Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson may seem worlds apart, but their names recently came together in headlines unexpectedly when Portman referenced the singer in an interview … much to Simpson’s chagrin.
The actress made comments in an interview with USA Today about the sexualized way Simpson was portrayed by the music industry early on in her career, and Simpson didn’t like that so much.
“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 told the outlet. “Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl.”
It was not a comment that Simpson could let slide. She wrote a very lengthy (and very red) letter and posted it to Twitter, highlighting her perspective and saying she is “disappointed” by Portman’s quip.
“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,” she wrote. “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 finished by bringing up Time’s Up, in which Portman is an active member.
“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,” she continued. “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.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Portman issued an apology to Simpson via ET. “I would never intend to shame anybody and that was absolutely not my intention,” Portman said. “I was really talking about mixed media messages out there for young women and completely apologize for any hurt it may have caused because that was definitely not my intention.”
“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,” added Portman. “I could have made my message without naming.”
UPDATED: This story was updated from a previous version to include Portman’s apology on Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m.