In the upcoming film, Vox Lux, Natalie Portman plays an aging pop superstar navigating the rise to celebrity status. She spoke to USA Today yesterday about the role, recalling her own childhood and the icons she grew up with. Portman cited Jessica Simpson as an example, and she wasn’t happy about it.
“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,” Portman said. “Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl.” Simpson shared her reaction in a tweet: “@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 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,” her statement continues. “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.”
The beef quickly cooled when Portman thanked Simpson in an Instagram post: “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,” Portman wrote. “I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe.” Glad these two worked things out.
— Jessica Simpson (@JessicaSimpson) December 5, 2018