The photos, which were shot by renowned fashion photographer Tim Walker, showed the Beauty and the Beast actress rocking a little underboob in a bolero jacket and no bra and were met with mixed reviews from fans, some of whom said the look clashed with Watson's feminist values.
"It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is," the 26-year-old told news agency Reuters.
"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 t*ts have to do with it. It's very confusing," she added.
"I'm confused," Watson continued. "Most people are confused. No, I'm just always just quietly stunned."
The Harry Potter alum, who is also a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and HeForShe campaign pioneer, defended the photos and said she was involved in the artistic direction of them.
"We'd been doing so many crazy things on that shoot but it felt incredibly artistic and I've been so creatively involved and engaged with Tim and I'm so thrilled about how interesting and beautiful the photographs were," she said.
The controversy began when online commentators suggested that Watson undermined her desire to be taken seriously as an actress and feminist by showing skin.
"Emma Watson: 'Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my t*ts!'" wrote one such commenter alongside a photograph of an article on Watson headlined "Beauty and the Breast."
Emma Watson: "Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my tits!" pic.twitter.com/gb7OvxzRH9