EMMA Watson has fired back at critics who suggested she was a "fake feminist" and "hypocrite" after posing in a see-through top for this month's Vanity Fair magazine.

The 26-year-old actress wore a cleavage-baring bolero in an artistic image by British fashion photographer Tim Walker for the cover story.

"Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It's about freedom, it's about liberation, it's about equality. I really don't know what my tits have to do with it," she said in a fiery BBC interview.

"It's very confusing. I'm confused. Most people are confused. I'm always just kind of quietly stunned (by such reactions)."

Although the photograph of Watson, a feminist campaigner and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, sparked a mainly positive reaction on Twitter, some claimed the image was "hypocritical", given her feminist stance.

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One critic was British columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer, who shamed Watson over her "topless" photo.

"Emma Watson: 'Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my tits!'" she wrote.

A comment piece in The Independent questioned Watson's choices.

A number of social media users leapt to Watson's defence, pointing out the actress' high-profile advocacy for gender equality.

Watson graduated from Brown University in 2014 and became a global ambassador for the United Nations in July of that year.

She helped to launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls on men to push for gender equality.

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson and then-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend the

The proud feminist, who is currently promoting her new film Beauty and the Beast, revealed in her Vanity Fair cover story why she refuses to take selfies with Harry Potter fans.

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"For me, it's the difference between being able to have a life and not. If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it, within two seconds they've created a marker of exactly where I am within 10 metres," she told Vanity Fair.

"They can see what I'm wearing and who I'm with. I just can't give that tracking data."

The British star is currently dating William 'Mack' Knight.

News Corp Australia


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