Jenna Bush Hager Says She Was Body Shamed By Grandma Barbara When She Was A Teen

Former first lady Barbara Bush had a "biting personality" per her granddaughter Jenna, and once told her as a teen that she "looked chubby" in a bikini.

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Image Credit: Jennifer Katzman/Mark Reinstein/Shutterstock

Jenna Bush Hager revealed that her late grandmother Barbara Bush body shamed her as a teen. The television host, now 41, confessed that the former first lady told her that she was “looking chubby” while wearing a yellow bikini on TODAY With Hoda & Jenna, saying that the conversation made her want to “hide” her body. She described Barbara, who died in 2018 at 92 years old, as having a “biting personality” — but insists she “adored her.”

Years later, Jenna said her grandmother apologized for the upsetting comment — and said that she has heard similar things from her own mother Pauline Pierce, who would be Jenna’s great-grandmother. Barbara explained her mother “said those types of things” and that she had been “talking to herself” as she made the comment. “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’,” she added. Jenna did say, however, that her mother Laura Bush never put pressure on her to lose weight.

Jenna Bush is seen posing on a carpet. (Jennifer Katzman/Shutterstock)

The comment remained with Henna — who is now the mom of kids Mila, 9, Poppy, 7, and Hal, 3 — as she didn’t “wear a bikini for years” she said. That all changed, however, in 2022 when she sported a bikini with confidence. “After having three kids, three C-sections, [I did it],” she declared.

Barbara Bush passed away in 2018. (Mark Reinstein/Shutterstock)

Jenna has previously been candid on the show about her struggles with weight loss — revealing in October that she decided to make lifestyle changes. “Anybody who has either gained weight during the pandemic or had babies during the pandemic, it just takes time. My body isn’t 18 anymore,” she said to Hoda at the time. “We know that yo-yo dieting doesn’t work. It doesn’t. I’ve tried to but I’ve always gained the weight,” she added.

Her secret? A new workout routine she implemented before work. “The difference is I wake up before the show and I work out…And I really work out. I work out with an awesome woman named Amanda. [TODAY contributor] Donna [Farizan] joins me sometimes,” she noted, calling her colleague “a great inspiration.”

“I will say I think I have figured out what works for me. And I think the hard thing is I think we expect things to happen overnight. This has actually been over six months,” Jenna went on.

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