Actress Emma Watson has hit back at critics accusing her of being anti-feminist while posing topless for her latest Vanity Fair shoot.
The 26-year-old Beauty and the Beast star featured on the April cover of the culture magazine, but a photograph inside caught the Internet’s attention; the shot featured Watson looking right at the camera while posing in a crocheted white top with nothing on underneath.
On social media, critics demanded to know how Watson — a self-styled feminist and a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador — could post for a photograph they claimed objectified her body.
“Emma Watson: Feminism, feminism . . . gender wage gap . . . why oh why am I not taken seriously . . . feminism . . . oh, and here are my t*ts!” British journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted in what was one of several similar negative responses to the star’s photo.
Other Twitter users called the actress a “hypocrite” and “not a real feminist.”
In an interview with Reuters, Watson said the being a feminist doesn’t mean that women can never pose topless.
“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with,” Watson told Reuters. “It’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it. It’s very confusing. I’m confused. Most people are confused.”
For her part, Watson said she was pleased with how the photoshoot came out.
“The shot itself, I was honestly slightly taken aback by it,” she said. “We had been doing so many crazy things on that shoot, but it had really felt incredibly sort of artistic. I had been so kind of like creatively involved and engaged with Tim and I was so thrilled with how interesting and beautiful the photographs were. But yeah, people have asked, and I’ve gone, ‘Is there a controversy about this?’”
Watson stars in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, due out in theaters this month.