Jenna Bush Hager Opens Up To Meredith Vieira About Her Past Struggles With Body Confidence

Jenna Bush Hager and Meredith Vieira discussed body confidence and how they encourage their daughters to feel comfortable in their skin.

Jenna Bush Hager smiles on the red carpet.
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Jenna Bush Hager and Meredith Vieira discussed body confidence and how they encourage their daughters to feel comfortable in their skin.

As the daughters of former President George Bush, Jenna Bush Hager and her twin sister Barbara spent much of their adolescence in the spotlight. They were scrutinized often by the media who followed their every move. On Wednesday’s episode of Today with Hoda and Jenna, Meredith Vieira sat in for Hoda Kotb. She and Hager had an open discussion about body confidence and the struggles they’ve experienced in the past with feeling comfortable in their skin. Hager admitted that her issues with self-esteem started at a very young age. In fact, it was well before she ever started living in the White House, according to Today.

When Hager was only in the first grade, she wrote in her journal that her new year’s resolution was to lose seven pounds. The number was later crossed out and replaced by four. Years later, it was Barbara who discovered the journal and was heartbroken in realizing the issues her sister was struggling with at such a young age, Hager explained.

“And Barbara read it actually. And then cried for her little twin sister. Or larger twin sister. And then decided not to show me ’cause she didn’t want it to break my heart and then I found it.”

When Hager looks at her own daughter’s, 6-year-old Mila and 3-year-old Poppy, she sees two happy little girls who are pleased with the reflection in the mirror.

“I see my perfect little girls right now. And they look at themselves in the mirror and they’re so proud and I’m like, ‘How can I leave that? How can that stay?’ I don’t know the answer,” she said.

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Vieira could relate with these issues of body positivity, which plagued her too when she was a little girl. She still remembers riding a bike as a child and hearing someone make a critical comment about her body. While many years have passed by, she still remembers that comment and how much it hurt like it was yesterday. After that day, Vieira, only a little girl, went on a crazy diet to help her lose weight as fast as possible.

“All I did was drink Tab and eat like five Ritz crackers a day for the entire summer. Maybe 10 (years old) when I did that for like a month and a half. I already had body image problems.”

Vieira noted that she has been upfront and honest about her ongoing struggles with body confidence with her daughter, 26-year-old Lily. She hopes that by doing so her daughter will understand that she is good enough just how she is.