"I've worked my whole life to own my flaws and accept the things I cannot change, but Maxwell just owns herself," the star tells HelloGiggles.

Claire Harmeyer
September 03, 2020
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Amy Sussman, Getty Images

Jessica Simpson might have seemed like an uber-confident pop star when she rose to fame at the age of 16, but now, at 40, the actress, author, and entrepreneur is candid about her insecurities. In fact, Simpson wants to show off her flaws, because, as she tells HelloGiggles over the phone in August, "It’s important to never come across as perfect." But despite having learned to embrace her imperfections over the years, when Simpson still needs the occasional confidence boost, she turns to one person for inspiration: her 8-year-old daughter, Maxwell.

"I never have to teach my oldest daughter confidence—I learn it from her," Simpson reveals. "I’ve worked my whole life to really own my flaws and accept things that I cannot change, but Maxwell just owns herself. She's very determined and confident, and she wants to make other people confident, which is adorable."

One of those self-proclaimed "flaws" Simpson has come to terms with over time? Her eczema flare-ups. The star struggled with symptoms of the skin condition as a teen when she was on her high school's cheerleading team in Texas. "After games, we’d do a group hug, and people were feeling my arms like, ‘What’s on your arm? Did you get bit?’ and it made me extremely insecure," she recalls. "I would put a sweatshirt on after every game. I wouldn’t wear short sleeves for a while, and it’s hot in Texas."

Simpson's mom helped her find an over-the-counter medication to treat her eczema, and it wasn't until many years later, when she had her youngest daughter, Byrdie, in March 2019 (she also has Maxwell and a 7-year-old son, Ace, with husband Eric Johnson) that she experienced another severe flare-up.

“I had a newborn, so I wasn’t really focusing on myself,” Simpson explains. “But when my husband was taking pictures to send out on a mass text to our friends and family, I looked at it before he sent it out, and I was mortified. I was like ‘What in the world? How did I not know that this was all over my arm as I’m cradling my baby?’”

Although, "it's not like I was going to be in a bikini any time soon," she adds, the flare-up still sent a familiar wave of insecurity through her. So, Simpson called her doctor, who prescribed her with Eucrisa—and she says her skin cleared up within two weeks as a result. Since then, she's teamed up with pharmaceutical company Pfizer to spread the word on Eucrisa for other people looking for ways to treat their eczema. Aside from helping her regain confidence in her appearance, Simpson also appreciates the fact that the ointment is fragrance- and steroid-free. "I love that I can hold my baby without worrying about her having a reaction to [the medication]," she says.

As a mom of three and founder of a billion-dollar fashion brand, Simpson is no stranger to balancing plenty of personal and professional priorities. In order to juggle all of these moving parts, Simpson reveals that she journals first thing every morning to "feel more grounded."

In February of this year, Simpson literally shared her journals with the world through her memoir Open Book. The bestseller details her journey through stardom, covering high-profile relationships, addiction, sexual abuse, motherhood, and more. One of the biggest turning points in the book—and therefore, in Simpson's life—is when she discusses realizing she needed to give up alcohol in 2017, when she was too "zoned out" to dress her kids for a Halloween party. With that revelation came the "really quick decision" to start therapy, she recalls now.

"I laid it all out there. Everything I’d ever gone through—every fear, every self doubt—I just poured it out," Simpson reflects on her first session. "My therapist was like, ‘I literally have never had anybody say all of those traumatic things in three hours. I think you’ll do real well in therapy, because you’ve already confronted so much.’”

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Although she hasn't yet dabbled in Zoom therapy like she says her friends have during quarantine, Simpson notes that she's currently practicing good habits on her own, since isolation presents new challenges. "I have to remind myself to be patient much more often. That’s a daily journal thing," she says with a laugh.

Along with using this extra time to work on herself in various ways ("I'm a sucker for all that skincare stuff," she says), Simpson says she's happily soaking up family time in her California home. This has included lots of butterfly face masks for Maxwell, red light therapy for Simpson ("to give my boobs a little lift"), and full-family laughter sparked by Byrdie's "contagious cackling and giggling mode."

"I really appreciate the time we’re spending together because I feel like the older kids would have missed out on so much of Byrdie growing up," Simpson says. "Her first word was Ace, my son's name. They're besties."

As for parents Simpson and Johnson, the couple has a standing date night every Thursday, when either pair of grandparents takes the kids off their plate for a night of "alone time". And aside from the unexpected struggle of teaching math lessons to her kids, Simpson calls the "forced family time" that has come along with quarantine "refreshing".

"We’re just enjoying being together, and if we’re not, we just take breaks from each other," she says, laughing. "Eric and I will tap in and tap out."

While quarantine has left many people feeling creatively stifled, Simpson says she feels grateful to have a creative outlet with The Jessica Simpson Collection, which she calls "a gift". Since its origin as a shoe collaboration with Vince Camuto in 2006, the line has grown into the top-selling celebrity fashion empire, now offering accessories and clothing, too. Simpson says that time in lockdown has actually made her more creative than normal, and she views working with her team of seven women over video chat as a surprisingly fun form of collaboration. "We all wish we could be together laughing, but we might laugh harder on Zoom, to be honest," Simpson explains. "We all bounce ideas off of each other. I’ve gotten to focus on creativity that I didn’t even know existed, and it’s very empowering."

The Jessica Simpson Collection is nearing its 15-year-anniversary, and Simpson is proud of how the line has embraced inclusivity over the years.

There are countless ways to channel confidence: through fashion, through therapy, or through watching others lead by example. Simpson may still be on that journey herself, but she's making sure to help other women find their stride along the way, too.