Jessica Simpson: Curvy, Courageous, or Both?

Some say Jessica Simpson could inspire others, if she doesn't race to the gym.

January 29, 2009, 4:39 PM

Jan. 30, 2009 — -- It's been a bad week for high-waist jeans, leopard print belts and one Jessica Simpson.

After Simpson performed at a Florida country radio station's chilli cook-off Sunday clad in the aforementioned outfit and coming off a bit more curvy than usual, critics pulled out their claws to slam the once svelte singer-actress for her new, larger figure.

"Clearly since we saw her last, she slayed that dragon named dignity and just spooned frosting into her mouth full-time," wrote the blog "What Would Tyler Durden Do?" "Honest to God, her appearance couldn't have been any more shocking unless she had grown glow-in-the-dark tentacles."

Simpson's reps declined's requests for comment. Thursday evening, at a Virginia concert, Simpson shot back at her critics by strutting on stage in skin-tight leather pants and telling fans not to "focus on so many things that are completely pointless."

"Thank you for your support," she added at the end of her set. "Stay positive, and pray out loud!"

Women in Hollywood are also stepping up to the star's defense.

"It's just ridiculous -- another woman being body-bashed for the quote-unquote infraction of looking normal," plus-size supermodel Emme told "It's just very mean-spirited. Even if she does have a toosh, God bless her, she has more to hold on to."

Simpson's younger sister, Ashlee, rebuked "body-bashers" on her blog Tuesday, writing, "I find it completely embarrassing and belittling to all women to read about a woman's weight or figure as a headline."

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian countered the masses, praising the 28-year-old Simpson's shape.

"Call me crazy, but when I saw the picture, I was like, 'Oh my God, Jessica looks hot!,'" Kardashian told "I actually love the outfit. I think she looks amazing. I love high-waisted jeans, I loved that belt, and her hair looked fabulous."

Back in 2005, when she starred in "The Dukes of Hazzard," Simpson boasted a figure more taut and toned than almost any other in Hollywood.

At the premiere of the movie, Simpson told reporters that to fit into her signature Daisy Duke denim short-shorts, "I had to work out six days a week, two and a half hours a day. I was on a South Beach diet. I cut sugar out."

Emme said it's impossible for any woman to keep up that routine long-term.

"If you really think about how hard it is for her to keep the weight she had before, it's unattainable," she said. "You would have to live in the gym."

What's Behind Simpson's Weight Gain?

It's not news that Hollywood has long perpetuated an unrealistic standard of beauty and thinness. If Simpson can withstand the criticism and stay in the shape that's right for her, she can serve as the antidote to so many stars who hit the treadmill at full blast at the first suggestion that they've gained a few pounds.

But Emme fears Simpson may head down the same path as Jennifer Love Hewitt. In 2007, after bloggers railed on paparazzi shots of Hewitt's fleshy frame in a skimpy swimsuit, the actress posted a call to arms on her Web site: ""To all girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist, put on a bikini -- put it on and stay strong."

Little more than six months later, Hewitt graced the cover of Us Weekly magazine, preening next to the headline "Jennifer Love Hewitt Exclusive: 18 lbs in Ten Weeks!," effectively telling all the "girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist" to find a new, more rotund role model.

"Let's just hope that her self-esteem is as intact as possible," Emme said about Simpson. "Maybe she is going through a hard time, maybe she isn't going to the gym as often as she used to. But let's hope that in six months time, we don't see her as a stick-thin rail. I will be really disappointed if she perpetuates this cycle once again."

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