Jessica Simpson calls out Natalie Portman for 'disappointing' comments on 1999 bikini photo
In the movie Vox Lux, Natalie Portman plays a school shooting survivor who unexpectedly becomes a pop star. As she grapples with fame and fortune, she flies off the rails, transforming into a monstrous diva. Critics say Portman gives a ferocious performance, capturing the catastrophic kamikaze flame-out of so many Hollywood celebs.
During an interview with USA Today, the Black Swan star reflected on provocative pop culture. As a kid, she felt inspired by Madonna, who brazenly broke boundaries, laying down the template for female pop icons in the 80's. However, in the 90's, she felt confused by the virgin-vixen paradigm pushed by the music industry. "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,” said Portman. "Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl."
Jessica Simpson clapped back on Instagram, calling Portman's comment "disappointing." She argues women have the right to wear sexy bikinis if they choose to, and notes that it's difficult to control your public image.
"@Natalieportman — 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. 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 believe now — that being sexy in a bikini and being proud of my body art not synonymous with having sex.
"I have always embraced being a role model to all women to let them know they can look however they want, wear whatever they want and have sex or not have sex with whomever they want. They power lies within us as individuals. 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."
In the comments section, Natalie Portman apologized to Jessica Simpson , explaining that she did not intend to body-shame:
"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. 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. I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe."
Speaking with PEOPLE, Portman reiterated her apology, and admitted that she "made a mistake." "I would never want to shame anyone and I fully respect her and her choices," said the actress. "I was talking about the confusion I felt as a young girl seeing the messages that I felt the media was sending out to young girls about very specific ways we should be. I made a mistake to say a name. It was absolutely not directed at her. I feel bad that she was hurt."
Well, there you have it: celebrity feud over. I'm still waiting for Natalie Portman to apologize for the Star Wars prequels, but hey, one step at a time.