Jessica Simpson on tuning out mom shaming: 'I've judged myself harder than anybody's judged me'
Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child rearing.
If there's one thing that life in the spotlight — as a pop princess, reality star, actress, fashion mogul and author — has prepared Jessica Simpson for, it's dealing with mom shamers. Speaking to Yahoo Life's So Mini Ways, the native Texan, 41, shares how she's learned to tune out negative comments about her family, which includes husband Eric Johnson and their three kids, daughters Maxwell, 9, and Birdie, 3, and son Ace, 8.
"I never really understand the negativity and I'm very good at not letting it affect me, but it took time to get to that place because I feel like I've been shamed for my weight for so long that it's just been a part of me," Simpson, who recently spoke out about gaining, and losing, 100 pounds three times. "And the only thing that I could do was embrace myself in those moments and read the good comments and realize that those are the people that will be a part of the change in this world; it's not gonna be the negative ones. So those are the people that I'm posting for. And listen: Everybody's gonna have their opinions and they're gonna talk and they're gonna do their thing in regards to how you're living your life.
"I really try not to to read the negative stuff," she adds. "People end up telling me, like, 'I can't believe that people acted so negatively to that.' I was like, 'Oh, crap. They did?' Because I just trained myself to see past it. I don't accept it, because if I'm putting something out with a positive intention, I'm keeping it positive and I'm not gonna let the naysayers have any input. It doesn't hold me back; it definitely doesn't. If anything, it makes me more driven and it's one of those things like, 'Oh, you're gonna like me. I'm gonna make you like me.' ... Even if people don't like you, the right people will."
Simpson's husband is at the top of that list of "right people." Married since 2014, they have nailed co-parenting three kids; the "Irresistible" singer says they're "really good at tapping in and tapping out" and taking over when the other needs a little kids-free breather. The couple also makes it a priority to keep the romance alive, which isn't an easy feat when you're outnumbered by children. Though Simpson laughs that they'll often wake up to find themselves passed out on the couch, having been too worn out after putting the kids to bed to make a proper night of it, she gushes that she loves Johnson "more now than I did when I first met him." She's proud to be able to model that deepened love for her children.
"Our kids love to see us in love, and we'll embarrass them, like, 'Mom and Daddy are kissing," she says with a grin. "We'll just embarrass them and then they know that we need our space. So they're like, 'Ugh, let's just go get on our iPads for a little bit and give Mom and Dad time.' ... Truly, they love us spending time alone. They never complain about it. They always want us, but they also know how important our relationship is and how important it is for them, for us to not have frustrations or conflicting opinions. And Eric and I will just go walk in the neighborhood and talk through things and we end up coming back super-inspired. That's just one of those things ... you can't let your kids take over your life."
Spending time outdoors — either on a walk with Johnson or cheering on her kids at a sporting event — is a major family pastime for the Los Angeles-based star. It's also why she's partnered with Flonase, the allergy medication she personally swears by to keep both her and her kids' allergy symptoms at bay. Simpson says living in California — where wildfires forced her family to evacuate their home in 2018 — has exacerbated her allergies, though they've always been something she's had to worry about as a pop star.
"For so long, I didn't know the difference between allergies and sickness because it felt the same. And as a singer, if I have post-nasal drip or a raspy voice, I freak out," she says. "But I feel like allergies shouldn't hold you back, you know?"
Keeping her kids healthy is just part of her job as a busy mom. In between running around with her active brood and planning a birthday celebration for a soon-to-be-10-year-old Maxwell, the superstar is simply trying to take it all in.
"As far as parenting goes, I mean, everything is exhausting, right?" she says. "Sometimes it feels impossible, but then your kid will say something so outrageously amazing — this tiny human you're raising to be, like, the future of our world. You never know what they're gonna end up doing.
"Eric and I, as parents, are always focused on just being present and having patience," she adds. "It's definitely hard and your patience gets tested, which takes you out of a present moment. But [the lesson] is just when you're with them, to listen to them. And I learn more from my kids than I do anybody. They have such a healthy perspective on things. A nonjudgmental, loving perspective — that childlike faith that you always want to always go back to as an adult."
As a mom, she prefers to let her kids follow their intuition, rather than shutting them down with an instant "no." Over time, Simpson — who laid bare her life and the lessons she's learned through adversity in her 2020 memoir, Open Book — has learned to give herself grace, too.
"There's a lot of insecure people in this world, and I have been that insecure person that has put judgment on people," she says of weathering criticism. "I've judged myself harder than anybody's judged me, trust me. But I've realized that the judgments don't have a place in my life, as long as I am happy and I know that what I'm doing is authentic and pure and real and honest and open. Like, there's really nothing you can judge. "
—Video produced by Stacy Jackman.
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