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Ali Landry: 'I Don't Think We'll Be Putting My Daughter in Pageants'

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Ask Ali Landry what her most important accomplishment is in life, and she breezes over winning Miss Louisiana, Miss USA and appearing on TV and in movies. It's being a mom that keeps this Southern belle going!

Ali Landry
We sat down with Ali to talk about life, motherhood and her uber-cute new line of clothes for girls, Belle Parish.

momlogic: How has life as a mother changed you?

Ali Landry: Becoming a mother has changed me in every way. For one, I am now so much more comfortable in my own skin. Any insecurities I had before concerning body image are no longer an issue. I don't even let myself go there anymore, because I now have something so much more important to worry about: my child and my family.

After becoming a mother, I also felt such a strong connection to other moms. I am passionate about showing up for other women wherever they are in their life, because I can't tell you how much other women have shown up for me -- everyone from moms on Twitter giving me advice on what to do when Estela was running a fever, vomiting and I could not get in touch with my doctor, to mom friends [watching] Estela for us when something unexpectedly came up. Becoming a mother has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can finally say that I now experience true joy in my life, and it is because I am a mother.

ml: What's the best part about being a mother?

AL: The best part about being a mother is the unconditional love I receive from my daughter.

Ali Landry
ml: Where did the idea for Belle Parish come from?

AL: "Belle" means Southern belle, and "parish" is a term used to describe towns in Louisiana, my home state. So it's Southern girl meets Southern town. Essentially, it's a world that we've created. My business partner, Annie Kate, and I are both from the South, and the concept of Belle Parish is derived from our Southern upbringing and what we were taught as kids. It's all about nostalgia, charm, being a lady, classic styles, etc.

Belle is the inspirational character of the line, and she lives in Belle Parish -- a world of simpler times. I think that in this recession, our ideas about dressing your children really resonate with people. Most people are going back to the basics, thinking about how their parents did things, and Belle Parish represents the sweet simplicity of life. It's not all sparkles and glitter; we believe little girls have the rest of their lives to wear that kind of thing!

ml: You held the title of Miss USA. Do you think you'll enter your daughter, Estela, in pageants?

AL: She's beautiful! I am very grateful for my experience as Miss USA, and I probably would not be where I am today if it wasn't for that opportunity. But I don't think that we will be putting Estela into pageants. We live in a city that offers so many other creative outlets that she can explore. I was not as fortunate, being from a very small town where my resources were very limited.

ml: There is so much pressure on little girls to be thin and beautiful, just like models in the magazines that we seem to idolize. What would you say to moms who want to raise independent and confident girls?

AL: We are very conscious of that, and we are constantly explaining to [Estela] what beauty is. We also try to lead by example in celebrating the differences in others. We also tell her that when you are kind, when you share, when you are loving and giving, thoughtful and respectful ... THAT is beautiful!

ml: How do you balance work, family and the business?

AL: I am trying to figure that out every day. It is definitely a daily struggle. It seems like something always falls short, whether it be not spending enough time with my husband and fulfilling his needs; not always being fully present when I am with my daughter; not giving enough focus to my business because I have so many other hats to wear; or even not having enough "me time" so I can rejuvenate and be my best for everyone else.

The guilt is always there, but I try not to beat myself up about it. I try so hard to do my best, and I know that some days I will do a better job than others. I feel very blessed for the life that I have, and at the end of the day, when push comes to shove and I have to make a choice -- family wins, hands-down.

Ali Landry
ml: Where can we buy Belle Parish clothes? We love them!

AL: Currently, we are in about 60 boutiques across the country. You can find a store locator on our website we also plan to start selling online this summer. We want to be in more boutiques, and we would love to be in a major department store soon!

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110 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon May 30, 2010, 2:49 PM

who cares?

tennmom May 30, 2010, 6:32 PM

Both of my daughters (now 12 and 10) are and have always been beyond beautiful. I’m not sure how it happened. Their father (my late-husband) was decent looking, not handsome. I’m not near beautiful, passable-pretty at best. Luck of the draw, I recon.
Since they were babies people have told me they should be on the pagent circuit and I have said Heck to the NO.
It’s okay, better than okay, for them to know they are great looking girls but I don’t ever want them to think that their looks are important. I want them to depend on their intelligence, their kindness, not their pretty faces.

michelle June 1, 2010, 9:30 AM

I have sons who by virtue of their gender are exempted from all this bs. But I am and have always been a very attractive woman, and I can tell you, tennmom, it’s much harder for a woman to be taken seriously as an individual or as a person when this is the case. People react to you in strange ways when they’re not actively objectifying you or demanding that you conform to a certain set of expectations. A handsome man is still allowed to be a person, but a beautiful woman is basically property. Even if she went to Princeton (as I did). My mother is also beautiful (still, at 62), but this is not central to her identity and she raised me the same way. I am glad to hear you’re raising your daughters that way. Know that even with your good stewardship, they will need to fight hard for the right to define themselves and be who they are, even if who they are is — gasp! — a physicist or surgeon or activist rather than a Hot Girl.

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