i was still a virgin in 1999

A Guide to the Short, Not-That-Dramatic Misunderstanding Between Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson

Photo: Getty Images

Sometimes the world of media and celebrity gives us a rich, dramatic feud — think Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Fukunaga, Bradley Cooper and a press tour where he doesn’t repeat the same six lines ad nauseam. Sometimes, it gives us a weird and totally unexpected misunderstanding between a pop star and an actress, and a movie about a pop star. Such is the case of Jessica Simpson versus Natalie Portman.

On Wednesday afternoon, Simpson posted a lengthy, puzzling statement addressed to 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,” Simpson began. “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. However, I was taught to be myself and honor the different ways 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.”

Um, where did this come from? So begins the curious case of Jessica Simpson, Natalie Portman, and “a published photo of me taken when I was still a virgin in 1999.” It turns out that in an interview with USA Today about her new movie Vox Lux, Portman referenced an image of Simpson, as the image related to pop star stereotypes. “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 paper. “Like, I don’t know what this is trying to tell me as a woman, as a girl.”

After seeing Simpson’s reply, Portman clarified in an Instagram comment: “Thank you for your words. 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,” Portman wrote. “I didn’t mean to shame you and I’m sorry for any hurt my words may have caused.”

There you have it, no feud detected! Now we can all enjoy life on the same side, believing that Natalie Portman should’ve won the Oscar for Jackie.

Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson Virgin Drama, Explained