When it comes to raising daughters, actress Angelina Jolie has had a lot of practice. She shares three daughters (and three sons) with Brad Pitt, and she’s making sure Zahara, Shiloh, and Vivienne understand there’s so much more to life than looking good.
“I tell my daughters, ‘What sets you apart is what you are willing to do for others. Anyone can put on a dress and makeup. It’s your mind that will define you,’” the actress-turned-humanitarian said in an interview for Elle magazine's March cover story. “Find out who you are, what you think, and what you stand for."
The 42-year-old mom of six is passionate about helping her girls—ages 13, 11, and 9—and girls all over the world. The UN ambassador and co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative hope her daughters will follow her lead and fight for others who don’t have the freedoms they do.
“I think of how hard women fought to get us to where we are today,” she says. "Everything counts, from the way you hold yourself in your daily life and educate yourself on your own rights, to solidarity with other women around the world."
In a world where girls start learning about gender stereotypes before they finish first grade, Jolie’s message is an important one. Research suggests she’s right to focus on her girls’ brains instead of on their beauty (though they are all beautiful). Telling girls they are strong and capable instills confidence, something Jolie’s daughters clearly already are.
The interview with Elle isn’t the first time Jolie has spoken out about how she is raising her children. In 2016 she told BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that not one of her children is interested in following her down the red carpet.
“None of my kids want to be actors,” she said, noting that they’re more musically inclined and still discovering their own talents and passions. “You don’t know who your children are until they show you who they are and they are just becoming whoever they want to be,” she added.
Zahara, Shiloh, and Vivienne may not know exactly who they want to be yet, but it’s clear Jolie is raising them to be girls who lead.