Women’s bodies have unfortunately always been a topic of public speculation and intrigue—too fat! Too skinny! Preeeeegnant?!—no matter what they do or don’t do with those bodies. For more than two decades, this has been especially true of Jessica Simpson, about whose body many have felt entitled to share their unsolicited opinions over the years.
And, despite opening up in interviews and her memoir, Open Book, about the psychological damage that media coverage caused, Simpson told Access Hollywood in an interview published Friday that—surprise!—the comments haven’t stopped. And now the performer and designer has three children of her own watching.
“Now my kids see me being still scrutinized and it’s very confusing to them,” Simpson said. “They’re like, ‘I don’t even understand this, why don’t they just say you look pretty, Mom? You look pretty.’ I wish I could explain it, I wish I could say for me that it’s gotten better but it still remains the same. And I don’t know why.”
The message she’d most like to impart to her kids, she said, is, “You be you.”
“I tell my kids, how you feel about yourself is how you should feel. You don’t dress for anybody else, you don’t try to look like anybody else. Somebody can inspire something, but truly you don’t have to be any other size.”
She said that not only has being the butt of criticism for her body helped shape her parenting, it’s helped her as a designer because she “[understands] every body and every woman and their mentality and how deserving they are of fashion and style.”
Simpson isn’t just keeping things positive in public, either. Her history has also made her aware of the example she’s setting for her kids.
“I try to not complain about myself in front of them,” she said. “I try to not diet, I try to not do any of that stuff, they just see me living a healthy lifestyle. That’s why I quit drinking. I was like ok, they’re gonna pick up on everything I do, so I gotta be a good role model. If I can be that for the world, then I gotta be it for my kids.”