This Star Accused Natalie Portman of "Shaming Other Women"
She called the actor out in a pointed social media post.
Natalie Portman probably isn't the sort of celebrity most people would assume would be involved in a public feud, but back in 2018, she evidently seriously offended another star with something she said in a newspaper interview. The Black Swan actor made the comment when she was promoting her movie Vox Lux, in which she portrays a pop star with a tragic and notorious past. And, in talking about how female singers were promoted when Portman was young, she mentioned one particular performer by name. The singer proceeded to call Portman out on social media, accusing her of "shaming other women." Read on to find out who took the actor to task for her remarks and how the conflict played out.
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Portman was "confused" by images she saw as a kid.
In Vox Lux, Portman plays Celeste, a pop star in her 30s who became a public figure after surviving a school shooting when she was young. Speaking to USA Today, the actor, now 40, reflected on the era of pop music that she grew up with and how the personas of those stars impacted her. First, she shouted out Madonna, saying, "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 when she turned to the TRL era of the late '90s/early '00s, Portman was more critical.
"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 told the publication. "Like, I don't know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl."
Simpson responded on social media.
Simpson, known better now as a business owner and designer, had some big hits in that time period. She started out in Christian music and was open about her decision to remain a virgin until marriage.
In response to Portman's comments, Simpson posted a statement to Instagram.
"@natalie portman – 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 singer 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."
"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 went on. "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."
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Portman reached out with an apology.
Portman quickly replied to Simpson's post with clarification and an apology.
"Thank you for your words," she wrote. "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. I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe."
The actor reiterated to People, "I would never want to shame anyone and I fully respect [Simpson] and her choices." She also added that she "made a mistake to say a name" as her criticism "was absolutely not directed at her."
She shared more during a talk show appearance.
Later the same month, Portman appeared on Watch What Happens Live, during which a viewer called in to ask how things were between her and Simpson. The actor said that, while they had only spoken online, she had "only respect and good feelings for her," as reported by SheKnows.
"I think there's no need for beef between women," Portman also said of the resolution. "We're all in the same society and living with the same pressures, and we are allies."