Acting and image: Jessica Alba on her life and work

Beauty – not always positive

Actor Carole Lombard (1908-1942) once made the wry comment, “I’ve lived by a man’s code designed to fit a man’s world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman’s first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick.”

For many women, beauty is not always positive, especially in the image-conscious and male-dominated arena of entertainment.

Actor Evangeline Lilly of “Lost” admits, “I spent many nights crying myself to sleep wishing I was ugly because of the way men leered and disrespected me, because they assumed things about my mental capacity or my physical willingness based on the way I look.” [From my article The Dark Side of Beauty.]

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Jessica AlbaJessica Alba has a number of thoughtful perspectives on how body image issues have affected her life and work.

A magazine article [FashionAlba, by Dave Itzkoff, Elle, Nov 2006] noted, “the actors who have recently shared the screen with her confess that they underestimated Alba’s talents because of her striking good looks. But they’ve also learned that she’s not interested in coasting on her attractiveness.

Hard to categorize

The article says Alba “was dismayed” to learn her unique appearance put her at a disadvantage in auditions. “Mostly people just didn’t know what I was,” she says. “They couldn’t really categorize me.” In the eyes of casting agents, she says, “Katie Holmes is, like, the most ethnic girl they’ve ever seen.”

Religion and shame

She became a born-again Christian for four years, but recalls “older men would hit on me, and my youth pastor said it was because I was wearing provocative clothing, when I wasn’t. It just made me feel like if I was in any way desirable to the opposite sex that it was my fault, and it made me ashamed of my body and being a woman.”

I like paving the way

Jessica Alba-Forbes-500x600The article adds, “Alba says there are countless other actresses whose careers she can turn to for inspiration.. like Jessica Biel and Rosario Dawson.. Meryl Streep and Lauren Bacall. But she hesitates to describe any of these women as role models.”

“I don’t really worry about other people, because I’m so different,” Alba says. “I don’t look like anybody else, and I didn’t come from the same place as anybody else. I like paving the way, because then there are no expectations. There’s only what I create.”

[Also see Alba at work in the office of her venture The Honest Company in my Facebook/The Inner Entrepreneur photo.]