Jessica Simpson reflects on 'cruel' weight comments: 'I spent so many years beating myself up'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·5-min read

Jessica Simpson reflects on being fat-shamed — and spending "so many years beating myself up" over hateful criticism.

The singer and actress is promoting the paperback version of her mega-hit memoir, Open Book. The new release includes actual pages from her journal, including one processing being called "fat" for wearing so-called "mom-jeans," in a size 4, to a 2009 performance.

In her handwriting, Simpson, whose body was widely celebrated a few years earlier in her Daisy Dukes, wrote, "Today my heart breaks because people say I'm fat." And asked: "Why does this cruel opinion of the world get to me?"

Now a 40-year-old mom of three, Simpson reflected on the hurt and what she's learned, telling People magazine, "There is a wonderful movement for body positivity now and the response to that portion of my story has been overwhelmingly supportive. I don't think people always realized that there was a human being, a beating heart and working eyes with actual feelings behind those headlines and that words can hurt and stay with you for a lifetime."

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She's glad she wrote about the pain she publicly suffered in the book, which was an instant New York Times best-seller in 2020.

"I spent so many years beating myself up for an unrealistic body standard that made me feel like a failure all of the time," she said. "I am still a work in progress when it comes to self-criticism but now I have the tools to quiet those voices in my head when they speak up," adding, "I believe in my heart that a healthy body and a sound mind-body connection are what's truly important and help me accept imperfections as beauty.

Simpson, who lost 100 pounds in six months after having her third child, also spoke body image to Entertainment Tonight, saying she recommends people "throw out the scale because the scale can literally mess our entire day up. I had Eric [Johnson, her husband since 2014] walk it to the trash can. I have to rid myself of measuring up to what weight I should be because I've had so many people tell me what weight I need to be."

She added, "It doesn't happen overnight and you have to be patient with yourself."

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The book also memorably revealed Simpson was molested as a child by a family friend, was encouraged to take diet pills by a music exec as a teen, had a drinking problem and underwent two tummy tucks (one almost killed her). She also wrote about her divorce from Nick Lachey, emotional affair with Johnny Knoxville and nine breakups with John Mayer.

Another new page from her journal reflected on the end of her marriage to Lachey, whom she rose to superstardom with on their Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica reality show. While she was done with the marriage, which lasted from 2002 and 2006, and secretly moved out of their home when he away, she felt hurt when he moved on quickly with now-wife Vanessa Lachey.

"So, Nick, you're with another already? Seems that you forgot the love you spoke to me," Simpson wrote. "I'm saddened beyond belief. Alone in the dark, with no one to call my own."

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Simpson told ET that she hasn't heard from any of her exes since the book came out. However, "when I met Eric, I did change my phone number, email, everything. And the people that do still communicate with any of my exes," also including former NFL quarterback Tony Romo, "they know not to ever bring them up. It's like a rule."

The Open Book paperback, out now, also includes a new introduction, in which Simpson wrote more about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. On Tuesday's Good Morning America, she revealed that at a book signing in Manhattan last year, to which she had brought 8-year-old daughter Maxwell, a woman thanked her for sharing her story, saying it encouraged her to seek help for her own abuse.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Jessica Simpson poses with Eric Johnson, Birdie Mae Johnson, Ace Knute Johnson and Maxwell Drew Johnson during a celebration of her memoir
Jessica Simpson with Eric Johnson and their kids — Birdie Mae Johnson, Ace Knute Johnson and Maxwell Drew Johnson — in February 2020. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Macy's)

"Maxwell was like, 'Mom, what is she talking about?'" Simpson recalled. "So I like held the line of autographs. I guess this is the time that I'm going to talk to my daughter about it — here in Times Square. But it was a perfect moment because she saw how being open and being honest with your feelings, how you can inspire people that way ... how it can make a change in people's lives."

She said her two readers, also including 7-year-old son Ace, "have read some of" the book. "There is nothing that is off limits. We're very open as a family." And she said speaking about sexual abuse is especially important because her children are at the age at which it happened to her.

Jessica Simpson's Open Book is now in paper back with new additions. (Photo: HarperCollins)
Jessica Simpson's Open Book is now in paper back with new additions. (Photo: HarperCollins)

As for the often-asked question she gets about having more kids, Simpson told ET "Oh, lord no," saying having Birdie, now 2, "was the last pregnancy my little body could endure." (FWIW, she said no more before Birdie.)

As for the big Netflix deal which came as a result of Open Book, she's having fun working on both the scripted and unscripted projects that are in the works. As for who will play her in the unscripted one? "I think it has to be an unknown" actress, she told ET.

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