Jessica Alba sports a sexy lace-up dress in Marie Claire

May 15, 2012 at 5:40 p.m. ET

Jessica Alba is sporting a very sexy tight lace-up dress on the cover of Marie Claire -- but her wardrobe contradicts what she says inside the mag. Read on to find out the conflict.

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba, sex symbol? No thank you. While the actress has definitely been marketed for her sensuous physical attributes, the mother of two says she wants to be elegant, not objectified. So why is she wearing a skin tight, lace up dress on the cover of Marie Claire?

Alba expressed her discomfort with the sexy in an interview with the magazine, saying it goes back to the beginning of her career when she was still a teen.

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"I had a show [Fox's Dark Angel] that premiered when I was 19," Alba explained, "and right away, everyone formed a strong opinion about me because of the way I was marketed. I was supposed to be sexy, this tough action girl. That's what people expected... I felt like I was being objectified, and it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to be chic and elegant!"

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"Now that I'm older, I've learned how to own it, but I'm still not very overt. There are some women who dress for men. I dress for myself. It took me some time to get here. Being a mom and feeling grown-up have helped. Now if I'm going to wear something short, it has to have a high neck or a little sci-fi toughness to it, an edge," she said, possibly explaining her cover look -- those laces certainly do have an edge.

Regardless, the actress said that while she doesn't mind getting attention for how she looks, she'd rather be low-key and let her mind do the work for her.

"I like to get positive attention. But if I have a choice between someone noticing in a negative way what I'm wearing and going, What was she thinking? or someone not noticing what I'm wearing, I would rather not make a statement at all and just have a good conversation instead."

Read the rest of the interview with Jessica Alba in the new issue of Marie Claire, hitting newsstands May 22.

Image courtesy Marie Claire