Jennifer Garner, actress and wife of Ben Affleck, recently stated in an interview she was shocked when people started telling her she was pretty in college. Garner, who said she never heard compliments on her appearance from her mother, credits that upbringing with her down-to-earth nature and core values.
“What my mom did that I valued so much was to not place beauty high on the list of priorities, Jennifer told Southern Living Feb. 17. It was a shock when I got to college to hear people say I was pretty.
It wasn’t that Garner thought poorly of herself or had low self-esteem; she simply didn’t think about her appearance in the way many women traditionally do.
Where mainstream society places value on how young a beautiful a person is, Jennifer was raised to instead judge people on their intelligence and achievements, and she is raising her own children with the same values.
“Its really important for my kids to see that everyone doesnt have the lives they see in Los Angeles, she said. That doesnt reflect the rest of the world. I want them to grow up with the Southern values I had to look at people when they say hello and to stop and smell the roses. If I could do half as good a job as my mom did, Id be pretty happy.
The window Garner provides into her childhood sheds light on an important part of parenting many adults forget; children usually grow up to have the same set of values as their caretakers. What parents do and say can influence a child–consciously and subconsciously–for their entire lives.
The Encyclopedia of Children’s Health indicates parents are the primary influence on a child’s self-esteem and value system up until they enter the school system. This critical time is when a child internalizes a parent’s values on success and failure, and supportive parental behaviors will determine what that child views as important later in life.
These first beliefs instill be parents and caretakers are what will influence children when they get older and start building (or breaking down) self-esteem and confidence in relation to how they are viewed by their peers. Popular Social Science explains how someone sees themselves is a reflection of how they believe others see them, not necessarily how they actually are.
Jennifer Garner, for example, was raised knowing her mother thought she was intelligent and successful, so she herself saw those qualities above all else.
Not placing an emphasis on beauty is likely what has kept Garner away from crazy celebrity fad diets and fitness routines. She told Southern Living her dieting days are over, but she eats clean approximately 80 percent of the time.
For Garner, part of being intelligent and successful is taking care of her health, which still means strength training and cardio workouts during the week.