On Your Period? Pamper Yourself!

What is menstruation in all its glory? Bloating, cramps, attitude … the list goes on. But instead of moping and moaning and groaning and grrrrrrr, celebrate your fabulous femininity by taking care of your sweet self! Hey, we’re betting you could get used to this every month.

Take a Soothing Bath
Nothing is more calming than soaking in a warm tub, so call dibs on the bathroom for at least 45 minutes. (Your little bro banging on the door can really kill a bathtime good vibe.) As you fill the tub with warm water, pour in 2 cups of Epsom salt and a couple of drops of essential oil or olive oil. Make yourself a cup of hot tea, then sit back in your bath and relax … aaahhhh.

Make a Movie Date
Have a low-key movie marathon night at home with the family or just by yourself. Rent a few DVDs, or turn on the movie channel. When you’re on your period, you tend to crave salty and sweet foods. So pop some popcorn and toss in a few handfuls of any of these extras to make a yummy snack mix: chocolate chips, peanuts, raisins, mini-pretzels, sunflower seeds. Now dim the lights, curl up with a soft blanket and chill out in front of the TV.

Dress up … or Way Down

Sometimes when you feel really icky, dressing up can be a real mood lifter. Pull your hair back with a pretty headband and pick out an outfit that’s dressy but comfortable. You’ll feel so good about yourself that you’ll forget you feel blah. Or on the flip side, wear your most baggy pants all day … even if it’s the sweats you usually only sleep in. Throw on a tank top, hoodie and pair of cute flats. To finish the look, put your hair in a messy pony and consider it comfy couture.

Stuff Your Face

Satisfy those food cravings we mentioned before. You already feel bloated, so what’s the big deal? Sure, the calories still count -- but a once-a-month treat isn’t going to make you or break you. Get dressed up or throw on those sweatpants, and head to your favorite casual diner or cafe with a friend. Order whatever your taste buds desire. Don’t forget dessert. (Chocolate seems to be the indulgence of choice for most girls on their periods.)

Beating Eating Disorders

It’s completely normal and OK to gain several pounds when you’re going through puberty and becoming a woman. But as they become overly obsessed with their weight, many girls in their teens all over the world are at greatest risk of developing eating disorders. Yikes!

Here’s the Skinny …
“I started my eating disorder at age 13, the moment I noticed a little pocket of fat at my bikini line,” says Elizabeth, now an adult survivor of anorexia. “I was wearing a turquoise swimsuit with a ruffle -- a swimsuit that I loved and felt so feminine in -- but with that negative thought that "fat is bad".

No wonder a whopping 81 percent of 10-year-old girls say they’re “afraid of being fat.” A “body-perfect” illusion, promoted by the media and fashion industry, has girls tricked into thinking they should be unrealistically stick-thin.

“It was when I noticed that little pocket of fat that I decided to eat less,” says Elizabeth. “Very quickly, my entire self-worth became wrapped up in my body size. I became obsessed with thin models in magazines.”

Harsh but True
Elizabeth, quite literally, was starving herself. “I felt so in control while restricting my food intake and losing weight,” she says, “but then out of control when my body became so hungry that I would eat everything I could after several days of restricting.” Elizabeth was in the throes of anorexia nervosa, a disease defined by self-starvation and extreme weight loss.

Another dangerous disorder is bulimia nervosa, in which sufferers binge on large quantities of food in a short period and then purge by ridding calories through unhealthy means such as vomiting or taking laxatives (ew).

While there are other serious eating disorders, such as binge-eating disorder (this differs from bulimia in that there is no purging), anorexia and bulimia are the most dangerous and, well, life-threatening. “It is time to talk about eating disorders because people die,” states Lynn Grefe, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, which receives calls from all over the world.

Elizabeth, who finally sought help for her disease at age 20, became so thin that her teeth chipped, skin broke out and hair became brittle and started falling out. The brutal fact is, of all mental illnesses, eating disorders are the No. 1 killer. 

Stick With the Activity Kick!

So … you've decided to be more active. The first week of your plan goes great: You get out your running shoes (and actually use them for running), and you’re feeling stronger, energized and more alert. You're off to a great start!

Then comes the second week: You're getting bored, and by the end of the week, you've slipped back to your old ways. Sound familiar?

Here’s how to actually make it to the third week and beyond:

Set Realistic Goals
Saying to yourself you want to have the body of a supermodel is a recipe for disaster. Only 2 percent of all women have a tall and slender model’s build. The other 98 percent of us are petite or curvy or round -- and equally beautiful! Instead of trying to achieve the impossible, set milestones: “I want to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping.”

Work out Early
Studies show that people who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to stick to their routine. Why? Well, no sudden movie invitations or yearbook meetings pop up at 7:30 a.m. Wake up half an hour early to squeeze in some yoga stretches before school.

Have a Workout Partner
Exercising with a friend is a great way to keep you on track. You and a BFF could meet up at the skating rink every Thursday evening or walk home from school together rather than taking the bus. Be each other’s personal cheerleader!

Spice up Your Routine
Following the same run day after day … after …day … can get boring. So shake things up with other forms of activity, like biking through your neighborhood or even dancing to your favorite songs around the bedroom.

Move It Indoors
As it gets chillier outside, it’s easy to just curl up on the couch. One way to combat the cold-weather workout blues is to exercise at home. Consider investing in a set of exercise DVDs or playing Wii fitness games to perfect your virtual ski jump or hula-hooping form.

Be an Active TV Viewer
While you watch your favorite sitcoms, march in place, do lunges, perform tricep dips off the couch or lift light hand weights. During commercials, do push-ups or sit-ups. In the course of a full one-hour show, you probably have about 20 minutes worth of commercial interruption to get the job done.

Making up Is Hard to Do

Think you’re old enough to wear makeup, but the parentals aren’t down with it? What’s wrong with a little eye shadow … and liner and lipstick and foundation? When it comes to makeup, a little goes a long way. Prove to your parents that you know how to apply cosmetics -- subtly.

Start With a Little Gloss
The trick is to ease your parents into the idea of their little girl wearing makeup, and lip gloss is a good starting point. It’s light and it looks natural while adding a shimmery glow. Go for a clear gloss or something with a hint of sheer color. If you have a fair complexion, try pink or peach. For olive skin, choose mocha or honey. Dark skin looks awesome in nudes or bronzes.

A Bag Over Your Head Is Not an Option
At your age, you don’t need foundation to even out skin tone. But your parents should be OK with your using a concealer to cover the occasional zit. Here’s how: First, gently apply astringent to the blemish with a cotton ball -- don’t pick! Next, dab on concealer in a shade that’s close to your natural skin color and blend it by lightly brushing outward. Let it dry before setting it with a cotton swab dipped in loose face powder.

Practice a Little Makeover Madness!
Flip through magazines for tasteful daytime looks and have a makeover party with your friends. When doing makeovers with friends, use clean applicators and brushes to avoid passing around bacteria. To apply eye shadow and lipstick, you can use a disposable cotton swab. Some drugstores even sell disposable mascara wands. Or you can give individual tubes of mascara as party favors, which even come in purples and emeralds.

Step It up for Special Occasions Only
You might be able to convince your parents to let you get more creative with the makeup when dressing up for dances and parties. For now, stick to eye shadow. Brush a medium shade from your lash line up to the eyelid crease. Blend a deeper shade from the crease to slightly above it -- but not up to your brows. Celebrate the season with shades that sparkle!

Ditch the Body Drama

When it comes to body issues, it seems every girl wants what she doesn’t have. Whatever you’ve got, it’s all femininely fab. So work with it!

 “I’m completely flat-chested and hate it”
There’s a shot your chest isn’t finished developing yet. But what’s wrong with being small-breasted? No sagging. You often can go (gasp!) braless. And there are all kinds of cute tops that look phenomenal on little boobies. Boobs are awesome no matter what their shape or size. Don’t think so? Tell that to Keira Knightley, Kate Hudson and Selma Blair -- all hotties with itty-bitties.

 “I think my butt is the size of a continent!”
Again, size doesn’t matter. As long as you’re fit -- and wearing clothes with a proper fit -- embrace the beauty of your booty. You’re probably self-conscious about something nobody else notices. If, on the other hand, you are truly overweight, rather than bod-bashing, make healthy lifestyle changes. Eat more veggies and less fat-filled food, and vow to keep active.

 “All my friends have their periods, but I don’t. Am I normal?”
The average age for a first period is 12, but girls can start menstruating as young as 8 and as old as 15. Usually, menstruation comes about two years after your breasts begin to bud. If you’re mid-teen and haven’t gotten it, speak to a doc. Otherwise, look for signs it’s on its way: cramps, breakouts, sore breasts. Or maybe your only warning will be a sudden moist feeling between your legs. Be prepared by keeping an emergency kit in your backpack with clean undies, maxi pads and panty liners.

“I’m sprouting hair in places I don’t care to mention”
You mean, your underarms and pubic area? Maybe your upper lip? Yeah, that happens during puberty. What you want to do about it is a personal choice. Some girls wear their body hair proudly. Others prefer fur-free. If you don’t like the fuzz, you can remove it by shaving (not the lip or arms!) or waxing, or make it less noticeable with bleaching. Here’s a thought: Talk to your mom, aunt or older sister about your hairy situation.