Natalie Portman drew controversy after comments she made about a 1999 bikini photo of Jessica Simpson and her virginity - and she has since apologised for them.
The actress, who is a prominent women’s advocate and a loud supporter of Hollywood’s Times Out movement, told USA Today:
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.’
Portman’s comments prompted a swift response from Simpson herself, who released a statement on Twitter:
‘I was disappointed this morning when I read that I “confused” you by wearing a bikini published in a photo taken of me when I was still a virgin in 1999,’ she began.
As public figures, we both know our image is not totally in our control at all times, and that industry we work in often tries to define us and box us in.
However, I was taught to be myself and honor [sic] 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. 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.
Some people echoed her sentiments
Others disagreed with the characterisation of Portman's comments
And argued that Simpson's photo was over-sexualised - and the fault lies with the industry
In light of the furore her comments caused, Portman apologised.
On Wednesday, Portman addressed the issue and told Entertainment Tonight:
I would never intend to shame anybody and that was absolutely not my intention. I was really talking about mixed media messages out there for young women and completely apologise 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.