Jessica Simpson's Biggest Bombshells in 'Open Book': What She Says About John Mayer, Drinking and Mom Jeans
Jessica Simpson is speaking out like never before.
In her new memoir, Open Book, which was released on Tuesday, the 39-year-old entertainer discusses her personal life in incredible detail. From suffering sexual abuse as a child to her high-profile relationships with John Mayer and Nick Lachey to her decades-long struggle with alcohol, Simpson is candid in her raw recollections.
Entertainment Tonight was the only entertainment news show to sit down with Simpson and discuss all the reveals in her book, including the details about her past relationships. Tune in to Tuesday's episode of Entertainment Tonight for the full interview.
Until then, keep reading for the nine biggest bombshells from Open Book.
She protected her sister, Ashlee, from sexual abuse as a child
When she was six years old, Simpson claims the daughter of a family friend began abusing her when they would share a bed on overnight visits. The second time this "extremely uncomfortable" experience allegedly occurred, her younger sister, Ashlee, was also in the bed.
"I lay between them, fiercely protecting my sister from this monster, I didn’t want her to feel as disgusting as I felt," she writes. "She continued to try to sleep next to my little sister, and I would just scooch Ashlee over and get between them whenever she did. I never let her near Ashlee, but I also never screamed or told her to stop."
Even when the alleged abuse escalated and began happening during the day, Simpson says she didn't speak up because she "didn't want to hurt her feelings."
After six years, though, Simpson told her parents during a car ride and her mom, Tina, wasn't surprised by her daughter's reveal.
"Neither turned to look at me. Dad kept his eye on the road and said nothing, his shoulders sunken. It didn’t surprise me that my mother knew. I already understood denial and how much it fueled the actions of families, especially Southern families," she writes. "I wouldn’t be angry about their silence until much later."
"We never stayed at my parents’ friends’ house again, but we also didn’t talk about what I had said," she adds.
Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake had a bet about kissing her
In 1993, Simpson auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club alongside the likes of Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling, the latter of whom she describes as her "first hard crush."
"He tried so hard to sound tough, a voice like Marlon Brando but with this squeaky-clean face," she writes of Gosling. "I was in love. Before anybody knew how hot Ryan Gosling was going to become, I had a vision."
Despite making it to the final round of auditions, she "choked" during her last performance and was not selected. She kept in touch with Timberlake, though, and they met up after her divorce from Nick Lachey in 2006.
"We were both single, and we got to talking about the old times, leaning more and more into each other until, suddenly, we shared a nostalgic kiss," she writes. "As soon as the kiss was over, he pulled away and got out his phone. 'I gotta call Gosling,' he said."
After Simpson expressed confusion at Timberlake's response, she says he replied, "We made a bet at the casting camp. Who was going to kiss you first. I win!"
"Well then tell Ryan you won big... 'Cause the odds were definitely in his favor," Simpson quipped in response.
She took diet pills for 20 years after being told to lose weight at age 17
After signing her first record deal at age 17, Simpson claims that record executive Tommy Mottola told her she needed to lose 10 to 15 pounds.
"I immediately went on an extremely sick diet, and started taking diet pills," she writes. "Which I would do for the next 20 years."
The focus on her weight only intensified from there; Simpson writes that she was told to show her stomach during a ballad at a showcase, "hike up" her shirts during a music video shoot, and assigned a trainer by her label.
Eventually, she began the Atkins diet "hardcore."
"Off the diet, I obsessed over how I looked 24/7; on the diet, I was also hyper focused on food," she writes. "It made me nervous. My anxiety had something to hold on to, and instead of examining my emotions, I could just block them out by focusing on carb counts and waist sizes."
By 2001, Simpson says she was down to 103 pounds, but "couldn't enjoy it because I was so freaking hungry."
"I envied people who could eat whatever they wanted, while I had to microwave slices of turkey with Velveeta cheese on top and call it a meal," she writes. "But when I ate anything, I yelled at myself, asking why I was getting in my own way and why I hadn’t gone to the gym."
Ahead of her 2002 wedding to Nick Lachey, Simpson writes that she "upped my dosage of diet pills and was eating even less."
Even when The Dukes of Hazzard came out in 2005, Simpson was not happy with her body.
"I was in the best shape of my life, and I didn’t appreciate it," she writes. "But also it just shows the absurdity of how we always find something to criticize about ourselves."
9/11 prompted her and Nick Lachey to get back together
While Simpson writes that she knew Lachey was the man she was going to marry immediately after meeting him, the pair did not have an easy road. Their first big test came in 2000, when Lachey was eager to get married, but Simpson -- and those around her, including her dad -- thought she was too young.
"It seemed like an impossible situation: If I didn’t marry him soon, I’d lose him. If I married him, I could lose me," she writes.
Both Lachey and Simpson were "concerned about our careers," which caused their own anxieties to "feed off each other." It was at that point, that Simpson decided they should take a break.
"[I wondered] if I should take the time to date other guys before committing to forever," she writes. "Also, I wanted to see who I was, without using another person’s love for me as a measurement of my value."
For months, the pair talked on and off, but after 9/11 happened, they realized the only thing they wanted was each other.
"I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose him. I knew in that instant I wanted to marry him," she writes. "It felt indecent that God had put this love in my life, and I had the audacity to take it for granted when so many people had just lost those they loved the most."
"When Nick and I got back together, it was simply understood that we would marry," she continues. "We kept it our secret, because my father was already angry that Nick was back in my life."
She says she had 'an emotional affair' with Johnny Knoxville
After tying the knot in 2002, Lachey and Simpson appeared on Newlyweds, a reality show following their lives. The show, Simpson writes, "caught our struggles," which included Simpson's accusations that Lachey had "a wandering eye" and him claiming that she was "the one causing the problems."
With the mindset that "divorce was not an option" for her, Simpson left to film The Dukes of Hazzard, where she met, and found a connection with, her co-star, Johnny Knoxville.
"We were both married, so this wasn’t going to get physical. But to me, an emotional affair was worse than a physical one… Johnny and I had that, which seemed far more of a betrayal to my marriage than sex," she writes. "He made me feel that spirit of adventure as he asked me about my life. Not just my present, but about who I wanted to be."
"He believed in me and made me feel like I could do anything. And the only person who had ever made me feel that way was my dad. Certainly not my husband. "Simpson continues. "We were open about the challenges of our marriages and why we felt we had to honor those vows by sticking with the marriage."
Simpson returned home during a break from filming and writes that both she and Lachey "could both feel it was ending." When she got back to the set, Simpson writes that she "became more brazen in flirting with Johnny."
Once filming wrapped, Simpson says she and Knoxville kept in touch through "flowery love letters."
"It was like Johnny and I were prison pen pals, two people who wanted so much to be with each other but were kept apart -- by bars, by our stars, by our respective spouses," she writes. "I would delete every email, convinced Nick would find out. I rewrote each text and email in my Mead journal, the sanctity of which my husband respected, even if neither of us were doing a good job of respecting the rest of our marriage."
After some more back-and-forth contact, Simpson says she eventually ceased contact with Knoxville, though she remained "grateful that he had expanded my worldview and made me appreciate so many things about culture."
She felt beautiful in the 'mom jeans'
In 2009, Simpson performed a set in a sleeveless black bodysuit top, high-waisted blue jeans, and a Fendi leopard-print belt, an outfit which, she writes, "started a decade-long international discussion about my body."
The outfit was widely mocked and criticized, which left Simpson feeling "awful." At the time, Simpson, who got divorced from Lachey in 2006, was dating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
"The worst part was this: my very first thought was not my pain at becoming a joke and everyone laughing at me. No, it was, 'Oh no, I feel so bad that Tony has to be with the fat girl,'" she writes. "He loved me for me, and he also thought the whole thing was ludicrous. But I was devastated and confused."
Much of the conversation around the outfit centered around how Simpson's body had appeared to change since she starred as Daisy Duke.
"I had created a gold-standard Jessica, the 'before' for every 'Is she fat or is she thin?' story for the rest of my career," she writes. "I had always been in on the joke, and that gave me power. Now that it was everybody else making it, I didn’t think it was funny. I was insulted for myself and for all women."
"The jeans were a size 25 waist, which is an American four," she continues. "The fact that I was that skinny and that I was deemed overweight still frightens me."
Despite trying to "remain body positive about everybody else," Simpson writes that "a dysmorphia set in" that made it so she "no longer trusted the mirror."
"My confidence was gone," she adds
Tony Romo broke up with her because of John Mayer
While Romo was supportive through the "mom jeans" debacle and the pair got past Dallas Cowboys fans calling Simpson a jinx, their relationship couldn't overcome one thing -- John Mayer.
According to Simpson, she was initially quick to tell Romo any time Mayer, whom she had dated after her divorce, got in touch with her. That changed in July 2009, when Mayer convinced the Simpson clan that he had changed and was ready to get serious. Around the same time, Simpson says she saw Mayer at her parents' house and that Romo found an email from the musician to his girlfriend.
"[Tony] accused me of seeing John behind his back. I hadn’t cheated on Tony at all, but I could not lie and say I hadn’t even seen him. 'Nothing happened,' I said," she writes. "Tony didn’t believe that for a second. And within that second, he broke up with me right there. Two years, gone with an email."
"I could trust that Tony would never tell the press that John Mayer caused the breakup. It would imply that he wasn’t enough for me," she continues. "Tony soon realized I was telling the truth. Of course I didn’t cheat on him. But our breakup had been so ugly that it shocked me into realizing it had been necessary."
Though the relationship with Romo came to an end, more drama was still to come with Mayer.
"[John] had said all these things, practically asking my parents for my hand in marriage while I was in a serious relationship. Swearing to me up and down that he was a changed man," she writes. "Now here I was, ready to pledge my love back, and to kiss him as the curtain came down. And it fell on my head… All this time, all those years, he was breaking up with me to torture himself enough to get good material."
"It felt inevitable to be in love with John, so I continued talking to him for months," Simpson continues. "But I knew now not to let him get close enough to shoot me down again."
Shortly thereafter, though, Mayer called Simpson "sexual napalm" in an interview with Playboy, a comment that was the final straw for her.
"The guy got on the school intercom and said I was crazy in bed. I didn’t accept his apology," she writes. "I deleted all his contact information from my phone. I was done with this man in a way I never thought was possible. When he reached out to me, I changed my number and changed my email."
She was immediately infatuated with Eric Johnson
Following her final split with Mayer, Simpson met Eric Johnson through friends in 2010 and was "instantly infatuated."
"We got deep real fast, talking about our own spiritual journeys. With other men, I was afraid to talk, but with Eric, there was no fear of judgment. This was completely new," she writes. "We kissed on those steps, and I led him up to my room."
From there, the pair embarked on a fairy-tale romance, which hit a peak when they traveled to Italy together.
"Our sex was always powerful, because we were both very present in our bodies, but that night it was spiritually explosive. The kind of love that makes miracles happen," she writes. "From then on, we were inseparable. I told him to just move in with me so we could start a family."
They did just that, getting engaged in 2010 -- "It was an immediate yes," Simpson writes of the moment he popped the question -- and welcoming their daughter, Maxwell, in 2012, and their son, Ace, in 2013. They tied the knot in 2014 and welcomed daughter Birdie in 2019.
Her doctors were afraid she'd die from a mix of alcohol, stimulants and Ambien
After her pregnancies, Simpson's body insecurities crept up again.
"I was so ashamed of my body at this point that I wouldn’t let Eric see me without a white T-shirt on," she writes. "I had sex with it on and even showered with it on. I couldn’t bear to look at myself."
That feeling -- which came during a time when she was taking stimulants, Ambien and drinking excessively -- led her to schedule a partial tummy tuck. Her doctor ultimately didn't want her to go through with it, though, because her liver levels were so high that she could die.
"I told Eric. We were in a sort of shared spiral, both of us in denial about how much we were drinking," she writes. "I’m sure we were wasted when we talked about it."
Despite her doctor's advice, Simpson had the surgery and went on to schedule a second, more advanced, tummy tuck when she wasn't happy with the results.
"The day of the surgery, Eric was puking his guts out because he was so nervous… The surgery took two hours longer than planned… It did not go well. I got an infection -- colitis -- and was vomiting so much I thought I was going to bust my sutures," she writes. "My mom and Eric were so worried. They had to rush me to Cedars, and I secretly stayed there for nine days. Doctors talked seriously about me needing a blood transfusion."
"It was so hard on Eric, who was convinced he should have talked me out of going through with the surgery," Simpson continues. "Eric loved me at any size or shape, even if I couldn’t."
Open Book is available now.
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