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Five Questions With Laila Ali

Laila Ali

Laila Ali shared her thoughts on Halloween, raising ambitious and confident children with husband Curtis, and her new project to help women embrace their uniqueness.

Q: What are your Halloween plans? Has everyone picked out their costumes?
My kids [Curtis and Sydney] have switched up their outfit ideas multiple times but have finally made a decision, so they say! We usually go trick or treating in the neighborhood and hand out candy to trick or treaters! I let my kids eat the candy they collect for a few days and then it magically disappears and they forget about it. 

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Q: Which life lessons do you want your children to embrace most, and how do you help them stay true to themselves?
Their dreams should know no limit. I never put a limit on them of what they can’t do, and I think that’s the most important thing right now: To let their imaginations flourish and support them. I know it may sound like a cliché, but I want them to feel like the world is their oyster. A lot of people gave me a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t get into the ring – they said, “women shouldn’t box,” and I just started a business of my own and was expected to head in that direction. I hope to impart that their aspirations have no boundaries. As long as I can keep them thinking like that, and keep people away from them that are going to shut that down, I’ll be happy.

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Q: Red Carpet aside, what does your daily beauty and fashion regimen look like?
I believe beauty comes from within. Also, I love beautiful skin, skin that's clear and glowing, so I keep mine clean, hydrated, and moisturized. But I also think a lot of it comes from taking care of yourself, eating right, drinking a lot of water. When it comes to fashion, it’s just such a powerful way to show my true self with the world.

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Q: T.J. Maxx’s Maxx You Project helps women embrace what makes them unique. Tell us more about the project and, of course, what makes you, you?
The Maxx You Project is an ongoing initiative to inspire and help women embrace their individuality. This fall, I’m thrilled to continue my partnership with the Maxx You Project Lab. We’re hitting the road and inviting women to participate in an immersive live experience that features a series of playful, thought-provoking and interactive activities designed to help them explore their strengths and uncover something new about themselves to reach their highest potential.  

I already feel like I have a better understanding of my own individuality, by discovering how complex and ever-changing it is. With every new milestone in my life what makes me me continues to evolve – boxing, motherhood, being an author and TV host. There’s no one role that describes me. Like most women, I am multidimensional. And I know all too well the challenges of being put into a box. While my identity is constantly shifting, I always stay true to myself by always making sure I am following the steps needed to reach the goals I have set for myself. I also make a habit of slowing down, meditating and listening to my own intuition when I need guidance or clarity. 

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Q: Women can get so busy with work and raising children. It’s a part of our identity, but how can we be sure that the other parts of our identities also get developed and nurtured?

All too often people assume that when you have children, that’s all you are – a mom, and that’s not actually true. When you have a child, everything changes. Your whole thought process in the morning changes when you wake up. It really is a different experience for moms than it is for dads.  This all-consuming identity of being a mom may be reflective of traditional gender roles, so it’s important to stay true to yourself and not to fall victim to the stereotyping. You can be a mother and still let your individuality shine. Your time is more valuable and you’re forced to be more selective about how you spend it – you’re not the only person in the equation anymore.

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Once you discover more about yourself and identify what makes you unique, you can really focus on what exactly you want to nurture when you’re not on mommy-duty. At a certain point you learn how to say no to certain things because there’s only so much nurturing to go around. Learn how to prioritize and don’t feel guilty about not being able to extend yourself. Because we’re mothers, and what’s going to end up happening is if mom breaks down, the whole ship breaks down. So you have to take care of you first.

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