For Every Time Jenny McCarthy Has Been Controversial, This Moment Stands Above The Rest

In Hollywood, there's a time-honored tradition of leveraging your looks and sex appeal to get ahead. Back in 1984, Courteney Cox vaunted onto center stage (literally) when she appeared in Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" music video. Stars like Emily Ratajkowski are still following in her footsteps today. Ratajkowski went from an anonymous model to a recognizable pop-culture figure practically overnight after she appeared topless in Robin Thicke's controversial "Blurred Lines" video. Since then, she's parlayed her successful modeling career into clothing lines and A-list acting roles.

As of 2021, Kim Kardashian is the reigning queen of all things reality, but she first became famous after her sex tape with then-boyfriend Ray J went viral. And as she told Kourtney Kardashian on an episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (via People), "[I did it] because I was horny and I felt like it." Well, it certainly paid off for her in the end!

Another celebrity who has built an empire on her body is Jenny McCarthy, who was named Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1994, and posed nude on the cover. Eventually, the acclaim from her risqué shoots paved the way for acting, and McCarthy went on to star in various movies and TV shows, including "Two and a Half Men." But interestingly, McCarthy's days as a Playboy Playmate aren't the most controversial thing about her.

Jenny McCarthy became the face of the anti-vax movement

While COVID-19 has divided people over vaccinations, opposition to vaccines has existed since vaccines were first invented. As of this writing, the anti-vaxxer belief is that vaccinations can lead to autism in children, despite no concrete evidence of this being true (per the CDC). Jenny McCarthy is leading the anti-vaxxer charge, and has been an outspoken critic of vaccines ever since her son was diagnosed with autism in 2005.

Per Insider, McCarthy believes that her son Evan has since overcome his autism diagnosis "through a regiment including diet change, vitamins, and supplements," while rumors spread that he may have been misdiagnosed in the first place. Meanwhile, the former Playboy Playmate has authored three books about autism and continues to repeatedly claim that her son's autism was caused by vaccines.

It's especially problematic, as McCarthy is far from an expert on the subject and even told Oprah Winfrey that she'd learned all about autism from "the University of Google." In May 2018, the actor told CNBC that she believes it's her purpose in life to advocate for children with autism, despite her lack of medical knowledge. "My reason for being famous was to deliver this message," she added. Along with writing books on the subject, McCarthy is also living out her purpose as the president and face of Generation Rescue, a non-profit "that links autism with immunization," according to Time.

Jenny McCarthy has taken plenty of heat for her anti-vax beliefs

Unsurprisingly, Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine stance has met with plenty of backlash. The star's controversial beliefs even stalled her career and lost her a lucrative gig on "The View" back in 2014. When she was first announced as a co-host on the show, viewers were outraged that McCarthy was being given a public platform to spread misleading anti-vax beliefs — and an op-ed in Slate blasted her as "a threat to public health." After taking some heat, McCarthy penned a column in the Chicago Sun-Times to defend her reputation, going so far as to state that she was actually "pro-vaccine," per Salon.

"I am not anti-vaccine," the star wrote. "This is not a change in my stance nor is it a new position that I have recently adopted. For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, 'pro-vaccine,' and for years I have been wrongly branded as 'anti-vaccine.'" If you're confused, then so are we, and so was Slate writer Phil Plait. "McCarthy is still claiming that there is a link between vaccines and autism. However that is simply not true. Again and again and again and again this has been shown," he wrote.

McCarthy also turned to reality TV in an attempt to salvage her reputation, and starred on "The Wahlburgers" with husband Donnie Wahlberg. Though the series ran until 2019, it seems that the controversy surrounding her anti-vax beliefs seems to be set in stone.