Jessica Simpson is no stranger to body shaming, and in her new memoir, Open Book, she documents the devastating impact it’s had on her over the years. Growing up in the spotlight, she was always scrutinized for weight fluctuations, but one moment stands out so much that Simpson dedicated an entire chapter of her book to it: “Death by Mom Jeans.”
In 2009, a photo of the popstar wearing high-waisted jeans, a leopard print belt, and black tank top went viral. Critics on social media blasted her figure while tabloids ran headlines about her weight gain. Though Simpson recalls feeling confident on stage, she says the response left her humiliated.
“This picture that circulated and went worldwide broke my heart. Not the picture necessarily, but the caption. Like, all the captions,” she said in an interview with Hoda Kotb on Today. “I was taken down by the world.”
In an interview with Glamour, Simpson elaborated on the experience: “I felt good up there, I felt confident, and then it ruined the stage for me, and the stage was my home. It broke my home. I’d already had broken moments within a home where I had to walk out of a marriage, but my stage has been like my home since I was like a child. That’s where I could be honestly alone with myself.”
The criticism also caused an uptick in her drinking, another issue Simpson details in Open Book. The 39-year-old singer turned designer opens up about her addiction to alcohol and pills, revealing she used them as coping mechanism for trauma caused by a childhood sexual assault, career anxiety, and relationship insecurities.