During a USA Today interview about her upcoming pop-star film “Vox Lux,” Portman shared her thoughts on how sexuality often influences the music industry before recalling a specific photo of Simpson that she said “confused” her as a young woman.
“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,” she said. “Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl.”
Portman’s statement prompted a swift response from Simpson, who criticized the Oscar-winning actress for shaming the way she dressed.
“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. “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. 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.”
Portman commented on Simpson’s Instagram post later on Wednesday, thanking her for her statement and clarifying that she was “confused” “by the media’s mixed messages about how girls and women are supposed to behave.”
“I didn’t mean to shame you and I’m sorry for any hurt my words may have caused,” Portman added. “I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe.”