ask toni & josh
I'm 15, but my mum won't let me shave my legs. She says it will make the hair grow too thick. I want to go swimming with my friends this summer, but I'm scared they'll laugh at me.
Mums often feel that, by letting their 'little girls' shave their legs, they're letting them grow up, and therefore losing them to adulthood. They know that growing up is inevitable, but I guess they feel the fewer adult freedoms their kids have, the further from independence they are.
I was lucky - my sister went through what you're experiencing so I didn't have to. But I remember her embarrassment when Mum refused to let her shave her legs for the Year 12 dinner dance.
I don't think Mum even realised she was making life difficult - I genuinely feel she was trying to delay the hassle of depilation for my sister. Fortunately, by the time her final school year rolled around, Mum relented.
The fact is, anything that makes you feel different or uncomfortable can be embarrassing. Good friends shouldn't laugh at you, no matter what you look like. But you can't help how you feel.
Honestly, very few people will actually notice if you haven't defuzzed - it's the kind of thing we're always more aware of ourselves than others are. But if you'd really rather avoid potential teasing, explain to your mum how awkward it makes you feel. And remind her that, if she'd rather you didn't shave, waxing and using hair removal cream last longer and don't make hair coarse.
I'm 16, and I just started dating this really cool girl. But I'm worried that when school starts, my studies might be affected.
The summer holiday is a long and glorious stretch of time for new opportunities and experiences. Rather than wasting time and energy worrying about what might happen in six weeks, focus on getting to know this girl better and enjoying her company while your timetable is uncluttered.
When September comes, if you still like each other, reassess the situation. You're young, so you shouldn't be spending every hour in each other's presence anyway. Schedule each other into the rest of your life - maybe you can chat for 30 minutes every night and go on a date at the weekend.
But don't forget to make time for the other people in your life who were there before her - your family and friends. Besides, spending all your time with one person can make you very dull indeed. And don't forget the truth of the old adage 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'.
Do you need an answer to a problem and don't know who to turn to? Growing up can be hard, but Toni and Josh are here to help. Whether it's about school stress or jealous friends, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll lend a sympathetic ear.