There is a certain kind of child who always has sticky red popsicle slush dribbling down his chin. Everyone blames farts and lice outbreaks on him. How did ex-certified hottie Jessica Simpson become Hollywood's version of that kid?

"Ex-certified" is to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. For all the recent "Jessica's ugly now" talk, deep down we all know she's a lovely woman, who launched a career with her loveliness. (And not a lot else.) But look at Us Weekly's recent coverage of Jessica—is it just me, or does she get more of the buffoonish farty-pants headlines than everyone else? Is this her doing, or is it ours?

[Click image to enlarge]

In all groups of semi-differentiated people—cliques, families, boy bands, Sex and the City knock-offs—every character must stand for something. This is true in the world of celebrity gossip, too. Paris Hilton is The Spoiled One. Kristen Stewart is The Sulky One. And Jessica Simpson is officially The Gross One.

Which is crazy, because she used to be The Hot One! For a while, grossness and hotness coexisted in Jessica: By day, she filmed videos featuring bikini car washes, and by night she groaned about her clogged pores on The Newlyweds.

When her image was perfect and her body flawless, her burping and farting was cute—but one too many bad breakups later, some weight gain, and a handful of fashion disasters later, reading gossip on Jessica Simpson on is like popping a zit and watching it ooze.

It works because Jessica is relatively good-natured about it. She eggs us on. She doesn't like being called fat or "sexual napalm," but she's happy to engage the visceral body babbling on her own level. On travel reality show Price of Beauty, she drops her jaw watching the occupants of a Ugandan fattening hut jiggle their rolls—then smears deodorant up her armpit and proffers her stinkiest body part for group sniffing. Cheerfully, she tells an interviewer how she never brushes her teeth. She's not The Hot One, anymore, but she's something, and that's all you need in show business, anyway.

Related: Jessica Simpson: It's Time to Say Good-Bye