The Problem with Being the Girl Next Door
Jessica Simpson has just come off her major Weight Watchers push – it’s still too early to tell whether it was a successful endorsement for either brand, but that’s just one deal. Simpson is a lifestyle juggernaut. And her entire empire is predicated on one idea: Jessica’s fans can have exactly what she has – clothing, shoes, perfume, jeans, sunglasses, and even her weave (remember Hairdo?).
Part of her charm is that she is not an elitist – you’re more likely to see her photographed at a chili cookout (in high-waisted jeans) than a farmers market. And she’s not stuck-up; she’s your pretty, bubbly girlfriend who eats cheeseburgers and pronounces supposedly “supposebly.” Simpson’s built her million (billion?) dollar career on being relatable.
Yesterday, Star Magazine reported a shocking-not-at-all-shocking story about Eric Johnson cheating on her, alleging that he was double dipping between Jess and his ex-wife. Click here for more details. Not quite a scandal, and without any attention it probably would have died quickly. (Lainey: it’s STAR. No one pays attention to most of their sh-t anyway.) The only reason I noticed it was because a denial was issued to Gossip Cop and she’s “taking legal action.” Whenever a celeb says they are taking legal action, I perk up because, as Lainey has pointed out, they rarely do (at least not in North America). (Lainey: remember when Ashton Kutcher threatened? And Chris Martin? All they do is release the statement that they’re intending to sue. Releasing a statement announcing intent to sue is pretty much a guarantee that they won’t actually be suing.)
Jessica Simpson has been a tabloid fixture since her reality show, so why sue over this one stale story? Why did this warrant her attention? Why does this lame cheating allegation hurt her? Because it hurts her brand.
If Jessica can get cheated on, so can all the women who dress, smell, and eat like Jessica. Over the last few months, she’s loudly proclaimed that her priorities are motherhood and pleasing her man. It doesn’t bode well for her then to be perceived as the girl next door who’s getting betrayed. I have no idea if the cheating rumour is true, but I do know that by floating the legal angle, Jessica is giving this story legs it wouldn’t have had otherwise. (The only mildly interesting thing about Star’s claim is that the mag alleged he cheated on Jessica with his ex-wife but…shouldn’t that be vice versa if he was still married?)
Positioning herself as the girl who has it all (and you can, too!) works both ways: when she loses something – or someone –it hits close to home for her fanbase; if she’s being cheated on, women won’t want to dress or smell or eat like Jessica anymore, because if she can’t keep a man, what’s the point, right? That’s what all the effort amounts to anyway -- it’s always in service of getting a man and keeping a man. She’s offered up all the secrets to her dream life (wear heels, open your mouth, put on a push-up bra) and there’s a lot riding on people buying into it. Having a fiancé who may have cheated isn’t acceptable. But having a fiancé who doesn’t work is totally fine.