As someone who has been a successful part of the entertainment industry for more than two decades, Jennifer Garner has seen her fair share of career evolution, and is happy where she is today.
But in an interview for InStyle‘s 25th anniversary September issue, covered by Julianne Moore, the 47-year-old acting powerhouse recalls how her decision to become a mother meant others would see her in a light that she didn’t necessarily expect.
“I feel a lot less stressed about the industry and my place in it now than I used to. When you’re one of the ‘hot girls’ of the moment, you’re making choices that define you,” she says. “I was defined first by choosing to go on hiatus, and then I was very quickly defined by pregnancies and babies.”
“Now my choices are defined by different things,” Garner continues. “I don’t have the offers coming at me that I had during that first cover, but I know that what does come my way is because someone really wants to see me take a shot at a role.”
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“That first cover” of InStyle was in 2004 for Garner who, at the time, was widely known for her role as Sydney Bristow on Alias and from films like 13 Going on 30 (which was released that same year), Pearl Harbor and Daredevil — the latter two alongside her future husband (now ex) Ben Affleck.
“I really love that young girl on the  cover. Bless her buttons,” the actress tells InStyle now. “I had been working professionally in the industry for 11 years, and I thought, ‘Wow, I have been through some things.’ I thought I’d been around the block.”
“Fifteen years later I realize, ‘My God, I hadn’t even been through anything bad yet,’ ” she admits. “My life is so intact, and I have so much respect for how fragile that is.”
The actress is now a mother of three children — son Samuel Garner, 7, plus daughters Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, 10, and Violet Anne, 13 — with Affleck, 46, whom she finalized her divorce from this past October. (The two split in June 2015 following 10 years of marriage.)
“It’s so gnarly to be a kid now,” Garner tells InStyle. “I guard my kids’ privacy as much as I possibly can, and I’ve never posted pictures of them on Instagram. I used to refuse to say their names during interviews — but everyone knows their names! I would just say ‘my eldest,’ which I still do out of habit a lot.”
“I’m sure there are times my kids would really love to see themselves reflected on my social media in a fun way and to have the attention they would get from that. But I’ve fought too hard against it. It would feel hypocritical,” she explains. “There’s no implied judgment of people who do put their kids up there; I just don’t think most kids have been hounded in the way that mine were when they were little.”
“We were completely hounded 24/7 for 10 solid years, and it changes you. You no longer take things like being able to go to your mailbox for granted. I even stopped going to the farmers market because I was being photographed there constantly,” Garner says, adding with a laugh, “I realized, ‘I’m ruining the farmers market for everyone; this is selfish.’ “
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