Jessica Alba Underwent 5 Surgeries Before Age 11: 'I Was Hospitalized a Lot as a Child'

Alba said that her past health issues motivated her to be as healthy as possible for her kids and inspired her to found the Honest Company

Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba. Photo: PIERRE VILLARD/SIPA/Shutterstock

Jessica Alba gained a stronger appreciation for her health after struggling with chronic illness as a child.

The Honest Company founder and actress, 39, said in an interview with Romper that the health problems she dealt with at a young age, along with her mother's experience with cancer, shaped her adult years.

"My mother had cancer at a really young age, in her early 20s. I grew up with chronic illness. I had five surgeries before I was 11 years old. I had chronic allergies, and I was hospitalized a lot as a child," she said.

And when Alba prepared to become a mom for the first time in 2008 with the arrival of daughter Honor, her childhood illnesses became a worry again. The Fantastic Four star, who shared in February that her father Mark is undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer, grew concerned about the health of her newborn and herself.

"I had this real moment of, I want to live, and thrive, and spend as much time with this little person that I'm bringing into the world as possible and stay," she said. "So, my health matters. I want this little person to be healthy. And it's really freaking hard to be happy when you don't have your health."

Those thoughts about her health, along with Honor's arrival, changed Alba's focus. Rather than continuing to pursue an acting career, she wanted to go into wellness, which eventually led to the creation of the Honest Company.

"That's really what motivated me. My motivation was not like, 'Am I ever going to get hired again?' Frankly, I was at the top of my career," she said. But after Honor was born, Alba didn't care as much about acting.

"I couldn't go back to what I was doing before and be authentic. I just couldn't. I didn't care about it the same way," she said. "It was something bigger. I felt like if I was going to have this platform, then what can I do with it that could be meaningful and make a difference? That just felt so real when I became a mom for the first time."

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Alba now oversees the multi-million dollar company and is a mom to two more kids, daughter Haven, 9, and son Hayes, 3, with husband Cash Warren, 42, along with Honor. The Honey star said that she makes "a very concerted effort not to talk poorly about my body in front of my kids."

"The lens that I look through is I remember how my mom spoke about her body, then informed the way that I was going to talk to myself about my body. And even when my mom said, 'You're beautiful,' and 'It doesn't matter what other people think,' it didn't matter. I took on her baggage," Alba said.

Instead of negatively pointing out stretch marks or cellulite, Alba said she talks to her kids in a way that reframes the conversation about how their body feels.

"I just talk about 'Do you feel good? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel healthy?' I think it's important that you know that no matter what you say to your kids and how you have that unconditional love as a parent, they're going to view themselves the way that you view yourself," she said. "It's kind of like walk the walk versus talk the talk."

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