Jessica Simpson has called out Natalie Portman in an open letter saying she is ‘disappointed’ the actress ‘shamed’ her for posing in a bikini in a photo that was taken nearly two decades ago.
Natalie, 37, plays a pop star in her upcoming film, Vox Lux, and while promoting the movie, she reflected on the singers she grew up with, recalling a photo she saw of Jessica, 38, when she was a teen.
‘I remember being a teenager, 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,’ Natalie told USA Today.
Take that: Jessica Simpson (L), 38, called out Natalie Portman (R), 37, for saying she was ‘confused’ by an old magazine cover that showed the singer wearing a bikini as a virgin
Attention: Jessica took to social media on Tuesday to share an open letter to Natalie, tagging the actress in the post
Just one day after the interview was published, Jessica took to Instagram and Twitter to share her powerful response, tagging Natalie in the post.
‘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,’ she wrote.
‘As public figures, 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,’ she continued.
Looking back: Jessica and Natalie were both famous stars in 1999 (pictured), the year the photo was allegedly taken
Mystery: It’s unclear what photo they were referring to. It doesn’t appear as though Jessica covered a magazine in 1999, and she isn’t wearing a bikini in the covers she shot in 2000
‘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. The power lies within us as individuals.’
Hmm: Jessica donned an American flag bikini on the cover of GQ’s July 2005 issue, but the photos were taken nearly three years into her marriage to Nick Lachey
Jessica ended the post by acknowledging all the work Natalie has done to end sexual harassment as part of the Time’s Up movement.
‘I have made it my practice to not shame other women for their choices,’ she wrote.
‘I this era of Time’s Up and all the great work you have done for women, I encourage you to do the same.’
Many commenters applauded Jessica for her statement, while some argued that was Natalie calling out the magazine’s portrayal of young women — not the singer.
It remains unclear what photo they were referring too, but it appears as though the singer knew exactly what image the actress meant.
Although Natalie called the image in question a magazine cover, Jessica said it was a ‘published photo’ that was taken in 1999 when she was about 19 years old.
Nothing but respect: Natalie later apologized to Jessica on Instagram, explaining that she never meant to hurt or shame her
Plea: Jessica referenced all the ‘great work’ Natalie has done with the Time’s Up movement when she urged her ‘to not shame other women for their choices’
Good point: Jessica, who is pregnant with her third child, pointed out that ‘being sexy in a bikini’ is ‘not synonymous with having sex’
Interesting coincidence: Natalie plays a pop star in her upcoming film, Vox Lux. Her character Celeste rises to fame in 1999 — the same year Jessica’s first album debuted
Interestingly enough, Natalie’s Vox Lux character Celeste becomes a pop star in 1999, the same year Jessica did.
Jessica entered the music scene that year with her debut studio album Sweet Kisses. She was openly Christian and candidly spoke about the vow she made to her father to abstain from sex until marriage.
She did wear a swimsuit on the cover of Teen magazine in July 2000 — but it was a one-piece, not a bikini. There was also no reference to her being a virgin on the cover.
Jessica also donned a red, white, and blue American flag bikini on the cover of GQ’s July 2005 issue, but the photos were taken nearly three years after she lost her virginity to Nick Lachey on their wedding night.
Natalie has been famous since she was a child star, but she told USA Today that she thinks musicians have a harder time than actors.
‘People who succeed in music, their fandom is much larger than any actor, and it’s them as themselves whereas actors are in character,’ she said. ‘There’s a difference in expectation.’
In the comments section of Jessica’s Instagram post, Natalie apologized to the businesswoman, explaining she never meant to hurt or shame her.
‘Thank you for your words. 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,’ she wrote.
‘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.
‘I didn’t mean to shame you and I’m sorry for any hurt my words may have caused,’ Natalie added. ‘I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe.’
Natalie shared a similar sentiment while speaking to Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday.
‘I would never intend to shame anybody and that was absolutely not my intention,’ she said. ‘I was really talking about mixed media messages out there for young women and completely apologize for any hurt it may have caused because that was definitely not my intention.’
She added: ‘What I said was I was confused by mixed messages when I was a young girl growing up, and there are a lot of messages for how women should be, and women should be allowed to do whatever they want.’
However, she did note that she should never have named anyone while trying to make her point.
‘It is a mistake to say anyone’s name,’ she said. ‘I could have made my message without naming.’