Jessica Alba never criticizes her own body in front of her daughters. In fact, she never talks about dieting at home, and even tries to completely avoid using her phone around the house. When the actress and entrepreneur recently joined Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast, in partnership with iHeartRadio and Sleep Number, she explained why.
“My mom was not very nice to herself and her body when I was growing up,” she recalls. “So I have a lot of my own body insecurities and issues just from absorbing.” Alba remembers the body-related insecurities she was exposed to at a young age, but knowing that her own mother was quite young, Alba made the decision to teach her daughters differently – emphasizing kindness over physical beauty.
“I think I have the space to try and be more thoughtful with the way I parent with my girls,” she explains to Huffington. “I’ve always tried to attach meanness and hatefulness to ugly, and kindness to pretty — trying to attach that very basic idea that when you’re mean, and when you are trying to be hurtful, that is ugly. And when you are kind, that is pretty.”
In the age of social media, Alba knows that adolescent stress can often be amplified. After all, with kids scrolling through their feeds throughout the day, they’re bound to compare their own lives to those of their peers, and even develop anxiety if their own looks don’t measure up to what they see online. Alba says that she tries to limit her own use to set a good example – and her husband does the same. “We have been pretty good about not having the phone in our hands when we’re with each other,” she notes. “We just like to talk about the kids, and maybe we’ll watch a documentary.”
Finally, Alba says she manages to instill values of body positivity in her children by showing herself compassion at home. She says that by setting an example of self-love, her daughters will be more likely to treat themselves the same way. “I don’t look at my body critically in front of them,” she says. “I know they’re watching me, and even if I say something, if they see their mom treat herself a certain way, then that’s going to be their reality.”