Sure, Jennifer Lawrence might have an Oscar and the laurels of Tinseltown as the highest paid actress in 2015 and 2016, but that’s nothing compared to Jessica Alba’s fortunes–estimated to be around $200 million after her company’s billion dollar valuation.
You may have mixed feelings about The Honest Company, given the very public flare-up over the sunscreens that purportedly don’t work, and I do too. In fact, any time a celebrity creates another company that just pumps stuff into the market, I think: “ugh, this is the last thing the world needs!” Having said that, Jessica Alba does seem to care a lot about non-toxic home goods and baby products, being motivated by her own chronic illnesses and the wish not to pass those on to her kids.
Being America’s richest self-made woman (as Forbes recently claimed) doesn’t mean she is free from people who drag her down, however. Recently, when a Vanity Fair writer asked in an interview how “she splits her time between being a successful businesswoman and a good parent,” Jessica Alba clapped right back: “Let me ask you something: how many men get asked that question?” Normally sunny Alba seems to have had *enough* of people shooting darts at her with passive-aggressive sexism.
And that is exactly it: why are women viewed so suspiciously if they don’t sit back when they become mothers? Why are women scrutinized when they are more than the average successful, especially if they seem to be happy? It often seems as though there is one mould to which a modern woman can still–still!–fit in, which is either a high achiever who sacrifices her family, or a super loving mama who always puts her kids first. Why do women have to rank our priorities when men don’t?!
And let’s not forget, men are considered more responsible, mature, and worthy of advancement when they get married and have children, while women are treated like they are on the brink of a work-life collapse. That gender stereotyping is harmful when companies hire or promote fewer women, but also when women themselves internalize that notion and criticize other women for not being mom enough (or professional enough).
That pregnancy style, tho.
She also tells E!: “A happy work place actually makes for a healthier person and healthier children. If you work five hours a day but you hate your job, your attitude when you come home and what that imposes on your kids outlook and their life and their relationship with them, it actually really affects it. But if you’re happy—even if you come home late and you’re working long hours—if they see that you’re happy and you’re in a good mood and you’re present with them that’s way better than you spending ten hours a day with them in misery.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Jessica! I was always proud of my mom who had long hours as a teacher and completed *two* master’s degrees at night–with 2 kids, no less. The more fulfilled you are, the higher quality of interaction you can have with your children–and they’ll also see you as a career role model.
Jessica Alba also debunks other notions of how moms, and pregnant women, should behave and feel. She got a lot of criticism when she admitted to working out to literal tears to lose her baby weight after her first two pregnancies, and wearing a double corset day and night for 3 months. Now on her third pregnancy, she admits that she’s trying to not gain so much weight with this baby on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
I can just hear the collective gasp from certain women who will no doubt condemn her for being vain and prizing her body over her baby, but at the end of the day, a woman’s body doesn’t belong to her children. Ultimately, how a woman feels about pregnancy and its effect on her body is up to her. Some women will love their post-partum bodies without any effort at weight loss, and others won’t feel completely themselves unless they get back their pre-baby body. Neither attitude is wrong, and neither has anything to do with how much a woman loves her kids.
Jessica Alba recently went on a panel to say: “I grew up with my dad making, like, $14,000 a year in the military until I was 9…We were always couponing and barely making ends meet…I think that’s kind of what pushed me through.” I think her journey from being below poverty line to being the richest female entrepreneur (& actress!) in the U.S. is pretty inspiring. Don’t you?
What do you think? Does it also bother you when people are all “work-life balance” for women in business, and not for men?
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Photo: Jessica Alba via Instagram