“The way people judge her, it’s unbelievable,” Simpson’s mom, Tina Simpson, said

By Julie Mazziotta
April 14, 2021 11:46 AM
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The intense scrutiny and body shaming that Jessica Simpson dealt with as a young star made her "want to be a recluse," the singer's mother, Tina Simpson, said.

Watching Jessica struggle with the criticism was difficult for Tina as a parent.

"I have to be honest: To me the hardest thing with Jessica has been the weight. Because the way people judge her, it's unbelievable," Tina, 61, told Sheinelle Jones on Today. "Body shaming is a terrible thing, and no girl should have to go through that — or guy. Period."

Tina said that her daughter didn't want to leave the house because of the negative headlines about her body.

"Because of [the body shaming], it catapulted all kinds of different emotions and different things in her life too, you know? And then it made her want to be a recluse, in a lot of ways, and to hide out and not want to get out of her house," Tina said.

Tina Simpson and Jessica Simpson
Tina and Jessica Simpson
| Credit: John Shearer/Getty

Jessica, 40, has said that the headlines about her body were so critical that they left a hurt that can "stay with you for a lifetime." In a new section of her bestselling memoir Open Book, she included a journal entry from 2009 about the criticism around an outfit she wore at a concert.

Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson at the 2009 concert
| Credit: Logan Fazio/Getty

"Today my heart breaks because people say I'm fat," she wrote at the time. "Why does the cruel opinion of this world get to me?"

Reflecting on that time, Jessica told PEOPLE in March that she's glad to see that the conversation around bodies has changed, but that her experience was tough.

"There is a wonderful movement for body positivity now and the response to that portion of my story has been overwhelmingly supportive," she said. "I don't think people always realized that there was a human being, a beating heart and working eyes with actual feelings behind those headlines and that words can hurt and stay with you for a lifetime."

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The mom to Birdie Mae, 2, Maxwell Drew, 8½, and Ace Knute, 7½, with husband Eric Johnson said that she's still working on repairing her body image.

"I spent so many years beating myself up for an unrealistic body standard that made me feel like a failure all of the time," she said. "I am still a work in progress when it comes to self-criticism but now I have the tools to quiet those voices in my head when they speak up."

And she added, "I believe in my heart that a healthy body and a sound mind-body connection are what's truly important and help me accept imperfections as beauty."