Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson Spar Over Image Ideas

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Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson have come to well– less a feud and more of a sparring of emotions concerning an issue that inspires strong emotion. Mainly, the portrayal of women in media, especially when aimed at younger women. When discussing some influences on her movie, Vox Lux, and on her in general, Natalie Portman brought up Madonna, saying, in USA Today:

“I felt really lucky to have her as a little kid, because I saw someone who was brazen and disobedient and provocative and trying to mess with people and always changing — I thought it was a great thing to see in a woman growing up… [but] 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.”

Jessica Simpson was of course one of many young women more or less preyed on and exploited by the media machine back in the day, selling a sexualized virginity that could also be found with Britney Spears’ music and image. Of course, for all of that hyper intellectualizing it’s easy to forget, that there is a human being on the other side of that criticism, and Jessica Simpson was distraught with being remembered and dehumanized by virtue of Portman’s analysis.

Simpson tweeted out: “@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.”

The Tweet can be seen below:

Natalie Portman herself responded, saying: “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. It is a mistake to say anyone’s name. … I could have made my message without naming.”


Interesting, and much to learn from both sides.

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