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An emotional affair and rock bottom: Everything we learnt from Jessica Simpson's tell-all book.

Warning: This post features details of child sexual abuse and disordered eating that could be triggering for some readers. 

Jessica Simpson has released a memoir called Open Book, and well, that’s certainly a fitting title.

The book reflects on the 39-year-old’s career as well as some painful memories, including the sexual abuse she suffered as a child and her problem drinking.

It also holds nothing back when it comes to Simpson’s past relationships, including her marriage to Nick Lachey, on/off relationship with John Mayer and an emotional affair she had with Jackass star Johnny Knoxville.

Amid the release of her memoir, Simpson told Stellar Magazine that she changed her number to avoid her exes contacting her.

“I have completely cut off all connection with everyone,” she said.

“I changed my phone number and email when I met my husband Eric [Johnson]. Nobody has been able to get a hold of me and if anybody tries they will not be able to get to me.”

In 2017, Jessica Simpson made a very awkward appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Post continues below video.

Video via Warner Bros

Here are the most surprising revelations from Jessica Simpson’s memoir, Open Book. 

Jessica was sexually abused as a child.

In her memoir, Simpson recalled how at age 12, while in the car with her parents, she told them about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of a family friend’s daughter.

She was sharing a bed with the daughter, who began by tickling her back, then evolved “into things that were extremely uncomfortable”.

She was frozen with fear and worried that she was to blame.

“I wanted to tell my parents,” she wrote in her memoir. “I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong.”

Six years later, as a 12-year-old, Simpson told her parents about the abuse as they were on a car trip.

Her mother slapped her father’s arm and yelled at him: “I told you something was happening,” Simpson recalled.

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“Dad kept his eye on the road and said nothing.

“We never stayed at my parents’ friends house again but we also didn’t talk about what I had said.”

She also found out her abuser was being abused by an older boy. Six years ago, she confronted her abuser to say “I need you to know that I know what was going on… And I’m sorry for your abuse”.

The resulting emotional trauma, along with other stresses, led Simpson to self-medicate with alcohol and pills. A doctor warned her she was putting her life in danger.

“I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills,” she wrote.

Telling her parents about what was happening took place around the same time the extent of Simpson’s vocal talent was recognised, and she auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club. It was 1992, and she sang Amazing Grace and danced to Ice Ice Baby.

She progressed through rounds and rounds of cuts, until she found herself in a Florida studio with a dozen other finalists, including those with the last names Timberlake, Spears and Aguilera.

After watching a young Christina Aguilera’s performance (“She sounded like Mariah Carey,” Simpson recalled to Vanity Fair), Simpson lost her nerve. She went out for her performance and drew a blank. Previously told she was a shoo-in, Simpson did not make the cut.

“When I got the letter that said I didn’t make it, I just remember that I was giving up and I thought that I was going to die,” she said in 2009.

She may not have landed a role on the show that launched the careers of those who would later be her peers in the music industry, but there was another, less smooth, path awaiting her.

Jessica began taking diet pills at 17.

Only a few weeks after her Mickey Mouse disappointment, Jessica was discovered by the head of a Christian music label after a church performance.

A few years later, before her gospel record was released, the label went bust. Her grandmother bankrolled a test press of the album, which was then sent to a number of labels and producers and ultimately caught the attention of Tommy Mottola, the then-husband of Mariah Carey and head of Columbia Records in 1997.

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Simpson in 1999. Image: Getty.
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She began working on her debut album, with Mottola to market her as the "anti-sex appeal" contrast to Britney Spears and Aguilera.

In her memoir, Simpson shares that during this time Mottola told her: “You gotta lose 15 pounds".

"That’s what it will take to be Jessica Simpson," he said.

As a result, Simpson began taking diet pills at the age of 17.

“I immediately went on an extremely strict diet, and started taking diet pills, which I would do for the next 20 years,” she wrote.

As her music career took off, Simpson felt more pressure to maintain a particular body image.

“I started to hear voices when I was alone at night, waiting for the sleeping pill to kick in…'Do more sit-ups, fat ass.'"

She began applying eyeshadow to her stomach, to create an illusion of abs.

Looking back, Simpson told People, “We all see our flaws, and mine were just there for the world to rip apart. They weren’t even flaws! They were made into flaws that I didn’t even know I had."

Jessica's relationship with Nick Lachey.

While at a Christmas party in 1998, an 18-year-old Simpson met 24-year-old boy band frontman, Nick Lachey.

After the party, Lachey told his mother, "I've met the woman I'm going to marry."

In late 1999, Simpson's debut album Sweet Kisses was released. It came after the debuts of Spears and Aguilera and, in the eyes of the media, she was in their shadow.

"My album was different [from Spears' ...Baby One More Time and Aguilera's self-titled release], she told Vanity Fair.

"I released a ballad first. I wasn’t dancing and doing that whole thing. I wanted to set myself apart. But I was always third runner-up."

jessica simpson nick lachey
Image: Getty.
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Simpson's second album was released in June 2001. She broke up with Lachey during recording and embraced a more 'radio-friendly' sound, also learning choreography and adding backup dancers for the album's tour. But following the September 11 attack in New York City, Simpson cancelled her shows.

The attack led to a reconcile with Lachey: "I knew that I never, ever wanted to be away from Nick for the rest of my life," she told People at the time.

They married in February 2002, as Simpson was working on her third album.

Six months after their wedding, cameras rolled into the couple's home in Calabasas, California, and on August 19, 2003, both Simpson's third album In This Skin and her and Lachey's reality TV show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica were released.

The latter became a cultural hit, making the couple household names. Seventeen years on, the 'chicken or tuna' moment from the show's first episode is still, well, iconic.

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Image: Giphy.
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Speaking to Stellar, Simpson shared that she doesn't regret her infamous 'chicken or tuna' line.

"Nothing that I've said out loud I regret; it's who I am and the way I see it," she said.

"People can say whatever the heck they want to say about me. I really don't care because they're probably walking on my name already. My logo is likely to be on the bottom of their shoes."

The show ran for three seasons, ending in 2005 - the same year as their marriage.

Jessica's "emotional affair" with Johnny Knoxville.

At the time of filming Dukes of Hazzard, Simpson was still married to Lachey but she has written about an "emotional affair" with co-star Johnny Knoxville.

After a hug during their first day on set, Simpson said she "felt a force" drawing the two together. Though it never got physical - and both were married - Simpson shared details about what happened with "the boy from Tennessee", as she coded his name in her diary.

jessica simpson johnny knoxville
Image: Getty.

"First off, we were both married, so this wasn't going to get physical.

"But to me, an emotional affair was worse than a physical one. It's funny, I know, because I had placed such an emphasis on sex by not having it before marriage. After I actually had sex, I understood that the emotional part was what mattered. And Johnny and I had that, which seemed far more of a betrayal to my marriage than sex."

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Despite this, Simpson was so devastated following her divorce she thought she would never marry again, she told Glamour in 2009.

"It was hard to imagine I would ever walk down the aisle again. It was like a death in the family: You go through the mourning stage, then the rebellion, and then all of a sudden you have to find life by yourself. Once you do that, you feel complete - and that's the only time you can truly fall in love again, and give yourself over completely to another person," she said.

Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling had a bet about Jessica.

Simpson wrote about how she turned down a role in The Notebook, alongside Ryan Gosling, because producers wouldn't budge on taking out the sex scene.

She didn't get the job, but in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Simpson recalled how following her divorce she reconnected with another The Mickey Mouse Club alum, Justin Timberlake.

They kissed, and then Timberlake immediately whipped out his phone and sent a text.

"Apparently him and Ryan Gosling had a bet on who would kiss me first when they were 12-years-old," she explained. "And so, he texted Ryan and said he won the bet. And I was like, ‘Oh, okay. Um… So we don't kiss again. That's done.'"

Jessica's relationship with John Mayer.

Following her divorce from Lachey, Simpson dated John Mayer on and off for a year. In 2010, he described her to as "sexual napalm" to Playboy.

"Yeah, that girl is like crack cocaine to me. Sexually it was crazy," he said. "That's all I'll say. It was like napalm, sexual napalm."

jessica simpson john mayer
Simpson dated John Mayer in 2007. Image: Getty.
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In her memoir, Simpson reflected on the "shocking" quote.

"He thought that was what I wanted to be called. I was floored and embarrassed that my grandmother was actually gonna read that."

She wrote that Mayer told her "again and again" throughout their relationship that he was "obsessed" with her, "sexually and emotionally".

Mayer comes across as particularly manipulative in the book, as she writes how they would break up, and Mayer would re-enter her life just as she was beginning to move on. Again, and again.

From 2007-2009, she dated Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who broke up with her the night before her 29th birthday party after discovering an email from Mayer on her phone.

Simpson said Mayer had gone through her family, convincing them that they should get back together and professing his love to her at her parents' house.

Simpson wrote she never cheated on Romo, but did not tell him about seeing Mayer.

The night before her birthday, Romo saw an email and confronted her. She told him nothing had happened between them, but Romo did not believe her and broke off their relationship.

She began dating Eric Johnson, a retired NFL player, in mid-2010.

 

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In May 2012, the couple welcomed their first daughter, Maxwell Drew Johnson, and just over a year later in June 2013 came their son Ace Knute Johnson.

In June 2013, Simpson and Johnson married. In March 2019, she gave birth to their third child, a daughter named Birdie Mae Johnson.

Jessica addressed her controversial father, Joe.

Simpson's father, and former manager, Joe Simpson has been a controversial figure throughout her career.

In Open Book, she recalled his negativity towards her relationship and later her marriage to Lachey.

"He was convinced that Nick didn't understand commitment, which I didn't think was fair. 'Marriage is about hanging in there,' he said. I know he accused Nick of making me dependent on him for everything, which is the pot calling up the kettle to have a long talk about being black."

She recalled how at her rehearsal dinner, he acted as if the wedding was a "execution day".

"There's just no nice way to put it. He continually told me I was making a mistake and told Nick to his face that I was too young to get married... He moped and kept shaking his head, right in front of Nick's family.

"'Are you sure you want to do this?' he asked. I didn't answer, and he continued. 'I'm right here. We can-' 'Dad, please.' “You don't have to.'"

She wrote that after she told him she was divorcing Nick, he told her: "I wish I had the courage that you have to do that with your mum."

Simpson's parents divorced in 2012, and she recalled how her father decided to tell her at the worst possible moment.

jessica simpson memoir
Simpson, her husband Eric Johnson and three children. Image: Getty.
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While in hospital during her first pregnancy, Joe told his daughter she gave him "confidence" to file for divorce.

"My father's timing added a layer of terrible sadness to what had been a joyous time. For a long time, I harboured a lot of resentment about the way he told me the family I knew was over.

"In August, my mother discovered that my father had betrayed their marriage, just as she and I thought things were turning around for them. She had just told me what a nice time they had together on their anniversary, and she thought maybe they had turned a corner. I thought so, too. When she confronted him, my dad began calling me, and I would not pick up."

In 2016, Joe was diagnosed with prostate cancer and his recovery "forced a needed reconnection" between the two.

Despite their turbulent relationship, Simpson wrote that she wouldn't change their relationship for anything, and that he was "the best father I could ever have had".

Jessica apologised to Ellen.

When Simpson was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017, fans instantly speculated whether she was drunk.

Appearing on the talk show to chat about her fashion line and her new music, Simpson’s conversation with Ellen DeGeneres soon veered off track.

jessica simpson ellen
Image: YouTube.

Although the interview started with talk of pregnancy, as Simpson had previously appeared on the show while pregnant, the mother-of-three soon began talking about her daughter’s birthday party, which involved a number of children’s entertainers dressed as mermaids.

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“Silicone tails,” she announced, randomly. “They had… manhandlers. It’s not called manhandlers. No… they had to be carried if they had to pee… cause they can’t pee on my children in the pool. They pick them up, and carry them… it’s a business.”

Later on in the interview, Simpson appeared to have trouble remembering how long she had been married to her husband, Eric Johnson.

"I admit I drank beforehand and was also on steroids for a chest infection that made me hoarse," Simpson wrote.

"I want to say it here to Ellen and the viewers: I'm truly sorry."

Jessica hit rock bottom after a Halloween party in 2017.

Five years ago, Simpson was offered an opportunity to write a motivational book, but she didn't feel comfortable writing something about living your best life when she was struggling behind-the-scenes, she told People.

Simpson hit rock bottom after a Halloween party at her home in 2017, after which she decided she needed help.

In her memoir, Simpson recounts that on the morning of Halloween, her and Johnson were on their way to a school assembly for their daughter, Maxwell.

“It was 7:30 in the morning and I’d already had a drink,” she wrote. 

After the assembly, Simpson and her husband went home to prepare for the Halloween party they were hosting at their house.

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Jessica Simpson and husband Eric Johnson in 2017. Image: Getty.

When Johnson asked her if she wanted to get the kids ready, Simpson realised she wasn't in the right state of mind to help.

“I was terrified of letting them see me in that shape,” she wrote. “I am ashamed to say that I don’t know who got them into their costumes that night.”

With the support of her family, friends and a team of doctors, Simpson has twice-weekly therapy and has remained sober since that day.

"When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life," Simpson told People. "I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear."

"Honesty is hard but it’s the most rewarding thing we have. And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful."

Simpson's memoir and audiobook Open Book is available now.

This post was originally published on January 25, 2020, and updated on February 16, 2020.

If this post brings up any issues for you, you can contact Bravehearts (an organisation providing support to victims of child abuse) here. 

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can get advice from the Child Abuse Protection Hotline by calling 1800 688 009, or visiting their website. You can also call the 24- hour Child Abuse Report Line (131 478). 

Feature Image: Getty and Instagram/@jessicasimpson.

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