Zoe Saldana used to believe in a “strict” diet when she was younger to look her best because Hollywood so often equates physical beauty with success. But over the years, she’s taken control of her diet and fitness routines instead of letting them control her.
“When I was younger, I was more strict. I felt I needed to control that part of my life in order to feel I was going to be successful at something – because we often equate success with our physical beauty. It’s so fucked up!” she tells Women’s Health magazine.
But now, Zoe is more at ease her diets. Instead she attributes her “strength” to being a mother of three young sons, twins Cy and Bowie, 3, and 16-month-old Zen, with her husband Marco Perego.
“My boys are a constant source of strength for me. They keep me on my toes, reminding me how much I still have to learn and grow as a person,” she says.
“I can’t work out regularly, so I compensate by eating a lot healthier than I might otherwise. Once you have relatively healthy eating habits, your workout can become playing with your kids, strolling around the neighbourhood, playing airplane or just changing diapers.”
Saldana, who turns 40 in June, says she is raising her children in a gender-neutral household. She doesn’t want her sons to grow up thinking women are “so annoying.”
“That ‘Mom’s the boss’ thing is not going to happen in our family, because that means he’s the fun one, the good guy, while I’m the disciplinarian. I don’t want my kids to look at women like, ‘Oh, god, they’re so annoying! They always come with structure.'” she says.
Meanwhile, Zoe previously admitted her “greatest wish” is that her children don’t grow up “feeling conscious” about the colour of their skin.
“My greatest wish for my kids is that they never grow up feeling conscious of the colour of their skin, or where their parents come from or that they can achieve anything in life … [My mother] would always tell me, ‘Zoe, Zoe, Zoe. I hope you like them’ [when meeting new people]. And for some reason, it was always to remind me what I have to feel and think about others matters just as much as what they have to feel and think of me.”
And Zoe says she was bullied as a child for speaking English rather than talking in Spanish.
“It was a very traumatising time for me because I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I was never equipped, trained or taught to defend myself. My mother never raised me believing that I was different, so the moment me and my sisters started getting attacked, shock was the first reaction. Bullies can reach a depth within you that may cause irreparable damage. There were years that I felt ashamed of myself, thinking, ‘I should have known better, I should have always stood up for myself.'”
Zoe uses her experience as a ballet dancer to keep her body in shape, and practices yoga for strength and flexibility.
“I love having that kind of intimacy with my body and getting my body to do things I never thought I could do. I often take for granted how helpful stretching and breathing exercises are. Yoga reminds me to breathe and slow down.”
Zoe’s health comments come after she revealed in an interview last year that she doesn’t have time to hit the gym much these days, and so focuses on healthy eating instead.
Saldana has a long history with Women’s Health. Four years ago, she posed naked on the cover of the UK edition.
It featured her clothes-free for the magazine’s naked issue.
“My body is less toned,” Zoe told the magazine. “I do look in the mirror and see things I don’t want to. My first reaction is [she does a horrified gasp] and then I breathe and I think, ‘I’m a woman, I’m 36, my body is changing.'” she said at the time.
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