Carla Bruni on media: 'They get really nasty'

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.

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    Carla Bruni -

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    Cuddle up -

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy sits on a bench with his wife after voting at a polling station in the first round in the French mayoral elections in Paris on March 23, 2014.

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    Little French Songs -

    Carla performs during a concert at Philharmonie im Gasteig in Munich, Germany on March 15, 2014.

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    All smiles -

    Bruni-Sarkozy arrives for the 2013 Echo Music Awards in Berlin, Germany, March 21, 2013.

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    Making music -

    Carla performs during the 63rd edition of the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy on Feb. 13, 2013.

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    Handover ceremony -

    Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy leave the Elysee Palace after the formal investiture ceremony between France's president Francois Hollande and his sucessor on May 15, 2012 in Paris.

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    In with the new -

    French President-elect Francois Hollande's companion Valerie Trierweiler, right, shakes hands with outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy before the presidential handover ceremony, on May 15, 2012 at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

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    Casting a vote -

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy at a polling station to cast his vote during the second round of the 2012 French Presidential election at Lycee Jean De La Fontaine on May 6, 2012 in Paris, France.

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    Expecting -

    Carla Bruni-Sarkozy waves to visitors in the gardens of the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on Sept. 17, 2011, during France's Day of Patrimony. For two days a year in Paris and the rest of France, thousands of monuments, government buidings and privately owned sites of interest open their doors to the public at the Day of Patrimony.

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    Waiting -

    Carla Bruni-Sarkozy waits for the spouses of the Heads of Delegation participating in the G8 Summit on May 26, 2011 in Deauville, France.

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    All smiles -

    Carla Bruni-Sarkozy meets children as she visits a book fair on Mar. 18, 2011 in Paris.

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    Sitting pretty -

    Benin President Thomas Yayi Boni speaks with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on Jan. 26, 2010 at the presidential palace in Cotonou. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was on a two day visit dedicated to the fight against the HIV-Aids virus.

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    Seeing stars -

    Director Woody Allen talks with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Owen Wilson on July 28, 2010 in Paris during the shooting of Allen's latest movie "Midnight in Paris". Despite a starry cast including Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard and and Kathy Bates, pre-publicity for "Midnight in Paris" has focused on the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's big screen debut.

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    Hitting notes -

    Carla Bruni and Dave Stewart perform at Radio City Music Hall July 18, 2009 for a 91st birthday concert for Nelson Mandela.

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    Laughing it up -

    President Barack Obama laughs with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Michelle Obama at the Palais Rohan in Strasbourg April 3, 2009. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance is celebrating its 60th anniversary this week at a summit co-hosted by Germany and France.

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    Solemn occasion -

    French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Britain's Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leave the Douaumont memorial Tuesday in Verdun, France, following Nov. 11, 2008 ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. The Battle of Verdun in 1916 was one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.

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    They’ll take Manhattan -

    During his September 2008 trip to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, French president Nicolas Sarkozy (far left) and Carla Bruni became just two more joggers taking their exercise amid midtown traffic.

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    Papal visit -

    Pope Benedict XVI waved to the public from the Elysee Palace in Paris, where he was welcomed by president Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni Sarkozy in Sept. 2008. The German-born pontiff was on a four-day visit to France marking the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes.

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    Hello, Dalai -

    In Aug. 2008, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy joined the Dalai Lama at the inauguration of Lerab Ling Buddhist temple at Roqueredonde, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader consecrated the temple during his 12 day-visit to France.

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    The attraction -

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrive at the Elysee palace after the annual Bastille Day military parade. The steamy details of their whirlwind romance captivated both the paparazzi and the public and became the subject of a book. "It all happened suddenly. I wasn't expecting someone so funny, so full of life. I was seduced by his physique and his intelligence," Bruni told the authors of "Carla and Nicolas, the True Story."

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    Marriage and music -

    During an interview on French TV, Bruni said that she was "hurt" by frosty reactions to her new album. "If people don't listen because I married the president of the republic, I understand," she said. "If they do listen because I married the president of the republic, I will be delighted. And if people ... like it, that is what counts for me."

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    First lady -

    President Sarkozy and Bruni married on Feb. 2, 2008 in a 20-minute civil ceremony in the presidential office of the Elysee Palace in Paris, giving Bruni the title of first lady of France. Since then, she has attended many political events. Here she is with Queen Elizabeth II during welcoming ceremonies at Windsor Castle.

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    Presidential liaison -

    Bruni and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met at a semi-political dinner party in Nov. 2007. Just three months after Sarkozy divorced his wife, he and Bruni became a couple. The two reportedly were engaged on Christmas Day, 2007. That same month they visited the Pyramids while Sarkozy was in Cairo for talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

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    Love vs. desire -

    At the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Bruni, who was born in Turin, carried the Italian flag. In 2007, Bruni told French magazine Le Figaro Madame that "love lasts a long time, but burning desire -- two to three weeks," and that she found monogamy boring.

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    The sound of music -

    In 1997, Bruni decided to pursue a music career. Six years later, she released her first album of vocals and acoustic guitar, titled “Quelqu’un m’a dit” (Someone Told Me). The album was produced by one of her ex-lovers, Louis Bertignac. It sold over a million copies in France, and another 300,000 copies elsewhere. Bruni was also awarded the French equivalent of a Grammy for best female vocalist. Her second album was released in early 2007. In total, she has sold two million records.

    Francois Mori / AP
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    Runway beauty -

    Italian model Carla Bruni shows a pink evening gown designed by Gianni Versace for the Haute-Couture 1996 Spring/Summer collection in Paris.

    Gerard Julien / AFP - Getty Images
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    Behind the runway -

    Bruni, the daughter of a wealthy Italian tire manufacturer, became a model while in her teens. She began her career with City Models in Paris, and soon became a staple with couture fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino as well as in perfume ads for GUESS. Here she is in 1993, behind the scenes at the showing of Valentino's spring-summer collection.

    Corbis
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    Femme fatale -

    Bruni was one of the highest-paid supermodels in 1990, but that wasn't the only reason she was a household name. In her 20s, Bruni had an affair with Mick Jagger, allegedly breaking up his marriage. In addition, she has been romantically linked to Kevin Costner, Eric Clapton and Donald Trump. In 2001, while the femme fatale was living with her lover, writer Jean-Paul Enthoven, she began an affair with his son, Raphael, and soon had a child with him.

    Corbis

“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.”

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