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Natalie Portman apologizes to Jessica Simpson for bikini-shaming comments

Natalie Portman, left, commented on Jessica Simpson's Instagram

Natalie Portman, left, commented on Jessica Simpson's Instagram Wednesday: "I have nothing but respect for your talent." Credit: Composite; Getty Images / Frazer Harrison, Getty Images / David Livingston

Academy Award winner Natalie Portman has apologized to singer and fashion entrepreneur Jessica Simpson following a comment the actress made that Simpson took as a personal criticism.

"Thank you for your words,"  Portman, 37, wrote Wednesday in the comments of a Simpson Instagram post, where the singer questioned the actress telling USA Today in an interview: "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."

"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," wrote "Black Swan" Oscar winner Portman, who was raised primarily in Jericho. "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 are supposed to behave. I didn't mean to shame you and I'm sorry for any hurt my words may have caused."

She added, "I have nothing but respect for your talent and your voice that you use to encourage and empower women all over the globe."

Simpson, 38, had responded to Portman's newspaper comment by saying across her social media Wednesday she "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. 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."

Simpson — who is the mother of a 6-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, with another daughter on the way — went on to say 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."

Portman, who plays a singer in her new film, "Vox Lux," opening Friday, faced harsh criticism from Simpson defenders on her own Instagram page. One commenter offered a broader context, writing that Portman "was referring to a thought she had as a 17 year old girl. About how being at that age, things of that topic are confusing. . . . Read what she said before getting all stressed."

Simpson's publicist said the singer had "no further comment at this time."

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