Jessica Simpson says her heart was broken after she was bullied for wearing a pair of “mom jeans” in 2009, but that she felt even worse for her boyfriend at the time, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
In an interview on The Today Show with Hoda Kotb to promote her memoir, Open Book, the 39-year-old singer said the reaction to a viral photo of her while performing at a chili cook-off in South Carolina left her devastated. In the infamous pic, the former Newlyweds star wore a pair of high-waisted Grey Ant jeans with a double leopard print belt. The look was dubbed unflattering by haters, and Jessica, then just 28 years old, was bullied relentlessly online and in the media.
“This picture that circulated and went worldwide broke my heart,” Simpson told the Today host. “Not the picture necessarily, but the caption. Like, all the captions.”
Jessica said that while her jeans were only a size 4, her confidence took a major hit. She also felt ashamed for her boyfriend, Romo. Jessica clarified that Romo never made her feel bad about her body.
“I think that comes from other relationships,” Jessica said of her embarrassment for her then-boyfriend. “Tony never made me feel that way. I always felt confident when I was Tony. I was taken down by the world.”
After the photos went viral, Jessica said she felt “a dysmorphia set in.” Her lack of body confidence caused her to turn to drinking.
In 2010, the singer addressed the media obsession with her weight. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jessica admitted that her lowest point came during the “mom jeans situation,” which had people buzzing about her “weight gain” for a full year. Jessica told the talk show queen that at the time the jeans photo went viral, her size fluctuated between a size 4 and 6.
Jessica told Oprah that it was impossible for her to ignore the bullying because it was “everywhere.”
“The voices were sometimes in my head when I would fall asleep — the voices of people’s judgements,” she said, per ABC News. “Of course it would bother any woman. The fact that I was famous last year for gaining 10 pounds was ridiculous.”
In the same interview, Jessica said she loves her curves and never wants to go back to her super-skinny “Daisy Duke” weight from her stint in The Dukes of Hazzard movie.
Ten years and three kids later, Jessica looks better than ever. The blond beauty recently posed in a form-fitting black dress while promoting her book.
Jessica’s Open Book contains a chapter titled “Death By Mom Jeans” which recounts the body-shaming experience that took place three years before she actually became a mom.