"I always had a thing about exploiting sexuality," Witherspoon told Vanity Fair for their April cover story. "When I came up in the business, there were all these men's magazines we were told to cater to. I was never in Maxim. I was never picked as a GQ girl, and I'm okay with that because that's not how I wanted to be viewed. That's not how I see myself."
"I always say, 'Funny doesn't sag.' I always just wanted to be funny, you know?" she continued. "And you can't be rendered obsolete if you just keep being funny. Guess what gets rendered obsolete? Your boobs go south, your face goes south, your ass goes south, but you can always be funny. And those are my idols, my heroes -- Goldie, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Nancy Meyers -- smart and funny."
The interview touched on many sensitive topics, including Reese discussing the response to her disclosing past trauma.
"Bad things happened to me. I was assaulted, harassed. It wasn't isolated," Witherspoon said. "I recently had a journalist ask me about it. She said, 'Well, why didn't you speak up sooner?' And I thought, that's so interesting to talk to someone who experienced those things and then judge them for the way they decide to speak about them. You tell your story in your own time when you're ready. But the shame that she tried to put on me was unreal, and then she wrote about how selfish I was for not bringing it up sooner."
"There wasn't a public reckoning 25 years ago when this stuff happened to me," she continued, referring to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. "There wasn't a forum to speak about it either. Social media has created a new way for people to express themselves that I didn't have. That's the great strength in power and numbers. I think we have a lot of judgment and that's unfortunate because we're all tenderfooted in these new times. We're trying to find our identity."
"That's what I really like about 'The Morning Show,'" Witherspoon added of the AppleTV+ drama, which features a news station tackling a sexual misconduct and harassment scandal.
Meanwhile, the Oscar winner was also asked by Vanity Fair if she thinks it's a "mixed signal" for women to discuss their experience with harassment while being photographed "draped backward over a sofa with no top on under their jacket. In response, Witherspoon paused and then said how her 20-year-old daughter, Ava Phillippe would answer the question.
"I can tell you what my daughter would say," Witherspoon explained. "Why should a woman have to sublimate her own sexuality, because that's not her responsibility, the way she's viewed, right? Her sexuality shouldn't be diminished because she's having a conversation about consent. You should be able to be sexual, to display your sexuality, because consent is consent, no matter what."
"I know," she added. "It's complex. It's not how I grew up. I grew up thinking you dress the way you want to be treated. But things are changing."
To see more from Reese Witherspoon's interview with Vanity Fair, click here.
The April issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands March 24.