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Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager reflect on hurtful comments in tough conversation

The NBC anchors have been open in the past about their struggles with self-esteem surrounding their image and personal lives


Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on Today with Hoda and Jenna© Getty Images
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
April 12, 2023
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Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager aren't afraid to get raw and personal during Today with Hoda and Jenna, going in deep on Wednesday's episode.

The two kicked off their discussion with words of praise for Ariana Grande after she posted a now-viral TikTok addressing those making comments on her appearance.

Ariana's TikTok became the catalyst for Hoda and Jenna's conversation

They stood by the singer, and opened up about subjects like empathy and the need to understand where people come from, before diving into such experiences of their own.

"I had a boyfriend in seventh grade that broke up with me after we went swimming together and he saw me in a bathing suit," Jenna, 41, recalled.

MORE: Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush praise Taylor Swift’s split from Joe Alwyn as 'courageous'

MORE: Hota Kotb shares crippling insecurities during early career

"So I feel even sometimes now when I feel great, I have three kids, three c-sections, I feel really in my body and I think of it as a beautiful thing, I'll walk in a pool and have a moment."

They talked about people who'd made comments on their bodies and personal choices as adults in the public eye, branding it an "ouch" moment.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on Today with Hoda and Jenna© Getty Images
Hoda and Jenna got candid about their struggles with body positivity

58-year-old Hoda shared a particularly distressing incident: "I'll never forget this. I got a letter addressed to me in somebody's handwriting to my house.

"I open the letter, and it was something along the lines of, 'How dare you bring a child into this world at your age. Don't you know what you're doing to that child?'" 

MORE: Jenna Bush Hager stops Today live on-air over appearance issue that baffles Hoda Kotb

MORE: Jenna Bush Hager inundated with support on Today as her time on the show is reflected upon

"It went on and on, and that took my breath away because that actually was my ouch. I was scared, I wondered whether it was the right thing to do, would I be helping or harming."

Jenna defiantly concluded: "We need to stop commenting on women's bodies, period. We're in our bodies, we know!" Hoda added: "Someone comments 'You look big'. I walk around in my body, I know that. I live here, this is me."

VIDEO: Hoda Kotb reveals change to look following daughter Hope's hospital scare

They ended with a message to their children – Hoda is a mom to two while Jenna and her husband Henry share three – to be "loving" and the kind of people to help those in need rather than make snap judgments.

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