May 2, 2013 at 9:34 AM ET
Carla Bruni's striking looks have turned heads since her early modeling days, but the former first lady of France said pregnancy at age 43 – and the media criticism that came along with her baby weight – left her filled with self-doubt during a vulnerable period.
“They say, ‘She’s fat.’ They get really nasty. Nothing is out of bounds,” Bruni told Vanity Fair. On TODAY Thursday, journalist Maureen Orth discussed the story in the magazine’s June issue.
“It was a very fragile moment in my life. I'm kind of tall, with good size shoulders, and when I am 40 pounds overweight, I don't even look fat – I just look ugly. Having children when you're older is not easy.”
Bruni gave birth to her second child (she also has an 11-year-old son with another partner) as Nicolas Sarkozy launched his reelection campaign. She said the challenges of constant nursing, lack of sleep and trying to lose baby weight while supporting her husband on the road left her exhausted. It also made her care very little about appearing in public with her hair and makeup done.
“Exactly at the time of my life when I would beg not to be photographed. It becomes like a war,” she said.
But that left her a target for media criticism, Orth said. “Beyond the campaign trail, they were saying how bad she looked – and she said the Americans were the worst, by the way.”
Sarkozy eventually lost his election bid to Francois Hollande, the current French president. Bruni cleared the air about the headlines she made when she left the presidential palace for the last time wearing a nondescript pantsuit over a T-shirt. She denied she was sending a message about the publicity she sometimes detested while in the political spotlight.
“Those were the only pants I could get into!” she insisted.
Bruni recently released a new album, “Little French Songs,” her first since 2008, but has curbed her tour because of the numerous investigations surrounding her husband. Among the allegations Sarkozy is battling is that he took advantage of France’s richest woman, the elderly billionaire heiress of L’Oreal, to finance his 2007 presidential election.
Bruni claimed most of the allegations are motivated by opposition politics. She also responded to rumors that she had planned to leave her husband once he left office.
“That’s crazy,” she said. “Because power was one of the problems that we had to face together. Power is not a pleasure. It makes you vulnerable.”
Bruni also was open about her ongoing therapy sessions.
“I think I will be there until I die,” she said, explaining that therapy has helped bring her lucidity and self-improvement.
“With aging, if there is no philosophy, there’s no serenity, there’s no wisdom, there’s nothing but falling apart,” she said. “Wrinkles without wisdom are boring. I want to become mature. I want to become wise.”