NEW YORK • Natalie Portman has denied she is out to shame Jessica Simpson.
The Oscar-winning actress had told USA Today she was "confused" as a teenager when she saw Simpson on a magazine cover saying "I'm a virgin" while clad in a bikini.
Responding in a tweet, an upset Simpson, 38, accused Portman, 37, of shaming other women for their choices.
But Portman told E! Online that "I was really talking about mixed media messages out there for young women and completely apologise for any hurt it may have caused because that was definitely not my intention".
"What I said was I was confused by mixed messages when I was a young girl growing up, and there are a lot of messages for how women should be, and women should be allowed to do whatever they want."
But she admitted: "It is a mistake to say anyone's name. I could have made my message without naming."
In her tweet on Wednesday, Simpson, a singer-actress who now runs a thriving fashion business, wrote: "I was disappointed this morning when I read that I 'confused' you by wearing a bikini in a published photo taken of me when I was still a virgin in 1999.
"As public figures, we both know our image is not totally in our control at all times, and that the industry we work in often tries to define us and box us in.
"However, I was taught to be myself and honour the different ways all women express themselves, which is why I believed then - and I believe now - that being sexy in a bikini and being proud of my body are not synonymous with having sex."
Simpson added: "I have made it my practice to not shame other women for their choices. In this era of Time's Up and all the great work you have done for women, I encourage you to do the same."