‘Being pregnant gave me respect for my body’ – Jessica Alba

The mum-of-two, high-flying businesswoman and Hollywood actress opens up about her family life and eight-year marriage.

The actress and businesswoman is well aware of the transformation her life has undergone – personally and professionally – over the last decade.

And it’s two small walking-and-talking reasons that are responsible for helping her to make these big changes.

Jessica makes it clear from the off that her daughters Honor Marie, eight, and Haven Garner, five – with husband Cash Warren – are behind her turning her life around and then some.

“It’s incredible being a mum. I love it,” she tells Fabulous, as she takes a break from her desk at her LA-based household goods business The Honest Company.

In the 1990s it was a rare thing for a teen boy not to have a poster of the scantily clad Venus Rising star gracing his bedroom wall.

And there was no escaping her presence in the hottest women in the world polls, which the Fantastic Four actress, now 35, regularly topped. But Jess herself was struggling to accept her sex symbol status.

As a result of the pressures of the film industry, even a teensy star like Jess – she is a UK size 6 – was unable to escape having some body hang-ups.

Her lack of self-confidence meant that despite appearing on screen in revealing outfits, in real life she refused to wear shorts or mini-skirts, later saying: “I was a lot more critical of my body [before having kids] when it was probably pretty awesome. I was so skinny!”

Despite always having had an incredible figure, Jessica would refuse to wear mini-skirts in real life
Despite having always had an incredible figure, in her younger years Jessica would refuse to wear mini-skirts in real life

She went through a self-confessed life crisis aged 25, during which she questioned the way her career was moving.

But everything changed in 2008, when Jessica became a mum.

For the first time she was able to marvel at her ever-changing figure, after experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, and slowly adopted a more relaxed approach to being body beautiful.

“I was much more stressed and concerned about my body before I had kids,” she admits.

“But now I know how silly and unimportant it is, so it’s certainly given me perspective.

“Being pregnant and giving birth gave me a new found respect for my body, it’s amazing.

Jess says that pregnancy and childbirth gave her newfound appreciation for her body and put her insecurities in perspective
Jess says that pregnancy and childbirth gave her newfound appreciation for her body and put her insecurities in perspective

“It made me realise: ‘Oh right, this is why we have all the bits that we have!’ There is a real reason for it.”

As an A-lister in Hollywood Jessica has thousands of personal trainers and luxury gyms at her beck and call.

But ask her how she finds time to workout alongside making films, raising two kids and running her company and it elicits a surprisingly down-to-earth response.

“Erm… I don’t!” she laughs.

That isn’t strictly true, though, as she did manage to squeeze in some intensive training for her latest role in action flick Mechanic: Resurrection, where she’s back kicking butt in a bikini alongside Jason Statham.

“I did a couple of weeks of weight training – you have to be fit to do these kinds of movies,” she says.

“Before that I’d fallen off the wagon with exercise. I go back and forth between crazy exercising and doing nothing at all.

Jess squeezed in a few weeks weight training before filming for the action movie Mechanic: Resurrection alongside Jason Statham
Jess squeezed in a few weeks’ weight training before filming for the action movie Mechanic: Resurrection alongside Jason Statham

“On an ideal day I’ll wake up at 6am and go to a spin or hot yoga class before I take the kids to school. A class is good because if it was just me by myself I’d never get around to doing it.”

But faced with choosing between spending time in the gym and time at home with the mini-mes, it’s clear who wins out. Every time.

“God… there really isn’t anything I don’t enjoy about being a mum!” she laughs.

“They’re always funny and curious. Of course, they can be little brats sometimes when they’re overly tired or hungry or fighting, but there’s so much optimism and hope in children.”

Jess has also managed to achieve the unthinkable, in Hollywood at least, by maintaining a successful eight-year – and counting – marriage.

She met movie producer Cash in 2004 on the set of Fantastic Four and later described it as love at first sight.

Cash, 37, got down on one knee in December 2007 – just weeks after Jessica announced she was having his baby – and the pair married when she was eight months pregnant in a low-key ceremony at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, with only a couple of staff members present acting as witnesses.

Jess has been with her film producer husband, Cash, for eight years
Jess has been with her film producer husband, Cash, for eight years

It appears the lack of showbiz pizzazz on their big day has done the trick though.

Jessica regularly posts loved-up Instagram pics of the pair on their date nights.

But she’s adamant that she doesn’t hold the secret to long-lasting A-lister partnerships.

However, she does say: “I think we have an incredible amount of respect for each other and we value each other’s opinions. I feel like we’re in it together.”

She confesses that after she leaves the office later, she’s looking forward to some, ahem, Netflix and chill time with the hubby.

“We love twisted shows like [sci-fi series] Stranger Things. And I like wine!” she giggles.

So how do they make sure their daughters stay grounded amid all the luxury?

“A lot of your kids’ behaviour mirrors your own. If they see me or their father acting s**tty to people, then that’s how they’ll act. So we try to be respectful, thankful and appreciative and live our lives in a way that’s a direct reflection of that.”

Although being a Hollywood mum doesn’t mean that she escapes having worries about her daughters growing up in an ever-changing world.

“There’s a generation who don’t understand social media and feel disconnected from how their kids are using it. But I’m of the digital age, so I’ll understand the platforms that my kids will be on.”

Her children’s upbringing is starkly different to her own.

Jessica grew up in a working-class, military family in the suburbs of California with her Mexican-American dad Mark and mum Catherine.

“When I look back at my childhood, I mean, I used to eat radioactive fake food! I grew up on microwave dinners, but my kids won’t ever eat packaged food, they eat real stuff. I never got to travel when I was little and my kids get to experience different cultures.”

So what lessons would she like to pass on to them?

“That’s hard!” she sighs.

“There are so many lessons I want to pass down to them. I want them to create their own way and figure out their own path.

“When I was younger the lesson I learned was: ‘Don’t put so much focus on boys.’ Then when you get older people say: ‘Don’t worry if people don’t like you.’ Later in life it’s: ‘Work hard, show up on time and be professional and eventually the stars will align.’”

It’s advice that has kept Jessica in good stead.

Jess made a name for herself in films like Honey and later called out industry bosses for only ever offering her roles for the whore or horny maid
Jess made a name for herself in films like Honey and called out industry bosses for only ever offering her roles for the ‘whore’ or ‘horny maid’

She made her name as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies in roles such as the hip-hop dancer with the heart of gold in Honey, the stripper in Sin City and the Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four

Finding herself defined by her good looks and enviable bod, Jessica called out the glass ceiling imposed on her by Hollywood bosses.

Ten years ago she publicly complained about not being offered serious roles, saying: “The scripts I get are always for the whore, or the motorcycle chick in leather, or the horny maid.

“I get all these screenplays that start: ‘Tawnya is in the shower. The water streams down her naked, perky breasts.’  I don’t think that this is happening to Natalie Portman.”

But today Jessica is much more relaxed about the parts her agent receives.

“Those types of movies will always get made, but I’ve made a conscious decision not to play them,” she says.

“I enjoy action films – I have seen pretty much every Jason Statham movie, and Gina is bringing something to the table that’s not just the damsel in distress waiting to be rescued.

“Women today are resourceful and strong and we can kick butt!”

They certainly can and, in Jessica’s case, she can do just that with all her clothes on.

The actress, who was raised Catholic, has a strict no-nudity clause in her contract, understandably saying that she doesn’t want her grandparents seeing her boobs on-screen.

But it clearly hasn’t affected Jessica’s box-office pull – she’s worth around £250million.

No wonder then that she now couldn’t care less about gaining critical acclaim.

Jessica played the Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four
Jessica played the Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four: She says she’s only ever been attracted to characters with strength and toughness

“My latest film is a popcorn movie. I don’t think I’ve ever had a good review, and you know what? I don’t really care. If people walk away smiling and enjoying themselves after watching something I’m in, that’s all I care about.

“I’m not in control of the edit or the writing or the promotion. No one sets out to make a bad movie, we all want it to be good. But it’s a complicated thing to do and it’s a miracle when it all comes together.”

This carefree attitude to success has no doubt something to do with Jessica’s humble, and often tough, beginnings.

Her dad’s career in the US Air Force meant the family, including Jessica’s younger brother Josh, followed him around America before settling back in Claremont, California when she was nine.

As a result of constantly being uprooted and a multitude of childhood illnesses – including a collapsed lung, a ruptured appendix, asthma, and multiple bouts of pneumonia – she found herself with few friends.

It was when Jess was pregnant with Honor that her business idea came to her
It was when Jess was pregnant with Honor that her business idea came to her

It’s clear Jessica is a tough cookie and her numerous health knock-backs have resulted in a steely determination from early on.

Aged just 11, she begged her mother to take her to an acting competition, and she scored her first major role in 2000, when director James Cameron cast 19-year-old Jessica as the lead in his TV series Dark Angel.

After managing to successfully avoid all the craziness of Hollywood, how would she feel if her two girls wanted to follow in her footsteps?

“I wasn’t a child star,” she says.

“I was a child actor. I wasn’t famous or popular, I was working. But I would not recommend my kids work at a young age.

“I worked my ass off to give them a life where they can do whatever makes them happy. There’s nothing like the time you get when you’re young to feed your brain with science or chemistry or literature or music.

“It’s a great luxury for them to be able to stay in school as long as possible. They don’t have that pressure of having to support their family.”

Her daughters are partly responsible for Jessica quietly writing her new role as a billion-dollar business mogul, no less.

It was while pregnant with Honor Marie, that Jessica realised she was allergic to the washing powder she had bought to wash baby clothes.

After her second pregnancy in 2011 she launched her range of eco-friendly baby and personal-care products, including baby wipes and sunscreen.

“I’m in the office every single day and run every facet of the business, so acting feels like a vacation,” she says assertively.

“It’s fun to be able to dive into a character, but the acting process is quite self-indulgent.”

The actress-turned-entrepreneur now spends the majority of her days at a cobalt-steel desk in the open-plan offices, where she is partly responsible for managing around 300 employees.

And thanks to her enterprising skills, the company, which she co-founded with four other entrepreneurs, is now worth an estimated £1.2billion.

Jessica is rumoured to have a 20% stake, meaning she’s worth more than Beyoncé and is part of this year’s Forbes magazine’s America’s Richest Self-Made Women list.

Yep, this is definitely one Hollywood star with the brains to back up the beauty.

“When you’re acting, you have to be open and vulnerable and tap into a humanity,” says Jessica.

“But in business, it’s very strategic and logical, so it’s a totally different mindset. I feel like Honest is my purpose,” she says without blinking, before announcing it’s time for her to get back to the office.

Underestimate Jessica Alba as “just the hot girl in a bikini” at your peril.



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