themed raves for parents to enjoy as much as the children.
At first, she hired the sound system and lights but as the company grew, she reinvested the money to buy the equipment.
Now they have a snow machine, bubble machine and disco lights to create the ultimate party atmosphere and charge on average £6 for an adult and child, and £2 for additional children to take part.
‘We’ve had a Take That versus a Spice Girls rave, and reggae, rock, old school, trap, metal, RnB themes. We’ll do a Halloween remix and in August we held a Pride rave, where everybody came dressed in rainbow colours,’ she said.
‘It’s a question of working out what people want and adapting it.
‘We react to the crowd and change things up if we need to, which is why it’s so good. They last between one to three hours.
‘The kids get a real confidence boost from it. It’s good to help bring children out of their shells.
‘We cater for the child’s development, but also tap into what the adults like. It could be that they recognise the songs, which gives them a bit of who they were back before they became Mum and Dad.’
After a friend suggested she could do with a more permanent base, especially as she was acquiring more equipment, in April, Faye took over a unit in a warehouse in Leeds after raising £7,000 using crowdfunding to get it off the ground.
As well as hosting baby raves at festivals, BoomChikkaBoom holds mini raves and activity days in shopping centres, drama classes, messy play sessions, cinema screenings for parents and children, and themed events for Halloween, Mother’s Day and Christmas.
And, after a suggestion from one of the parents, they now host raves at care homes and respite centres for adults with learning disabilities.
Faye has also branched into high end children’s birthday parties, hosting one for Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy’s daughter at their Surrey home.
‘We did a rave in their back garden, with an inflatable igloo,’ Faye recalled.
Now Faye employes 10 members of staff and is booked out until January.
She added: ‘We are still investing in the company so having our own venue is stepping it up a notch.
‘I never had a business plan for this, I never set out to do this and really make money from it. It was something to do while I had a baby because there was nothing else like it.
‘As a parent, I still go to the events the company hosts when I’m not running them, because I know I will like it.
‘I thought it would be for a short time while I had my son, but I’ve built it up and now I’m so passionate about it.’
Savvy mum launches business throwing raves for babies via a Facebook post
Remember when postcards were all the rage? For one son going to Benidorm, it was the most convenient way to let his parents know he arrived safely in Spain.
But sadly for Jim Green, 66, it took 28 years for the note to be sent to his parents’ home in Braintree, Essex.
The then-39-year-old had written it in September 1991 and expected that it would get to them as soon as possible.
Now living in his parents’ former home, Jim was stunned to receive the postcard last week.
The letter, dated September 12, 1991, read: ‘To Mum and Dad. Had a good flight over. Everything’s ok. Good hotel, weather etc. Weather has been very hot. Hope cats are ok. Must close now, love Jim.’
The postcard arrived on Thursday morning, 17 October while Jim was watching TV. Unfortunately, his parents have since passed so couldn’t share his surprise at the discovery.
Jim explained: ‘I picked up the letter and my first thought was “who is in Benidorm?” Then I looked at the date and realised it was 28 years late! I was amazed!
‘Then I realised that I had written it to tell my parents I had arrived to Benidorm safely.’
Jim explained that he would enjoy travelling when he was younger and would send postcards to his parents.
Though he can’t remember writing this one, he presumes it was sent quite early on in his Spanish travels.
‘With these kind of things, you always say it’s a great holiday but actually it wasn’t good at all!’ he recalled.
Jim’s mum Winifred, died five years ago and his father, Christopher, died in 1997.
Jim added: ‘My dad would have just said: “Well that’s just the post for you!”
‘They never really went abroad on holiday, they used to go to the seaside at Clacton or Maldon or go on coach trips. I think at the time there weren’t many people that went away for holidays.
‘I suppose it gave them an idea of what Benidorm looked like.’
Generations of Jim’s family have lived in the Essex neighbourhood of Finchingfield, going back as far as the mid 1800s.
Jim lived with his parents before taking over the tenancy of the family house after his mother died.
Although the surprise delivery certainly put on a smile on Jim’s face, he is still none the wiser as to why it appeared on his doormat so late.
He added: ‘I don’t know why it arrived after this length of time. Whether it got lost over here or whether it got lost over here, I don’t know.
‘I’m still trying to figure out why the delay was that long, I don’t think we’ll ever know what really happened. I think it would be pretty hard to trace it back.’
The postcard, which has pictures of sunny Benidorm on the front, now takes pride of place on his mantlepiece next to a Victorian clock owned by Jim’s grandfather.
A spokesman for Royal Mail said: ‘It is difficult to speculate what may have happened to this item of mail, but it is likely that it was put back into the postal system by someone recently, rather than it being lost or stuck somewhere.
‘Royal Mail regularly checks all its delivery offices and clears its processing machines daily. Once an item is in the postal system then it will be delivered to the address on the card.’
Man receives postcard - 28 YEARS after he sent it to his parents to let them know he?d arrived safely in Spain
It’s normally children that are bad influences on their parents, but in this case it was definitely the other way around.
A story has recently gone viral, with a photo of Maine fourth-grader Jake Arsenault’s school ID card getting tens of thousands of people talking.
It all starts on Jake’s picture day, where he’d be photographed for his ID at Biddeford Intermediate School.
His parents, Craig and Kari, goaded him to make things a bit more interesting, and dug out a hot dog Halloween costume Jake had worn a few years earlier.
They bet him $10 to wear the costume for the photograph, and even wrote a permission slip for his teachers just in case they weren’t happy with the prank.
Telling HuffPost, Craig says: ‘My wife Kari just blurted out that he should wear it. Jake didn’t want to at first, so I told him I’d give him 10 bucks to do it, as it would be hysterical.’
And boy did he come through, with the absolute trooper donning the outfit once the cameras came out.
‘I’m not too surprised he went through with it, as Jake is a fun-loving, outgoing kid, and is usually the funnier out of the three of our kids,’ said Craig.
From there, Craig posted the picture of the ID on his professional Facebook page, which he uses as part of his job as an army recruiter.
Alongside work-related posts, he adds a few personal ones to show his fun side, and he certainly did that with Jake’s japes.
The picture has now been shared 32,000 times, liked over 7,000 times, and it boasts over 4,000 comments. Basically, people really enjoyed it.
It’s also been featured on news outlets across the US, catapulting Jake to instant fame.
‘I’m incredulous as to how far and fast this has gone. Never in a million years did I think this would ever happen,’ Craig said.
Definitely worth the price of the costume.
Parents dare kid to dress as hot dog for school ID photo, and he comes through big time
After a long day at work, there’s nothing like sinking into a hot bath full of bubbles.
But there could be a way to make it even better.
Imagine lying back to relax with your favourite tub of ice cream floating by your side.
To celebrate the launch of the Cherry Garcia flavour in the lower calorie Moo-phoria range, Ben & Jerry’s is giving away specially designed bath floats for you to sit your ice cream in.
Described as the ‘must-have accessory for dedicated ice-cream fans’ the inflatable float is the perfect place to set your tub as you relax and there’s even a slot for your spoon.
Of course, the hot water will eventually soften the ice cream so make sure you don’t leave it in there for too long.
To get your hands on one, you need to submit your details online or you can get one free when you buy a scoop of Moo-phoria at the Ben & Jerry’s Soho Scoop Shop in London.
The online promotion is available from today but you can’t get one in store until 28 October, but you better be quick because the floats are only available while stocks last.
And one person will get an added bonus with their float – a Ben & Jerry’s ‘Inside Scoop’ card, which gives the holder unlimited chunks and swirls from their Soho Scoop Shop for a whole year.
Tsega Abate, Flavour Guru at Ben & Jerry’s said: ‘Our Moo-phoria range is so light it can almost float… So we decided to help it along by creating the Tub Floaty!
‘You know that dream you keep having where you’re floating face up in the serene waters of your local bathtub whilst also simultaneously spooning into delightfully chunky ice cream as puppies start to fall softly from the skies?
‘Well this is it, minus the puppies. Now you and your tubs can both float merrily alongside one another in an ice cream-filled haze.’
Choosing what to call your dog is a big decision.
Your new four-legged friend is about to become a huge part of your life and you need a name that encapsulates both their personality and your interests as an owner.
A bad name can lead to some awkward interactions in the park (you’ll likely get some funny looks for screaming ‘Mr. Snufflebum’ at the top of your lungs across the field), so it’s important to choose wisely.
New data has predicted what the most popular names for our puppy pals are likely to be next year, and popular culture has had a big influence.
The figures from dog chew brand, Tasty Bone, has revealed that almost one in five dogs were named after a film character in the last year.
Marvel and DC characters are favoured, with Jarvis and Loki popular last year, as well as Harley, which could get an extra boost in popularity after the release of Birds of Prey featuring admired villain Harley Quinn.
The final instalment of the Avengers franchise smashed Box Office records in April, and a new TV show based on Loki has just been announced by Marvel, which could mean a further increase in popularity for this name in 2020.
Luke also featured after another Star Wars film came out last year and, with The Rise of Skywalker scheduled to be released in December, the name is probably going to keep popping up.
Disney inspired names are also very common, and Coco became the second most popular dog name in 2018, shortly after the film of the same name was released.
Frozen 2 is set to hit screens in November and whilst Elsa charted at number 85 last year with 2% of dogs having the name, this is likely to increase next year.
The top dog names for 2020
The predicted name trends for 2020 are:
Two per cent of Tasty Bone customers have also named their dogs Simba, and the name Lady placed 47 in a popular dog name list last year.
With the release of live action remakes of Lion King and Lady and the Tramp this year, it’s expected that even more owners will favour these names for their new pooch.
The Twilight craze led to Bella topping the pet name charts for both dogs and cats the year the final instalment was released, and it’s still the second most popular puppy name seven years later.
Charlie was in the top 10 for the last two years and, with the long-awaited release of Charlie’s Angels later this year, this name is expected to top the charts once again.
As well as movie characters, we also love naming our dogs after celebrities.
The rise of Cardi B in 2018 led to three times more dogs being given the same name as the star, and a total of one in seven dogs share their names with a celebrity.
Millie Bobby Brown’s award-winning performance this year in Stranger Things is expected to bring pup name, Millie, back into the limelight – it was the 10th most popular dog name two years ago.
Maggie Smith’s return to the big screen as the much-loved Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey is sure to put this pet name back in the limelight, and help it make a comeback from the top five in 2015.
So, if you want a truly original pet name, it might be best to think beyond the silver screen.
Border Terrier dog with toy, Norfolk
The clocks are about to change. Don’t worry it’s the good one – the one where you get a glorious extra hour in bed.
But the bad news is that our mornings are about to get even darker. The kind of impenetrable winter darkness that makes you wonder if the sun will ever rise again.
And it can make getting out of bed any earlier than absolutely necessary basically impossible. Bad news for your workout schedule.
As we lose our daylight we often lose our motivation to stay active too. And while hibernation seems appealing, it can really impact your mental and physical health if you’re not doing enough fitness.
According to research by health and wellness app, MINDBODY, 55 per cent of people who exercise frequently say they are least motivated to exercise during autumn.
‘It is that time of year where temperatures get a lot colder and we get a lot less sunshine,’ explains sports performance mind coach Nick Davies.
‘This can lead to low mood in some people and a desire to curl up in the warmth of our own homes, meaning the likelihood of going to the gym is a lot less than in warmer months.’
Marvin Burton, Head of Fitness at Anytime Fitness UK, has shared with us his techniques for keeping your fitness regime firing even as the depths of winter take of hold.
Try home exercise programs
Home workouts help to reduce travel time to the gym.
Additionally, they aren’t weather dependent and can be cost effective. Investing in home-friendly pieces of equipment such as a kettlebell, medicine ball or Swiss ball offers a great way to introduce physical activity to the start of the day.
Switch up your schedule
Although you may already have a routine, why not swap a midweek workout for a weekend workout to give yourself an additional day of training in the daylight?
Try different forms of exercise
Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts follow summer and winter training programs.
Usually, the winter sessions are resistance (weights) based which typically take up less time and can be performed in a gym.
This type of exercise also builds and focuses on other areas of strength required for endurance and outdoor events.
Increase the intensity and reduce your workout time
Many people now use higher intensity exercise, such as HIIT, to reach and maintain their goals.
Working harder and smarter may help and improve your fitness this winter, allowing you to hit the gym later in the morning and cling onto the daylight a little bit longer.
Focus on your nutrition and recovery
When it is cold and dark, we usually crave warmer foods and drinks, subsequently meaning we need to make changes to our diets.
During the winter it’s likely you’ll need to spend more time cooking and preparing.
While you may not have the enthusiasm to get up and hit the gym when the mornings are dark, you could use the time to prepare food, stretch and work on other aspects of your health.
Pick a motivational workout playlist
The perfect playlist
Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to hit your fitness goals, or you’re in need of a little energy boost mid-cardio, the right music could be the missing ingredient in your workout.
‘Music is excellent for motivation and can definitely help with endurance during exercise,’ explains Professor Andy Lane, sports psychologist at The University of Wolverhampton.
‘Listening to music can enhance your mood and help divert your attention away from feeling tired or bored which can often arise through the repetitiveness of certain exercises.’
MINDBODY recently curated a playlist in collaboration with leading studios, full of songs that are most likely to increase motivation during a workout:
The experts at MINDBODY have some additional motivation tips to help you keep on track when it gets cold and dark.
‘Everyone struggles with their motivation at this time of year, and although it can be difficult, it’s important to remember why you’re on the health and fitness journey, and the goals you want to achieve,’ said a spokesperson.
‘If you miss a workout, don’t worry, you’re only human! However, take these motivational tips into consideration and start again the following day.’
Work out with a friend
Having someone alongside you during a tough workout can go a long way when it comes to motivation.
In fact, 34 per cent of gym-goers believe having a partner to workout with increases their motivation and makes them work harder. One in four even said it improves the effectiveness of their workout.
Change your alarm
That early morning alarm is probably up there with the worst sound in the world. But, what if your morning alarm actually made you excited for the day ahead?
Change the boring, painful tune you’re familiar with to something you love.
Maybe it’s your favourite song, or music that makes you feel energised. By doing so, you’ll wake up with a spring in your step.
Try a new class
From Pilates to Barre, HIIT, Bootcamp and Spin – whatever your fitness goals may be, there will be a class suitable for you.
Not only do most classes take place indoors (so you’ll stay nice and warm), but they are also great for your motivation as you’ll be working out alongside other class participants with an encouraging instructor guiding you.
If you’re really struggling to find the motivation to work out, then don’t.
Instead, focus your attention on rest and recovery, which has a whole host of benefits ranging from injury prevention, to minimising fatigue, and reducing stress.
Rest and recovery doesn’t necessarily mean staying at home doing nothing. According to MINDBODY data, the recovery trends and treatments growing in popularity this year are:
Remember doing that dreaded walk to the sidelines of the pool when you got your period during swimming lessons?
If you started menstruating at an early age then you might have felt embarrassed to be singled out, or you might have got FOMO from all the poolside fun going on.
Menstruation may have also meant skipping a soak session at luxury infinity pools while on holiday. The point is, many menstruating people have had to miss out.
So Australian brand Modibodi, which specialises in period-proof underwear, has ventured onto swimwear.
The company has designed swimming costumes and bikini bottoms for teenagers so they never have to skip any water-based activities.
Designed to hold up to two tampons worth of blood, the teen swimsuit comes following the success of the adult ranges.
Called RED Swim, the range is also said to be smell and leak-free. The bottoms, which come in black and navy, are £25 while the one-piece swimming costume is £65.
That might be a bit pricey, but probably not as much as the accumulative price of sanitary products which often come in lots of plastic material.
The swimwear looks exactly like regular swimwear and the one-piece comes with a racerback design.
The designers behind the items say that RED Swim is so advanced, it’s water-resistant and dries faster than others on the market.
So if you’re self-conscious about dripping between the pool and the shower, then you don’t need to stress.
Founder and CEO Kristy Chong recognised that for young girls, staying active when navigating starting your period can be hard.
Swimwear isn’t the only thing getting a menstrual-friendly makeover. A student has also figured out how to make sexy lingerie that stays leak-free for 18 months.
Sian Hickey, from De Montfort University, debuted her line with four complete outfits at the university’s Contour Fashion Show in London.
And not a single pair Bridget Jones-style knickers in sight.
Period proof swimming costume
We’ve seen some great advent calendars already and it’s not even November yet.
But if you want one that you can reuse year after year, this amazing Harry Potter train from Primark is perfect.
The Hogwarts Express shaped calendar features the train pulling a carriage containing 24 little drawers, ready for you to fill with your own chocolates or other tiny treats.
The calendar is £15 and obviously you need to spend more on the contents but you can bring this out again and again for each festive season.
Posting a video on Instagram, Primark said: ‘Fresh from Platform 9¾, our Harry Potter Hogwarts Express advent calendar has arrived into selected stores.
‘Fill the drawers with whatever magical treats you like and wait patiently for the start of December… Anyone else now ridiculously excited to start the Christmas countdown already?! 🚂 Advent Calendar £15/€17 #Primark #HarryPotter #HogwartsExpress #ChristmasCountdownIsOn.’
Of course, fans of the boy wizard are already excited.
One said: ‘OMG, I need one!’
Another tagged a friend and said: ‘Please get me one. PLEASE.’
Meanwhile, for Disney fans this Christmas, you can pick up new designs of the Mickey and Minnie Mouse Christmas baubles.
There’s a set of four big baubles or sets of six smaller ones, both for £4.
They come in a range of colours, all in the Mickey Mouse head shape or the gloves he wears.
If you want even more, there’s a bigger box of 25 decorations for £12 in traditional red and black colours.
Harry Potter train advent calendar
Flicking the bean, bashing the bishop or any other colloquial terms for masturbation are usually done shrouded in secrecy.
Though there’s nothing to be ashamed of, even the most sex-positive folks might not shout from the rooftops that they indulge in some self-love.
But for some, it’s more than a heady thrill: it’s a dark and insidious act.
Fapping is the colloquial term for masturbating and on websites like NoFap and Reddit, users are hating on themselves for a bit of self-pleasure.
There are legitimate concerns about masturbation addictions on these sites, which sex and relationship counsellor Charlene Douglas tells Metro.co.uk would be like any other addiction.
‘It goes from habit to addiction when you become dependent on it,’ she explains. ‘It has an effect on your day to day activities and you can’t focus on anything else, can’t participate in everyday life. That’s when it becomes a problem.’
But even some of those users who aren’t addicted but do occasionally indulge are looking down on themselves for doing it.
There seem to be incessant attitudes of self-loathing in these spaces. Users have used self-deprecating language, labelling themselves ‘pathetic’, ‘ashamed’ and even undeserving of happiness for enjoying one of life’s simplest pleasures.
Not only that, they seem to hate on others who engage in masturbation, whether alone or with a partner.
One post reads: ‘In the end, it will never satisfy you. The most broken and lonely people I know from firsthand accounts are those that give their bodies away left and right.
‘They make it harder for themselves to experience true love and will have great difficulty anchoring themselves to someone.’
These followers are berating themselves for a pretty ordinary and normal act that they may not necessarily be addicted to.
Many attest to doing it a few times a week or doing it because they haven’t found a partner yet.
Or they try to wean themselves off because they perceive masturbation as a sinful, perverse and detrimental act, using harmful language to describe it.
Shame is another major theme spread across these sites. There seem to be several reasons that people find their non-addictive masturbatory habits problematic.
Alex* tells Metro.co.uk that chronic reliance on porn to orgasm affected his relationships with people.
‘I feel flat [when I masturbate]. My brain is so used to the dopamine spikes from masturbation that I don’t feel happiness at all.
‘I saw people as sex objects instead of people when I fapped a lot, and they can actually sense how you view them.
‘Being seen as sex objects can really creep them out and potential partners. I honestly don’t like not being able to feel happy. So I stopped fapping.’
Similarly, Tony cites his choice of porn in making him want to stop doing it altogether.
‘I hate myself in the act,’ he explains. ‘Furthermore, the porn [I watched] had to get weirder and weirder. I am straight, but a while ago I was using women’s sex toys on myself. Like what am I really worth if all I can do is give in to lust?
‘It’s very much showing how much lack of will power I have over myself.’
For some users on these sites, prohibition is about prioritising romantic relationships and conserving their sexuality exclusively for their partner.
While it’s up to the individual what they want to do with their bodies, this idea that penetration (that too in an exclusive relationship) is the only legitimate way to be intimate is harmful.
This mentality of prioritising sex and seeing penetration as the end goal discredits self-love and worth.
Placing such importance on penis to vagina contact also does a disservice to the asexual, those with health conditions plus those from LGBTQ+ backgrounds.
And yet some go as far as to barter with themselves to stop. A female university student on an anti-masturbating forum tells Metro.co.uk that she sets targets for herself to avoid it.
‘I make little deals with myself. Positive reinforcement is much more effective for me. I’m currently trying to reach 30 days without PMO and I tell myself that if I can reach that goal, I can buy myself a music album that I’ve been really looking forward to.
‘Sometimes there are no benefits, in the past I’ve tried (with some success) to reach some milestones like that, two or three weeks without PMO just to see if that was something I was capable of, to know my worth.’
But there are many benefits of self-love including stress relief, better sleep, skin, productivity, and more.
Counsellor Charlene says it’s important to understand that there’s nothing wrong with masturbating.
‘The purpose of the clitoris is pleasure, it’s okay to explore that. Masturbating is a stress reliever and it makes you feel good.
‘If you feel shame over non-addictive but persistent or occasional masturbation, identify where that’s come from.
‘Explore the route of your shame. Often it’s to do with the way we’ve been taught about sex and the culture we’ve grown up in (or sometimes, religion).
‘Get away from myths and untruths surrounding it. Keep the conversation alive with peers and friends.’
Those who are not entirely addicted but want to wean off may want to try a type of sex therapy called sensate focus, adds Charlene.
It’s what she advises for couples not wanting penetration.
Sensate focus is concentrating on one’s own sensory perceptions and sensuality, without the goal of orgasm.
You can try this on yourself, have a bath, massage, touch yourself in other parts of your body, not just genitals, different arousal points.
This might feel less shameful than masturbating.
Occasional touching is different from an overwhelming compulsion but if you do find yourself doing it and thinking about it a lot, there are some steps you can take.
‘Understand what’s happening to your body,’ advises Charlene.
‘The body becomes addicted to the rush of dopamine that comes with watching porn/climaxing but it needs more and more extreme content to keep satisfying it.
‘You might need to seek professional help if it has a stronghold over your life. Journal your progress and identify where it tends to peak i.e stressful periods, perhaps when you’re humiliated or bored?’
If you seek professional help or tell someone about it, it may be easier to curb it as you’re held accountable.
Because putting the weight of your worth on one simple act is a huge responsibility for it to bear.
And what it does is place a whole load of pressure and power on a personal and healthy act – an impossibly hard expectation to meet.
Our professional and social lives are filled with such regimented precision (study, get married, own a home, have children etc), let’s not look to the private and personal with the same attitude.
*Names have been changed.
Why do people punish themselves for masturbating?
Not sure what to have for dinner? This mum has a genius solution to take the hassle out of meal planning.
Lou Kirsty Yeoman created a board and wrote a selection of all her favourite meals on lollipop sticks.
Each week she picks out seven sticks at random and clips them onto the board.
The rule is that whatever the sticks says goes and she can go out and buy all the ingredients.
Options include chicken orzo, crispy chilli beef, fajita, pasta bake, rogan josh, nachos, spag bol and campfire stew.
The mum-of-two runs a business printing vinyl stickers so she was able to print out the days of the week in gold lettering, but you can pick up similar stickers online.
She stuck them to a board painted black, added some screws and string to hang the board and stuck clicks beside each day using pins.
She then gathered up the sticks and wrote all the meals she knows the family likes on them in pen.
After spotting the idea on a Slimming World group, she decided to use it to create a plan for all the family dinners.
She posted the board on the Organise my UK home ltd Facebook group and said: ‘This has made life so much easier. No thinking what to make every day pick a stick and that’s what we are having.’
People commented on the post to say they loved the meal planning board.
One said: ‘That’s a great idea.’
Another added: ‘I’m planning to do something like this for jobs around the house for the kids. Never thought of doing one for meals too.’
She’s not the only one doing a little DIY – earlier this week, we brought the story of the mum who created an incredible play house under the stairs for her daughter for under £100.
Mum creates meal board to take the stress out of deciding what to have for dinner