Jessica Simpson fired back at actress Natalie Portman over a statement she made criticizing the former pop singer over a “bikini virgin” photo that featured Simpson more than a decade ago.
Simpson explained why she participated in the photo shoot, and made her own criticism of Portman’s comments, which she called an attempt to shame her.
Her letter, posted on Twitter, was addressed to Portman directly.
“I was disappointed this morning when I read that I ‘confused’ you by wearing a bikini in a published photo taken of me when I was still a virgin in 1999,” Simpson wrote.
“As public figures,” she explained, “we both know our image is not totally in our control at all times, and that the industry we work in often tries to define us and box us in. However, I was taught to be myself and honor the different ways all women express themselves, which is why I believed then – and I believe now – that being sexy in a bikini and being proud of my body are not synonymous with having sex.”
“I have always embraced being a role model to all women to let them know that they can look however they want, wear whatever they want and have sex or not have sex with whomever they want,” she continued.
“The power lies within us as individuals,” she concluded. “I have made it my practice to not shame other women for their choices. In this era of Time’s Up and all the great work you have done for women, I encourage you to do the same.”
“Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me”
Simpson was responding to comments from Portman saying she was confused by what she saw as mixed messages from the photo.
“I remember being a teenager,” said Portman, “and there was Jessica Simpson on the cover of a magazine saying ‘I’m a virgin’ while wearing a bikini, and I was confused.”
“Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl,” she added.
“The media’s mixed messages”
Portman apologized on Instagram to Simpson.
“Thank you for your words,” Portman replied. “I completely agree with you that a woman should be allowed to dress however she likes and behave however she likes and not be judged.”
“I only meant to say I was confused — as a girl coming of age in the public eye around the same time — by the media’s mixed messages about how girls and women were supposed to behave,” she explained. “I didn’t mean to shame you and I’m sorry for any hurt my words may have caused. I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe.”
The photo shoot was for GQ magazine in 2005.