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Jenna Bush Hager and Meredith Vieira discuss their struggles with body image

The duo got real while recounting their own personal stories of accepting their bodies while growing up.
/ Source: TODAY

Jenna Bush Hager and Meredith Vieira have opened up about a topic that many women can relate to: body image.

Meredith, filling in for Hoda Kotb on Wednesday’s TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, joined Jenna for a discussion in which they both admitted they were chubby as kids and grappled with feeling that they weren't attractive.

“I had this bike and I was rounding the curve, and this was one of my good friends sitting on the curb with a little boy, so we had to be, like, 8, maybe, and she referred to my rear end," Meredith said. “To this day... I remember all of it... and to this day, it sticks in my head.”

That incident changed Meredith’s approach to food.

“And then I went on this ridiculous diet," she said. "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.” she continued. “I already had body image problems.”

She didn’t blame the girl who teased her for her insecurities, though. “It was maybe something waiting to happen,” she said.

“I’m always struggling with it," she admitted while noting there are times when she is pleased with how she looks. "And we live in a looksist society where even when you think you’re looking good, there are plenty of people out there especially if you’re in front of a camera who make it their point to tell you, ‘Nah, not so much.’”

Jenna then discussed a body image struggle of her own. She revealed that she wrote in her journal in first grade that her New Year’s resolution was to lose four pounds. Then, her twin sister Barbara found it. “And Barbara read it actually," she said. "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.”

Jenna also says she hopes the confidence her daughters, Mila, 6, and Poppy, 3, have never wavers.

“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.

Meredith thinks things are changing, though, and noted her daughter, Lily, 26, has avoided these kinds of issues.

“Maybe something’s getting through,” she said.

"Well, what did you do?" Jenna asked.

"Like I said, I think she knows all my issues. I've shared everything with her at the appropriate time in terms of my insecurities," Meredith said. "She is her dad. She's such a strong personality and so grounded. And I mean I think she's beautiful anyway.

“She’s never gone through that, which I think is fantastic” she added.

Jenna also said that she and TODAY anchor Savannah Guthrie talk about body image a lot. Savannah, who was featured in People's 2019 Beautiful Issue with her family, told Jenna diets were sometimes mentioned in her household growing up.

Savannah has also previously been open about body image.

“I’ve never once felt good about how I looked on the outside,” she told Health magazine in a recent interview. “I think all of us women spend so much time not feeling like we measure up. And what a waste of energy. I’m not there yet, but that’s my goal.”

She also wrote a letter to her daughter, Vale, in 2017, urging her to love her body.

"You don't know this yet, but our society is pretty obsessed with body image," she wrote. "Before too long (it's inevitable) you'll be bombarded with images of perfection almost nobody can attain. If you're like me, and so many women, you'll be tempted to judge yourself, to compare yourself, to berate yourself, to doubt yourself. I hope somehow I can equip you to withstand this assault on your confidence.