I never thought I would say this about a book written by Jessica Alba, but The Honest Life was one of the few breaths of fresh air I’ve experienced in the otherwise cloudy, dark and scary rabbit hole that is the holistic health community.
Let me preface this review by saying two things:
1. I love celebrity culture and would probably enjoy any book written by a celebrity, on any topic.
2. No but seriously, celebrities are so fascinating, take this review with a grain of salt.
I am in no way bashing the holistic health community except to say that there is a lot of fear mongering going on, and I daresay a fair amount of misinformation. Anyone who desires to live a less toxic and more natural life knows that this is no small feat in our modern world. There are chemical lurking in everything, and nearly every modern convenience seems to be on the ‘no’ list when it comes to holistic health (and for good reason!). Most of my rabbit hole internet reading on holistic health has lead me to well meaning bloggers who seem to want to scare my non organic pants off because every single thing in my life is ganging up with the intent to kill me in horrible and graphic ways, and/or are presenting me with a slew of ‘natural’ remedies that quite frankly do not work. And I don’t really blame them for that! We live in a world of quick fixes, and I so desperately want to quick fix my way into a healthy and non toxic lifestyle.
During my continuing holistic health journey, I’ve said yes to a lot of weird things. You want me to eat seeds everyday? I’ll eat seeds everyday. You want me to pay someone to stick needles in my forehead every week? Here’s my credit card. You want me to steam my private parts? Well, I’m not quite there yet, but I would. Probably. I’d need a glass of wine and a darn good reason to do it, but in the name of holistic health it’s a yes for me.
But, for the love, I want to wash my hair! And wear deodorant so I don’t stink! And continue working in an office environment with WIFI! And look like a pretty and normal person who wears makeup and curls my hair and doesn’t leave the stench of herbs everywhere I go! AND I DON’T WANT TO BE MADE TO FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT. And I feel like Jessica Alba gets that. In fact, I feel like Jessica Alba gets me.
I want to be informed, and I want to lead as healthy and organic and green a life as possible. Holistically healthy living is a huge commitment, and it takes a while to transition into- you’ve got to find product replacements and supplements and learn how to cook new foods and get rid of half the stuff you own. It takes times, effort, money, and a huge shift in the way you view your life and the world around you. So why can’t there be a supportive community out there of people who are all trying their best to do this together? I don’t know. There should be! I think this book is a major step in the right direction. The Honest Life is a non judgmental but still highly informative approach to the dangers of our modern world and how we can make simple and effective switches.
My main take-a-ways from the book:
- Nobody is regulating all of these ‘organic’ labels on products. Companies can pretty much say whatever they want about how natural or organic a product is without anything to back it up. This is called ‘Greenwashing.’ I am a big label reader, and I always believe those labels are telling the truth, because I am a naive and trusting person. I am now taking a much closer look at my ‘organic’ products and looking for specific claims about what the product does or does not contain- I’ve found that most products that are legitimately trying to be green/non toxic will say things like ‘Made from 98% organic material’ or ‘Contains no synthetic fragrance.’
- Ask a lot of questions and find experts you trust (because you aren’t an expert on most things). I really enjoyed the section on parenting in this book- some of it was from Jessica Alba’s experience with her kids, but most of it was advice passed on from friends and older women. I don’t have kids, but this is how I want to raise my kids- with the help of a lot of other people who know what they are doing!
- Organic, healthy, non toxic living pairs well with a simple lifestyle. Less stuff, more time with friends and family. Less reliance on modern conveniences, more reliance on fresh, natural and God given things. Less perfection, more grace. I love the idea that these two things can go hand in hand so beautifully.
- All you can do when it comes to your health is your very best. And truth be told, your best may not be good enough. You may still get sick, or have your skin break out like a teenager, or, God forbid, develop one of those nasty cancers everyone is threatening these days. You only have some control over your health, not all, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you do. Thinking you do will only lead you down the path of anxiety and judgement, and that’s a terrible path to walk down your entire life. So do your best, and live life fully for as long as you have life to live. No one can give you permission to feel that way but yourself. Read your hippie health blogs with a grain of salt, do your research, and don’t be afraid to keep trying new things to see what works best. If your natural deodorant makes you smell like marijuana, stop using it and try something else. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything. 🙂