Jenna Bush Hager has opened up about how her late grandmother Barbara Bush told her she looked ‘chubby’ in a bikini when she was a teenager — only to apologize for the cutting remark years later.
The Today host, 41, was talking about body image with her co-host Hoda Kotb on a recent episode of the show when she reflected on a moment from her adolescence that negatively affected her confidence.
‘I remember being a teenager. I remember the bikini color I was wearing, a yellow bikini color,’ she said. ‘I was laying next to my sister [Barbara Bush], and my grandmother, who I adored, but had kind of a biting personality, said something like, “Oh, Jenna! Looking chubby.”‘
Jenna Bush Hager, 41, opened up about how her late grandmother Barbara Bush called her ‘chubby’ when she was a teenager during a recent episode of the Today show
The Today host (pictured with her grandmother and twin Barbara in 2000) recalled how she was wearing a yellow bikini and lying next to her sister at the time
Bush Hager recalled how her grandmother’s passing comment had impacted the way she viewed herself in her formative years.
‘I remember feeling like I wanted to hide in it,’ she said.
Bush Hager didn’t learn until years later that her grandmother had been projecting her own insecurities onto her.
The former first lady had faced similar commentary from her own mother, Pauline Pierce, who would often compare her to her older sister, Martha Pierce, according to her granddaughter.
‘My grandmother, who I adored, but had kind of a biting personality, said something like, “Oh, Jenna! Looking chubby,”‘ recalled Bush Hager (pictured with a friend before prom)
Bush Hager never forgot the biting comment or how she felt in that moment. ‘I remember feeling like I wanted to hide in it,’ she explained
‘She later told me that her mother said those types of things to her,’ Bush Hager explained. ‘Her mother always thought of her sister as the really beautiful one and would say it. “Martha’s the pretty one. You’re the funny one. You’re the smart one. Martha is this one. You’re that one.”
‘And so, late [in] life, she said, “You know, when I said those things to you, I was talking to myself.”‘
Bush Hager has been candid about how she and her fraternal twin Barbara were constantly compared when they were growing up, though she noted that her parents, George W. and Laura Bush, never did that to them.
She and her husband, Henry Hager, now have three children of their own: Mila, nine, Poppy, seven, and Hal, three.
Bush Hager told her co-host Hoda Kotb that she didn’t learn until years later that her grandmother had been projecting her own insecurities onto her
The former first lady (center) had faced similar commentary from her own mother, Pauline Pierce (left), who would often compare her to her older sister, Martha Pierce (right)
Bush Hager has been candid about how she and her fraternal twin Barbara were constantly compared by the outside world when they were growing up
Bush Hager and Kotb agreed that certain looks and seemingly innocent comments from adults can affect a child’s body image.
‘It’s interesting because I didn’t wear a bikini for years, and last year, after having three kids, three C-sections [I did],’ Bush Hager told her co-host. ‘I did it because of you because you don’t have that anymore.’
Kotb noted that she was raised by a mother who ‘never cared’ about what she looks like in a swimsuit and still wears a bikini to this day.
‘She goes, “Of course, I need sun,’ she said, imitating her mom, Sameha.
Back in 2016, Bush Hager found a fourth-grade diary entry in which she vowed to lose four pounds on January 1, 1991. ‘That broke my heart,’ she admitted
Jenna Bush Hager and her husband, Henry Hager, have three children: Mila, Poppy, and Hal
Back in 2016, Bush Hager was confronted with the realization that she had been consumed with diets and losing weight long before she was a teenager.
She explained on the Today show that she was at the Bush family home in Texas for the holidays when she found her diary.
After reading through the entries, she was shocked to see that she had vowed to shed four pounds on January 1, 1991.
‘That broke my heart,’ she admitted. ‘And my sister told me that she found it four years before, but she never told me because it broke her heart.’