Natalie Portman made a comment about Jessica Simpson in a new interview with USA Today that caught the “With You” singer’s attention. “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,” she said.
The quote is from a larger story about Portman’s new movie Vox Lux, in which she plays a troubled pop star staging a career comeback. She was specifically referring to the “virgin/vixen” paradigm that several female singers embodied in the early-aughts, including Simpson, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera.
Simpson took the narrative back on Twitter, though, writing that she was “disappointed” in Portman’s words. “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,” she tweeted. “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.” (Simpson says the photo Portman is referring to was taken in 1999 when she was still a virgin.)
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 hasn’t responded to Simpson’s statement, but we’ll update this post if she does.