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Kristin Cavallari on getting 'heat' over posting 'sexy' photos: 'I don't think that being a mom means we have to hide who we are'

The mom of three on family food traditions, setting rules around social media and phones and why she's in her "favorite phase" of parenting.

Kristin Cavallari on her family food traditions and setting rules around kids and social media. (Photo: Getty)
Kristin Cavallari on her family food traditions and setting rules around kids and social media. (Photo: Getty)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing.

How kids engage with social media is a top concern for most parents these days — including Kristin Cavallari. As a mom who is in the public eye, the former Laguna Beach star makes it a point to not show her three kids' faces online.

"I just want to give my kids the choice to be on social media or not," Cavallari, mom to Camden, 10, Jaxon, 9, and Saylor, 7, tells Yahoo Life. "One of them may not want to be, and that's perfectly OK. I don't want to rob them of that decision."

If her children appear in a photo, she typically obscures their faces or shows them posing with their backs to the camera. Sometimes these posts rile up her followers.

"I feel like it triggers a lot of people because most people show their kids," Cavallari explains. "I'm not judging anyone who does show their kids. I would love to show my kids; life would be a lot easier. I think the world of them, obviously, so I would love to show people."

Fame is a complicating factor. "It's obviously slightly different for us," notes the Uncommon James founder, who shares her kids with ex-husband and former NFL star Jay Cutler.

"If I post my kids I'm opening them up to a lot of criticism," she says. "Where, like, my best friend down the street — who no one knows who she is — she can post pictures of her kids and it's very different. I just want to make sure that my kids are fully equipped, if they decide to be on social media, for what's going to come their way, because they are going to get a lot of attention. I just want to make sure they're old enough and ready for that when the time comes, if they even want to be part of that."

Cavallari says her kids are "definitely too young" right now to be active on social media themselves. "No time soon, that's for sure," she laughs.

"I think 16 maybe for social media and you're going to be private and there's just going to be all of these rules," she adds, "because social media is a very scary place for a kid. It just is. You can get into a lot of trouble and end up somewhere you don't want to be. And so that's the part that scares me."

When it comes to having a phone, however, she is open to finding a "happy medium." With her oldest child Camden turning 11 this summer, it's a decision she expects to grapple with sooner rather than later.

"With the phones it's tricky because I think they're too young, but I also don't want them to be the last kid to have a phone," she says. "I feel like 12 is maybe a good age for a phone, but like the bare minimum phone — like, you're not gonna be on TikTok, you're not gonna be on all of these things. I want it to be like text and call and that's it. Maybe you'll have a game or two. But I don't know. I haven't quite crossed that bridge."

The Back to the Beach podcaster is good at picking her battles. A lot of times that happens in the kitchen, where the author of three cookbooks — True Roots, True Comfort and the recently released Truly Simple — does her best to accommodate her kids' food aversions. Saylor, in particular, is wary of most seafood and all but "a handful" of vegetables. "All she wants is pasta," Cavallari says of her only daughter, which works out just fine given her latest partnership. The star will tapping into her Italian roots by helping Italian food brand Rao's Homemade launch its second-annual pop-up, The Saucery by Rao's Homemade, in Chicago. Opening June 9, the three-day pop-up will serve Cavallari's own baked penne, a recipe from Truly Simple subbed in with the new caramelized onion sauce from Rao's Homemade for a "subtle sweetness." The flavor is one of three new sauces, along with two new soups, being introduced at the pop-up, which will include a sauce flight bar, limited-edition fashion items inspired by the brand and a Friday (noon to 1 p.m.) meet and greet with Cavallari herself.

Cavallari credits her "100% Italian" dad with not only teaching her how to make classic Italian dishes — like the homemade meatballs she whips up every Christmas Eve — but also introducing her to Rao's Homemade. "They are by far my favorite, just because they're the closest thing to that authentic homemade flavor," she says. "I don't feel like I'm compromising flavor."

Cavallari is helping to launch The Saucery by Rao's Homemade pop-up featuring new vodka arrabbiata sauce, caramelized onion sauce and arrabbiata pizza sauce, plus new Italian-style lentil and butternut squash soups. (Photo: Courtesy of Rao's Homemade)
Cavallari is helping to launch The Saucery by Rao's Homemade pop-up featuring new vodka arrabbiata sauce, caramelized onion sauce and arrabbiata pizza sauce, plus new Italian-style lentil and butternut squash soups. (Photo: Courtesy of Rao's Homemade)

Anyone who follows Cavallari on social media is used to her glam shots modeling the latest wares from her Uncommon James line, some of which are met with comments like "three kids?" Is the attention flattering, or is it annoying that moms are expected to look a certain way?

"I don't really read my comments for the most part," Cavallari says. "It's helped me just mentally; it's been very freeing for me. But I think the one thing I do notice is I get a lot of heat for, I guess, posting like a sexy photo. I don't agree with the fact that once we become moms, we have to lose that whole side of ourselves. I think as moms and women ... we have so many sides to our personalities. Yes, I'm a mom, and that is the biggest part of my life, but it's not all of me. I have a lot of other sides to my personality. And so I don't think that being a mom means we have to hide who we are or lose a part of us. I guess I kind of go against the grain in that regard."

That said, she's OK with a little positive reinforcement.

"I guess I would see that as a compliment of people saying, you know, 'you don't look like you had three kids.' I work really hard — like, I'm in the gym consistently four to five days a week. I eat really well. I put in the time and the work. And so I would take that as a compliment, I guess.'"

Since her first appearance on Laguna Beach — a show her kids find "boring," she notes — Cavallari has exuded a "cool girl" image. That street cred doesn't always translate for tweens.

"My oldest has definitely been like, 'you're annoying,'" she laughs. "Like, if they have friends over and stuff and I'm like, 'so guys, what's going on?' and he's like, 'leave us alone, you're so annoying.'"

Even so, Cavallari says this stage of parenting "is my favorite phase."

"I love it so much because I'm having to have real conversations with my kids about relationships, whether that's with their friends, or my oldest has a quote-unquote 'girlfriend,'" she shares. "You know, like all these different things. ... This is where I think it just becomes really fun, because having those conversations with your kids allows that connection between the two of you. And so I feel really close to my kids. I think the hardest part is that ... you have to constantly show up. It's not like I can just be like, 'oh, you know, we'll figure it out tomorrow, go to bed, everyone's tired.' It's like, no, I have to show up for these conversations and I have to give real insight into these things. I feel like every moment is a teachable moment now, and because it's just me, it's not like I can be like, 'hey, can you go take this conversation?' Like, I have to show up every single day, even if I'm exhausted. But it's also the best part too."

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