In the singer’s new memoir, Open Book, Simpson says that the iconic outfit “created a gold standard Jessica, the ‘before’ for every ‘is she fat or is she thin’ story for the rest of my career”.
And, according to the 39-year-old, she used to punish herself with diet pills when she did not live up to the standards set by society.
Speaking to People about the judgement she faced, Simpson said: “It’s heartbreaking and I mean, I punished myself for it. I took diet pills. I heard it and I couldn’t not hear it in the back of my mind every time I was on stage, every time I walked out the door.”
One of the most hurtful parts, according to Simpson, was that her perceived flaws were out in the world, where she was being publicly criticised.
“I feel like we all look in the mirror and are not 100 per cent all the time,” she said. “I mean, we all see our flaws. Some, the others don’t see. And mine were just out there for the world to rip apart, when they weren’t even flaws. When they were made into flaws that I didn’t know I had.”
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According to the singer, the scrutiny was at its worst when a photo of her wearing “mom jeans” went viral in 2009.
“This picture that circulated and went worldwide broke my heart,” Simpson told Hoda Kotb during an interview on the Today show. “Not the picture necessarily, but the caption. Like, all the captions.”
The constant judgement she faced means that Simpson now refuses to read comments about her body, even when they are meant as “compliments” - because her focus isn’t on her appearance, but rather working out as a means of staying sober and staying active for her children, she told People.
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And while she was plagued by body image scrutiny for most of her career, she is grateful that times seem to be changing.
“I just thank God times are changing a little bit and people are standing up for themselves and making it not all about body image,” she told the outlet. “I can hopefully be part of the change that my daughters grow up in a world where [they] can accept [themselves] at any size.”
In her memoir, which is out today, Simpson also discussed her previous dependance on alcohol and drugs, which she said stemmed from childhood sexual abuse.