Reese Witherspoon is recalling the time critics got the best of her, saying an especially harmful caricature of herself that was published in a magazine made her “burst into tears.”
Appearing on Kristen Bell and Monica Padman‘s We Are Supported By podcast, the Legally Blonde star recalled when TIME magazine seemingly pushed the narrative of “women staying in their lane” in a 2015 story.
The story focused on Witherspoon as well as fellow actresses and entrepreneurs Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and Blake Lively — calling them “domestic divas” and Photoshopping aprons and cleaning supplies in their hands.
“I had started a clothing business. Gwyneth was really growing Goop. Blake Lively had a business, Jessica Alba had a business and they did a caricature cartoon of all of us,” she recalled. “We were in ballgowns and they stuck our heads on, and Jessica was holding an iron and I was holding a vacuum cleaner. The whole thing was so offensive that I burst into tears.”
Witherspoon, 45, said TIME has since apologized for the faux pas, but she marveled over the fact that it happened so recently.
“I’m not even talking about 10 years ago. I’m talking about 2015, when we decided, okay, we’re going to be entrepreneurial, take a swing, invest our own money, our own time, our own reputation and try to do something that George Clooney has done, Robert De Niro has done and getting lampooned for it,” the Oscar winner remarked. “That message to little girls is, ‘If you’ve had success in one area, you can’t have success in another."”
Withersppon says she hopes that women and little girls alike never heed that message, and instead take the risks to start their own businesses and pursue leadership positions.
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