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While many celebrities have attempted to parlay their A-list status into big bucks at the cash register, few have achieved the level of success that Jessica Simpson has. The pop star has helped to build a fashion and accessories empire that now spans 30 product categories and generates an estimated $1 billion in annual retail sales. “I never dreamt that this would happen to me in a million years,” admits Simpson on her foray into business. She credits her brand’s staying power to her ‘every woman’ appeal. “I feel like I can relate to the heart of every woman, no matter what size, what age…It’s been a learning lesson for me,” describes the 33 year old mother of two.
Yet Jessica Simpson is no stranger to skeptics and setbacks. “I have learned so many lessons when it comes to business, but I feel like the most empowering lesson that I have learned is failure is okay sometimes. And in that we grow, and we learn from that, and there is success around the corner,” says Simpson. That philosophy has served her well in dealing with the intense media scrutiny she’s faced since having been catapulted into the public eye in her early 20’s. “If anything, I feel like criticism humbles me and it makes me want to fight harder and just grow my business that much more,” she says. “And most of the people that do say negative things about me, they’re buying my shoes!”
In person, Jessica is a rare mix of determination and vulnerability. When asked what advice she would have given her younger self, she responds, “That it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to feel upset because…there’s always a way to get back up and make it happen again.” In fact, she credits one iconic songstress, Dolly Parton, with giving her the courage to continuously pick herself up and keep moving forward. “I was performing at the Kennedy Center to honor Dolly Parton, and I stood on stage, and I just stood there. And all of a sudden, I forgot how to sing, I forgot all the lyrics…and I just had to walk off the stage,” recalls Simpson of the highly publicized gaffe.
Following the flubbed performance, Parton offered encouragement to the younger star. “She said, ‘Honey, don’t worry about it. I wrote the song and I still can’t even get the lyrics right!’…She [Parton] really just empowered me to get back on stage, and she gave me the confidence that I needed in that moment,” shared Simpson.
I sat down with Simpson at the recent 2014 Forbes Women’s Summit where she discussed her billion-dollar empire, dealing with critics and the most important aspects of motherhood.
So they didn’t air Jessica talking about music, nothing other than the fact she was working on building a recording studio at her house to be able to make music there which is amazing! Oh and she will have a signature fragrance as well! The promo photo is breathtakingly beautiful. Well done Jess :)
Jessica Simpson says “being pregnant for two years took a toll.”
She and fiancé Eric Johnson, a former NFL tight end, have two children, daughter Maxwell Drew Johnson, born May 1, 2012, and son Ace Knute Johnson, born June 30, 2013.
Her hefty weight gain during her first pregnancy was a hot topic in the tabloids. She says she was “constantly hungry” and had a “big appetite.”
Simpson, 33, says she didn’t pack on as many pounds with her second pregnancy. Still, she says, whenever she went to the doctor and stepped on the scales, “I would say, ‘Really, I could gain that much weight in one week?’ ”
Simpson is back to her pre-pregnancy weight before Ace but won’t say what it is.
“With Maxwell, I vegged out and laid around. I knew I didn’t have to watch what I was eating for the first time in my life. I kind of let loose, and I gained a lot,”
says the singer, actress, fashion designer and celebrity spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. Many remember her incredible figure in cutoff shorts and skimpy tops from her role as Daisy Duke in the 2005 movie Dukes of Hazzard.
Simpson says she lost more than 50 pounds on Weight Watchers after Maxwell was born. She’s 5-foot-3. Weight Watchers tells members that a healthy weight range for a person of her height is 113 to 141 pounds.
When she got pregnant for a second time, Simpson says she gained “what a normal pregnant woman would gain. I did put on a good amount with Ace,” but she won’t give the exact number.
The difference between the pregnancies was that she was already leading a “healthier lifestyle” during the second pregnancy, and she kept exercising, working with her personal trainer three times a week and going on “walks with Eric, my almost-husband. I tried to get 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I didn’t mind gaining weight.”
When the doctor gave her the OK after Ace was born, Simpson says, “I jumped back on Weight Watchers.”
She followed the company’s new Simple Start plan, a two-week program that doesn’t require people to count points. It provides a shopping list and menu of options for meals and snacks, as well as splurges such as a glass of wine or serving of ice cream.
The plan is based on studies that indicate that weight loss during the first month of dieting is very predictive of both short- and long-term weight-loss success, says Gary Foster, co-chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers. “We want to keep it simple and structured, because those two things drive success,” and if people experience success, they are more likely to stick with it, he says.
“I saw the results really quickly,” Simpson says, and then she went back to the PointsPlus program.
As far as preparing the family meals, Simpson says she has “somebody who comes in and helps out. I do want to make sure I stick with the right recipes, and obviously my schedule is a little jampacked.”
She describes herself as “an OK cook. I’m not one of the best. Eric is really good at chopping vegetables. I’m not good at chopping.”
She gradually increased her exercise and now is going full speed ahead on that.
One day recently, she walked 18,000 steps. “With both kids, I’m running up and down my stairs a million times. Kids can keep your metabolism going. Eric and I go on walks together. I try and walk about 4 miles a day consistently. It makes me feel better.”
Exercise helps her
“with all the hormones I have to deal with. Working out and being active overall makes me a happier person to be around. I let out so much more anxiety if I go out and walk and talk to Eric, who is basically my therapist on our walks.”
In addition to walking, Simpson’s physical activity includes doing somersaults in the backyard with Maxwell.
She is also working with personal trainer Harley Pasternak four days a week for 45 minutes. “It’s a lot of resistance training, lots of lunges and squats. There are bursts of cardio throughout the workout as well.”
Simpson is on a mission “to be the best version of myself and to feel great. I want to be a great mom and a great example to my kids.”
For years, there has been a lot of publicity about Simpson’s weight cycling. “People are going to talk about this no matter what. I might as well choose to live a healthy lifestyle.
“It does get old having people harping on how much you weigh or your body after pregnancy. I need to feel comfortable in my own skin. People are going to pick me apart no matter what I do. I’m always going to have critics out there who will make a story out of something.”
With two children a little over a year apart, Simpson says she and Eric “have our hands full. It’s so much fun. Every day we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s fun to watch them interact. They definitely keep our lives busy but full of smiles. We laugh a lot.
“I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have Eric with me and by my side, and he’s an unbelievable dad.”
The couple is in the middle of wedding plans.
“I’ve been pulling all kinds of sketches for dresses and colors. It’s a good goal for me. It’s good for me to feel the best I’ve ever felt when I walk down the aisle.”
About having more children, she says, “I can’t even think about being pregnant again right now.” But, she adds, “I would never say never.”
Opening up about how her public pregnancies and her fame affect her parenting, pop superstar Jessica Simpson revealed four tips she wants her children to know on a guest blog post for “Parent.”
She began simply, by writing, “My pregnancy with Maxwell, specifically because she is a girl, made me realize that I wouldn’t be able to protect her from everything I had been through as a woman.”
She also opened up about her documented pregnancies, saying, “my struggles with my weight and body image have played out in front of the world. As hard as that has been, the hardest part is to realize that with all the hurtful and harsh criticism from others, I have been the hardest on myself.”
“Raising Maxwell makes me realize that I don’t want her to see me beat myself up for things like food choices or numbers on a scale,” writes Simpson. “I don’t want her to learn anything like that from me.”
She continued, stating,
“I want her to know her value, rather than spending her energy fighting negative voices from within, I want to teach her to figure out what is truly right for her rather than worrying about what anyone else thinks.”
As for the four pieces of advice she presented to daughter Maxwell and son Ace, she wrote:
“Build a great support system. A strong family and wonderful friends keep me headed in the right direction every day!”
“Learn to accept compliments as graciously as you give them. Don’t dismiss them – soak up the positivity and give it back as often as you can!”
“Find a partner who really supports and listens to you in the good times and the bad.”
“Be original. The world will try to fit you into a mold, but carve your own path.”
Jessica Simpson had shed 70 pounds of baby weight after giving birth to daughter Maxwell on May 1, 2012. Imagine her surprise when five months later, the Weight Watchers spokeswoman learned she was pregnant with baby No. 2. She and fiancé Eric Johnson welcomed son Ace via planned C-Section on June 30, and since then, the Southern superstar has been working hard to get back in her famous Daisy Dukes.
“When I had Maxwell I gained a lot of weight. More than I thought I would,” Simpson tells Tumblr’s MomFeeds blog. “And when it came time to try to take it off, it felt overwhelming. Stepping on the scale and seeing that number was really scary. With a toddler on the run and an infant to look after, I knew I needed a plan that’s simple and fits into my life along with the support that’s so important to my success. I know Weight Watchers works so I got on the plan again.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Simpson is earning a reported $4 million to endorse the program. The 33-year-old mom of two has been sticking to her plan and even recruited friends to join her group.
“Most of the women in my group have been my friends for years. Not only are we very close, but we’re also all going through some of the same things in our lives,” the singer shares. “It makes it hard to not be accountable for what you’re doing. And we spend so much time together that we’re helping each other make better choices, whether it’s choosing the menu for a business lunch or deciding where to go out for dinner on the weekend.”
Having a strong support system is crucial, according to Simpson. “We celebrate each other’s successes, talk about challenges and how to tackle them,” she says.
Known for her killer curves, the former Fashion Star mentor says it hurts to know that people are so focused on her figure. Even so, she feels more comfortable in her skin than she has in years.
“I’m a lot more confident this time around. With Maxwell, I didn’t think about the weight I was gaining, and the first time I stepped on a scale and looked at the number—I mean, that wasn’t a number I had ever even considered—I was faced with a pretty serious truth,” Simpson says. “But since I had already done Weight Watchers, I didn’t put on as much weight with Ace and I just know a lot more now.”
Simpson says her children sometimes crash meetings, but Johnson usually keeps them occupied elsewhere in the house. “Maxwell usually gets some attention from everyone, and Ace is always an attraction because he is still a baby,” she shares. “But they’re pretty good about giving us our time, and Eric’s a very hands-on dad. He’s not afraid to go two-on-one.”
Johnson, 34, is helpful in a multitude of ways.
“The great thing about Eric is that when he played football, he was always conscious of his weight and either gaining or losing, so he knows what it’s like and he’s helpful,” Simpson raves. “Plus, he loves me and always makes me feel beautiful, so he’s awesome.”
Simpson doesn’t consider herself a “perfect” parent, but she does enjoy helping fellow first-time moms like BFF CaCee Cobb.
“She’ll call me and say, ‘He won’t stop crying! What should I do?’ I love that I’m considered an expert!” she tells MomFeeds. “But it’s great to have the perspective from the first one already. You know, you’ve just got to keep calm and roll with things. And it helps to have a good sense of humor. I try to make her laugh.”
Looking vibrant in a royal blue dress and heels, Jessica Simpson admits that yes, this pregnancy was indeed a surprise.
“We were definitely extremely shocked,” the Fashion Star mentor tells Ellen DeGeneres with a laugh Wednesday. “Apparently, protection just went out the window. I feel like I’m always pregnant. We’re very happy.”
But while Simpson, 32, is being more careful with her health this time around, expecting her second child with fiancé Eric Johnson has made her extra tired.
“It’s the complete opposite. With Maxwell [now 10 months], I felt amazing. I could do everything, eat everything,” she says. “I had a lot of energy. This time around, I’m exhausted. Eating Tums — that’s my snack of choice.”
Simpson is also being more judicious with nutrition after working hard to drop more than 60 lbs. after delivering Maxwell.
“I was doing Weight Watchers and I felt super healthy,” Simpson notes. “I’m not really craving as much, [plus] I know how hard it is to get off so I’m trying to make healthier, wiser decisions.”
Whatever her weight, Simpson says Johnson — a former NFL tight end — never made her feel unwanted, even at her heaviest.
“Apparently Eric still wanted me,” she jokes. “So I can gain as much weight and I will have a husband-to-be that loves me.”
Chids DeGeneres, pointing to Simpson’s bump: “Apparently he did.”
Feeding into rumors that the singer and fashion designer is expecting a son, the host had two onesies made up for the mom-to-be. One referenced a baby brother; the other a sister.
“You can’t have both,” DeGeneres teases. “You can only have one.”
As Simpson demurs, the host makes her own choice, handing her the brother outfit.
“Maybe I’ll take this one,” Simpson said with a laugh, hinting but confirming nothing. “If it’s a girl, she might call him ‘bro.’”
How gorgeous does Jessica look! Can’t take my eyes off of her =) Amazing!!
She has an adorable baby, a handsome fiance — and she’s on her way to having a brand-new body. So it’s no wonder that Jessica Simpson often has a smile on her face. “She’s just in the happiest place I’ve ever seen her in,” her best friend CaCee Cobb tells iVillage. “Even on her worst day, she’s still happy with her life.”
Cobb admits that the new mom to 4-month-old daughter Maxwell (with fiance Eric Johnson) has come a long way since they first became friends 13 years ago. And while the Fashion Star mentor (who’s also the new Weight Watchers spokesperson) has fully converted to “responsible” mom, Cobb can still remember a time when she thought of Jess as the “dirtiest girl” she’d ever met!
Read on to find out how Jessica is encouraging CaCee to lose weight, why her fiance Johnson is like “Superdad,” and why CaCee thought Jess was joking when she first told her they were engaged.
How did you and Jessica meet?
It was back in ’97, I guess. I worked in the A&R department [at Columbia Records], and I worked on all of Jessica’s records. We had a very different type of relationship at first. We would talk on the phone all the time — work-wise. When she started to go on tour they were looking for a road manager, and they offered me the job. I was like, “Sure, but is that gonna be weird? We don’t really know each other.” And the crazy thing is that the first day out on the road with her, something happened with our travel and it screwed up. I didn’t have a hotel room, so we had to sleep in the same room in the same bed. The first day we even traveled together!
That’s one way to get to know each other!
Yeah, we sat up all night. It was like a slumber party. We just hit it off immediately, and we’ve been literally best friends since ’99 I guess.
What do you think it is that makes Jessica such a good friend?
She’s one of those people that whenever you’re going through something she will totally take it on. As if she’s right there in it with you. I mean, it’s gotta suck on her end because she’s totally investing every bit of her time and energy into someone else’s problems. And she’s always there for me. I’ve showed up at her house at night saying, “I’m spending the night!” No matter what’s going on in her life, she always makes time.
She’s known publicly for being this goofy, fun girl who doesn’t take herself too seriously…
Oh, yeah! She’s a dork. But I’m a dork, too. And I think that’s probably the reason we are so close. She never takes herself too seriously, and I love that about her. Going through everything she’s been through and owning a billion-dollar empire…It’s just insane because she’s still the exact same person she was when I met her.
Are there any goofy moments you’ve had with her that stand out?
I always tease her because I’m very OCD and very organized and clean. [She used to come stay with me in Dallas] and she would just totally ransack the whole apartment. She used to wear contacts, and I remember watching her one time sitting in my bed and taking her contacts out — and she’s throwing them on my floor! I asked her, “Why do you throw your contacts on the floor? That’s so rude.” And she was like, “Oh no, they dissolve. Don’t worry about it!” And I will always remember thinking, “This girl is the dirtiest girl that I’ve ever met.”
Now Jessica is engaged to Eric. Do you remember the first time she told you about him?
I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember thinking, “Okay, you met this guy.” And I really didn’t think anything of it. And then the next thing I knew, it was her birthday and we were all going to Italy together. I was like, “Okay, well this might be pretty serious!” But I liked the fact that I didn’t know anything about him because in the past she’s had relationships with people who were in the public eye — and not to say that they’re not great guys, but Eric is just so amazing! It’s really great to see her with a guy who’s just really down to earth, very humble, very smart and literally adores her. I couldn’t imagine her having a baby with anyone else in this world. Honestly, he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
How did you react when she told you they were engaged?
Well, she called me, and she had me on Bluetooth, and I didn’t even realize it. She was like, “Okay, are you ready for this? I’m engaged!” I sat up and said, “Shut up! Are you serious?” I thought she was joking ’cause it happened really quick. But then she was like, “Yeah! We’re both here in the car!’ I was like, “Oh! Heeeey!” Ten minutes later I was geeked out of my mind driving my car over to her house to celebrate with them. It was amazing.
You’re the godmother to Jessica’s 4-month-old daughter Maxwell. What’s Jessica like as a mom?
It’s almost like she’s a different person. When she got pregnant I was like, “Oh God. This is going to be interesting!” She’s so great. I remember one time, while she was pregnant — one of our friends who has a kid was just saying, “You know it’s all about getting the baby on a schedule. That’s most important.” And I remember Jessica saying, “Well, Eric and I just kinda go with the flow. We’re not really gonna enforce schedules.” And now that she has Maxwell, I don’t think that we could be more on a schedule! Everything is scheduled. It’s fascinating to see Jessica organized and responsible.
So, she really has changed!
Now we’re not late for dinner reservations. We’re not late anywhere.
Has your friendship changed since she became a mom?
I’d like to say we’re closer. I’ve always looked at Jessica as a younger sister. When we met, she was 19 and I was 23, so I was going through way different things than what she was going through. Now the roles have totally changed. She talks to me about being a mom and being so happy and in love. It’s just different ’cause I was always the more…I don’t even know how to explain without it sounding weird.
It’s like she’s have more grown-up experiences?
Yes. And she’s experiencing them first. Which is weird when I used to experience them first.
You mentioned that you love Eric as a partner for Jessica. How is he as a dad?
Oh he’s amazing. He’s great. He’s Superdad! I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s totally raised the bar amongst all of our friends. I tell my fiance [actor Donald Faison], I’m like, “You’re gonna be like that with our kid, right? ‘Cause I’d be devastated if you weren’t!”
You’re doing Weight Watchers with Jessica. How are you encouraging each other?
Well, she encourages me. I wish I could say I was encouraging her. She’s pretty much the inspiration and the leader in the whole group. If you would have asked me that when we started, I would have not been thinking that. But she works hard. She watches everything she does. She is really trying to be the best mom that she can be, and she’s in such a happy place that you can’t even compete with her.
You’re both engaged. Are you helping each other with wedding plans?
Well, I wish that we could say that we were planning stuff. I’ve been engaged a little over a year, and I don’t even have a date yet. It’s really been so much about Maxwell that we’re not even missing anything about planning a wedding. We just sit and play with the baby all the time. There’s no rush.
How have you seen Jessica transform over the years?
I think the biggest change that I’ve seen — especially now since the baby’s here and she’s been with Eric — is that she has just found that confidence and happiness with herself. She’s just in the happiest place I’ve ever seen her in. Even on her worst day, she’s still happy with her life. If things get hard or rough, she’s just like, “Well, I’ve got Maxwell and I’ve got Eric. It’s never gonna be that bad.”
I love the interview so much, it tells a lot about Jessica and Cacee’s friendship. They’re both such amazing women, I can’t praise them enough! :)