Emma Watson has said that she is "quietly stunned" by the wave of criticism that she has received for appearing partially nude in a photo in Vanity Fair magazine.

Discussing the wave of negativity that on Twitter after she posed in a sheer top with her breasts partially exposed for the magazine, the actress said that she was "confused" that critics declared the shoot "anti-feminist" and "hypocritical".

"Feminism is about giving women a choice. Feminism is not a stick with which we beat other women with," said the 26-year-old in an interview with Reuters.

"It's about freedom, it's about liberation, it's about equality. I don't see what my tits have to do with it. It's very confusing. I am confused. I am just always quietly stunned."

"What were people saying about you?" asked actor Dan Stevens, who joined the actress for the promotional interview for their latest picture, Beauty and the Beast.

"They were saying that I couldn't be a feminist and have boobs," replied the actress.

Watson, who will play Belle in the remaking of the Disney classic, has previously faced criticism for her publicly feminist stance.

The star said that she went into a "24-hour sulk" after she was criticised for backing the HeForShe campaign, which asked men to advocate for gender equality in a UN initiative.

"There is a level of criticism that comes with being an actress. But once you take a stance on something like feminism, that's a completely different ball game," the Harry Potter star said to Elle.

"There were a couple of days when I just didn't want to come out from under the duvet. I realised I needed 24 hours to sulk."

Watson recently launched a feminist book club, named Our Shared Shelf, which saw the actress promote seven titles written by women on Goodreads.

Beauty and the Beast, in which the star plays protagonist Belle in a live-action remake of the classic animated Disney film, will be released in cinemas on 17 March.