At Blume, we're all about impacting the lives of young girls in a positive way and spotlighting exceptional young women. And that's what Kelsey Haywood Lucas spends most of her time doing.
Today on the blog, we’re thrilled to talk with this inspirational #BlumeBabe. Kelsey is the beauty director and head of content at Girls’ Life magazine, an award-winning media brand for young women where she covers everything from breakouts and blush to body image and personal empowerment. In this candid Q&A, Kelsey shares how her struggles with severe menstrual pain and a chronic bladder condition as a young woman helped her cultivate body confidence and develop a deeper understanding of what self-care really means. Read on to discover her top tips for squeezing self-care into your school day—and learn what she finds most rewarding about working with Girls’ Life.
Tell us about your role at Girls’ Life.
As the content director of Girls’ Life magazine, I oversee a little bit of everything we do on social, digital and in print—it’s my job to stay on top of the trends in our space, which is really fun. I’ve been passionate about magazines since I could read, and Girls’ Life was my favorite title when I was growing up—so this is quite literally my dream job and I’m so grateful to be a part of our team.
Every single day is different, challenging and exciting in its own way, and my day-to-day job description changes constantly. A typical day includes meeting with our team to discuss editorial plans for upcoming issues, running outside to photograph content for our Instagram feed, reviewing details for upcoming events (mark your calendars: (We just wrapped our annual Back-to-School Fashion Bash!) and hopping on a few calls to discuss special projects and partnerships that we have in the works with other brands who share our goal to empower young women. I also write and produce all our beauty content—so that might mean a few minutes testing products in our beauty closet (I share a lot of my favorite products reviews in my Instagram Story!), or pulling inspiration for an upcoming celeb shoot.
I also write and edit special features for every issue, and that’s one of the most rewarding aspects of this job— being able to spotlight really exceptional young women who have positive messages to share, and working with young writers to help them tell their stories. I’m so proud that our platform is able to amplify all these strong voices so that girls around the globe can become more informed and more inspired.
Why is impacting the lives of young girls important to you?
Being a woman is tough. But being a 12-year-old girl? You couldn’t pay me all the money in the world to go back to those years. I had a pretty difficult time at that age—severe menstrual issues, major bladder issues, and also personal issues such as my parents’ divorce and feeling like an outsider at a new school. (All extremely common problems that so many girls go through!) But as much as I struggled back then, I know that it’s only more difficult for young women in today’s world—there’s more pressure on girls now, and with social media there’s also less of a chance to escape that pressure. So Girls' Life is here to offer all the information and inspiration that girls need to navigate their lives and feel good about themselves—whether it’s providing fun fashion and beauty inspiration that helps girls express their personal style, or sharing insight on significant topics like school shooting anxiety and young people getting involved in politics. And then, of course, we’re constantly covering adolescent body issues so that girls can get the accurate information they need—our August/September 2018 issue, for example, has a guide to your first appointment at the gynecologist.
Can you talk a bit about your own menstrual and bladder issues, and what you’ve learned from those experiences?
Shortly after I got my period, around 8th grade, I started experiencing debilitating pain every time I’d start menstruating: cold sweats and cramps so severe that I’d get dizzy (and even pass out sometimes). I knew that something wasn’t right with my body, so it was extremely frustrating when school administrators treated me like I was overreacting—they’d basically say, “Take a Tylenol and go back to class, it’s just part of being a girl.” But luckily, my mom really advocated for me—she made sure that we figured out what was really going on with my body (a doctor explained that I was suffering from extreme dysmenorrhea, which is basically just the scientific term for painful periods) and also made sure the school knew it was something to be taken seriously (meaning I shouldn’t be expected to sit through class when I was in excruciating pain). The moral of the story there is to trust yourself, listen to your body—and don’t ever let anyone minimize what you are feeling.
And then when I was in college, a chronic bladder disease that had been in remission for a while flared up—amplified by stress, of course—and after missing a lot of school because of being sick and traveling home for doctor’s appointments, I had a really difficult decision to make. I ended up leaving school, moving home and taking some time off to have surgery and recover. I was devastated that my plan for my life had changed so drastically, and I was really worried about my future. But that series of events was the spark of what eventually landed me at Girls’ Life—so I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and you’ll always end up where you’re meant to be. Again, the most important thing is to prioritize your health and wellbeing—because if you’re feeling good, everything else will fall into place.
How do you practice self-care, and what self-care suggestions do you have for other girls and women?
Here’s the thing I think is most important about self-care: It needs to be purposeful, and it needs to help you focus your intentions inward—not solely be an escape. There are a lot of memes on Instagram that joke about how self-care is all about slapping a sheet mask on your problems or binge-watching your favorite show with a pint of ice cream…but if those activities are only going to exacerbate the issues or anxiety you’re trying to avoid, it’s not self-care. Self-care is making the decision to spend your time in the way that will most benefit you: So that might mean a leisurely bubble bath by candlelight, or it might mean turning off Netflix and spending an hour on your homework, even when you really don’t feel like it.
I just spent a week at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa for a mother/daughter wellness retreat that Girls’ Life co-hosted with the spa, located right outside San Diego—and I spent some very special time talking to the girls about ways they can work self-care into their routines without actually having to spend extra time and energy on it (because, really, who has more time to spare?).
For teens, my #1 suggestion is to work self-care into your morning beauty and grooming rituals—because, chances are, you’re going to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes by yourself in the morning when you shower, brush your hair and teeth, wash your face, etc. And starting the day with a morning routine is extremely important for everyone, but especially for teens, because here’s the thing: Once you leave the house in the morning, you have very little control over what happens and someone else will dictate every move you make for the rest of the day—teachers, coaches, bosses, parents. But those 15 minutes in the morning? Those are all yours.
If you’re taking a shower, try prepping with a quick dry-brushing session; and as you work your way from your toes up toward your heart, gently buffing in circular motions, express appreciation for each part of your body. (“Thank you, feet, for allowing me to score goals in soccer! Thank you, shoulders, for hauling my books around every day.”)
When you hop in the shower, put a drop or two of essential oil (try eucalyptus) on the floor—it’ll diffuse with the steam—and focus on taking slow, deep breaths as you move through your usual routine. When you get out, don’t just slather lotion on your body—give your legs, arms and stomach a mini massage that’ll boost circulation. And while you pat your way through a skincare routine, apply your makeup or style your hair? Repeat a few positive affirmations to yourself or visualize what you want your day to bring.
Everyone’s most significant self-care beauty rituals will be different—but whatever you do, it’s all about finding tiny ways to check in with yourself, appreciate your body, focus on how you’re feeling and clear space in your mind so that you can tackle whatever the day throws your way.
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Save your journals! I wrote so much when I was younger—poems, diary entries, song lyrics—and I’d throw them out because I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to find my innermost thoughts. I’d love to read them now!
What’s your spirit animal and why?
A pug. I love their smashed faces and snuggles. They bring pure joy and love and happiness into the world—and everyone needs that kind of energy in their life.
What’s in your bag / purse?
I carry a huge Cuyana tote that I absolutely love because I’m a bag lady and it holds everything, especially when I’m traveling. In it you’ll always find my Glacce smoky quartz glass water bottle (which infuses your H2O with crystal energy), the Blume Cloud 9 Oil (it's a really luxe treatment for PMS symptoms, but I also use it as a calming perfume), a good book (right now I’m reading How To Get Sh*t Done! by Erin Falconer, which is life-changing for productivity), a calming lavender face mist by Kora Organics (super refreshing), an Herbivore rose quartz gua sha tool (they’re great for reducing puffy skin, and the square tool is also an amazing headache reliever) and a bag full of dog treats—my husband and I are new parents to a 12-week-old Frenchie named Sonny.
#WCW - who do you think we should talk to next and why?
I’ve got two! First, my ultimate #WCW will always be my own mentor (and my boss), Karen Bokram, who started Girls’ Life magazine at the age of 22 and has spent her career being a very under-the-radar champion for young women. Karen has done more for me, both professionally and personally, than I could put into words here—but I just feel extremely fortunate to have such a strong role model in my life who has been so generous in sharing her knowledge, her time, her experience and her guidance with me. She has taught me to take an idea…then think bigger, and bigger, and bigger—until that idea has actually reached its max potential. She has taught me that *every* problem can be solved—and if you don’t have a solution, you’re just not trying hard enough yet. And, most importantly, she has taught me that the old saying is true: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
And I’d also have to say Chrissy Teigen (who, fun fact, was a Girls’ Life model back in the day!). She is smart and hilarious and outspoken, and I really admire how she uses her voice to bring attention to and normalize women’s issues. (As a person with my own #peeproblems thanks to my bladder condition, I really appreciated her epic tweet about being surprised that after giving birth, she was the one going home from the hospital in diapers.) It shouldn’t be shameful to talk about what we go through as women—and she’s definitely inspired me to be more open about my own body and my own experiences.
Kelsey Haywood Lucas is obsessed with skincare, self-care, books, brunch...and pugs. All the pugs. She's the content director at Girls’ Life magazine — where she covers everything from breakouts and blush to body image and personal empowerment — and the author of Best Hair Book Ever! from HarperCollins. Follow her on Instagram (@bykels) for beauty unboxings, product recommendations and lifestyle hacks.