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Jessica Simpson reveals 1st thought after photo of herself 'broke my heart'

The singer and fashion designer opened up to Hoda Kotb about what it felt like to be body-shamed.
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/ Source: TODAY

Jessica Simpson knows firsthand how devastating it is to be body-shamed.

The singer and fashion designer, 39, opened up to Hoda Kotb in an interview airing Tuesday on TODAY about how humiliated she was after social media users ridiculed her for a photo that went viral in 2009.

99.9 Kiss Country 24th Annual Chili Cook Off
Simpson opened up about how devastated she felt after being body-shamed when photos of her wearing high-waisted jeans went viral in 2009. Logan Fazio / Getty Images

"This picture that circulated and went worldwide broke my heart. Not the picture necessarily, but the caption. Like, all the captions," Simpson recalled.

In the photos, Simpson is seen wearing high-waisted jeans while performing at a chili cook-off. Though she felt confident onstage, critics on social media blasted her physique. "I was taken down by the world," she shared.

Simpson devoted an entire chapter to the ordeal, titled "Death By Mom Jeans," in her powerful new memoir, "Open Book." The vitriol around the photos, she wrote, made her feel embarrassed for her then-boyfriend, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

It also caused an uptick in her drinking, another subject she candidly discusses in her book. "I definitely would drink. I'm like, 'I need to,'" said Simpson. "When you hear somebody say that they need to that's not a good sign."

Simpson's drinking got so bad at times, it interfered with her career.

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Simpson dishes about her tumultuous relationship with John Mayer in her new memoir. "We were great at intimacy. We were great at loving each other. That was easy Like, but the relationship was very complex," she said.Kevin Mazur / WireImage

In 2006, the singer was scheduled to perform "9 to 5" at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to her idol Dolly Parton. But things took a turn when she and her pop star beau John Mayer broke up earlier in the day.

"I drank before I went onstage. That is not John's fault. I'm the one that drank. I just tried to numb myself. And I was too numb that I couldn't connect with anyone. I couldn't connect to the song I already knew.

"I just stopped. Like, I just stopped. And I froze. And then I just said I was sorry. And that Dolly deserved better," she recalled.

She left the stage, never finishing the song. Though she had her photo taken with Parton and fellow country music queens Reba McEntire and Shania Twain that night, Simpson can't bear to look at it.

"This picture that most people would hang in their house, you know, it's these mentors of mine that are, like, country goddesses ... and ... I can't even look at the picture. I can't look at my face because I know the pain that I was having. I didn't feel worthy of being in that photo," she shared.

The mom of three — Simpson and her former NFL star husband Eric Johnson, share daughters Maxwell, 7, and Birdie Mae, 10 months, and son Ace, 6 — said she wrote her book to let fans know good times can follow bad.

"I wanted to show people the obstacles that I had to get through and the tools that I have now to go back and face them," she shared. "I know what to do with it all now, and I'm proud of it."

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