Kristen Bell: “Body Image Is What You Make Of It”

House of Lies star Kristen Bell covers the May issue of Good Housekeeping and opens up about family life with husband, Parenthood actor Dax Shepard, and their daughters Lincoln, 2, and Delta, 4 months.

On wanting to have a VBAC with Delta: “My belly is extremely comfortable; neither of my girls wanted to come out of it. Lincoln was born via C-section, but with Delta, I wanted a vaginal birth, because I wanted to be able to come home and carry Lincoln. I did not want my toddler to feel rejected because Mommy couldn’t lift her for five or six weeks or whatever. That was my priority.” But at 7 centimeters dilated, the doctors recommended another C-section. “I bawled for 10 minutes. I was so disappointed. I tried really hard! But she came out beautifully … The gift of the Magi is that when I got home, Lincoln didn’t care that I couldn’t pick her up!”

On getting marriage counseling: “Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about. I used to have a temper. I loved slamming doors – I wanted a dramatic exit! But he, having worked through a variety of emotional issues to get sober, said, ‘This isn’t going to work. This isn’t how I’m going to communicate for the rest of my life.’ When someone doesn’t fight back and goes, ‘I don’t want to do this,’ that threat is real. It makes you reevaluate your behavior. The way Dax and I argue now – and we argue a lot; we disagree on almost everything! – is so healthy. I read Blink, the Malcolm Gladwell book, and there’s a chapter about this University of Washington researcher who interviews couples. His conclusion is that if you have contempt for your partner, it’s done — you might as well get a divorce attorney.”

On how motherhood changed her: “I wasn’t positive I wanted kids. But I can now confirm having them is absolutely unmissable. When Lincoln came out, at first I was like, ‘Eh, what do I do with it? I can take it home?’ But when I started breastfeeding, the oxytocin or my hormones or hundreds of thousands of years of evolution kicked in. I didn’t want to let her go.”

On losing the baby weight: “I’m going to let it come off naturally. I’ll work out and eat healthy, but I’m not desperate to shed the weight. Body image is what you make of it. I refuse to compare myself to anyone anymore. I’ve done it; it didn’t make me feel good. I don’t like comparison hangovers. I’ve actually lost weight more quickly this time around. I think it’s because Lincoln keeps me really active. She’s fast, man. She runs, she walks, she sasses me all the time. She’s a wonderful handful.”

On being pro-vaccine: “I’m very crunchy, and happily so. But there is a lot of scientific, proven information out there that shows why vaccinations are necessary. Kids with autoimmune diseases, kids who are receiving cancer treatments — they can’t be vaccinated because their immune systems [can’t handle it]. If your kid has leukemia, he can’t get vaccinations; if he then goes to school with my kid and I chose not to give my kid vaccinations, I’m putting your kid at risk. To me, that’s unacceptable. There are the weak among us whom we have to protect. As moms, our responsibility is not just to our kids — it’s to all the other kids, too. People often misplace fear. Your child is 100 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have a severe reaction to a vaccine. That’s a fact.”

For more from Kristen, go to Good Housekeeping

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