The two-day event drew such high-profile speakers as Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and Laura Bush, to name a few, but it was the Gayle King-hosted and Dove-sponsored panel on building self-esteem and leadership in young women that hit especially close to home for many attendees.
Simpson, who looked chic in all black with her blonde locks pulled into a lengthy braid, spoke along with retired WNBA player Lisa Leslie, author Katherine Schwarzenegger and Jess Weiner, the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, about her own body image issues and personal challenges.
"I grew up in that fishbowl of always being judged and watched and people wanted to know what my next step was going to be. I really do believe that was God preparing me for the life I'm living now," said Simpson.
King addressed the media scrutiny Simpson infamously endured when she performed onstage in what can best be described as high-waisted mom jeans. When asked, "You've seen those pictures, right?," the blonde starlet made light of the situation by responding with a laugh, "Are you kidding? Every day of my life!"
Getting serious about the issue, Simpson says, "You definitely get to that point where you feel like you're never good enough. I personally wanted to travel the world after all of that happened to me and all the media scrutiny, which hasn't stopped by the way. It keeps going and going. For some reason people like to talk about my weight, but at this point in my life I really appreciate what I have, If I want to eat a doughnut I eat a doughnut. It's hard to not listen to what others are saying about you and it's almost impossible for women to not listen to those things."
The hot topic of bullying also came up during the hour long discussion and Simpson, who admits that she was both Homecoming Queen and a cheerleader, even had problems with her hometown mean girls.
"I had girls egging my home, writing curse words on the sidewalk in paint – just saying really nasty things about me," she remembers. "I quit cheerleading because I didn't know what I was cheering for anymore!"
Simpson also notes that she hasn't lost the mean girls yet.
"There are a lot of women editors out there, there are a lot of women that are writing the stories about me knowing that it will hurt me when they put it out," she says. "You can't write a story about somebody and not know how it's going to affect them. I feel like it's okay to not be left alone. The moment they leave me alone is when they stop caring or when I stop standing up for myself. I feel like whatever they're going to keep focusing on is going to try to knock me down as who I am as a woman. It's more of a choice to stand right back up and be right in their face and say, 'No, I'm better than what you're saying and I actually am beautiful because I believe in myself and everything that God has given me.' It's a daily struggle but it's always a place that you can get to."
Simpson dared to go au naturale on the cover of Marie Claire last spring, sans makeup and retouching. Check out the results here.
And click here to see what Michelle Obama had to say about bullying and taking criticism.