Jenna Bush Hager to daughters: ‘Who you are is more important than how you look’

To my darling girls: Mila and Poppy,

When I’m on the road, traveling away from you, I compulsively scroll through photos of you on my phone. I look at your eyes bright, your smiles wide, your skin pure. I have never seen anything more beautiful than the two of you.

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It is the way you look — your blue eyes (that I longed for as a girl) and your golden hair — but more than that, it is YOU! I see all of you: your kindness, your exuberance, your creativity and, yes, your rambunctious humor.

But, my darling girls, that purity and light I see in your eyes could one day be shattered by our world. You will see images on TV and in movies and magazines to which you will inevitably compare yourself. And you will feel that you come up short. I know that I did.

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As a girl, clear braces covering my teeth, I remember staring in the mirror feeling uncomfortable with what I saw. As one of the tallest girls in my class, I wasn’t the type boys fell for … and worse, one of my first boyfriends in middle school broke up with me after a swim date! That’s not great for confidence-building, I’ll tell you.

My hearts, you, too, will look in the mirror and not always like what you see. You might not feel skinny enough or pretty enough. But if Daddy and I do our jobs, you will look in the mirror and always like who you see. And that, my babes, is far more important.

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My parents — your Jefe and Grammee — told me that I was smart and kind and pretty. They told me that I was enough. I didn’t always believe them when they said I was beautiful. But, my darlings, I was lucky because even though your grandparents encouraged me to like what I see, they emphasized that I should like how I think, how I care and how I make those around me feel.

They taught me that who I am is more important than how I look. And that if I radiate love, kindness and empathy, I can bring some light to this dark world (and isn’t that better than being a size zero?).

Jenna Bush Hager and her family as they appear in People's Most Beautiful issue.
Jenna Bush Hager and her family as they appear in People’s Most Beautiful issue.

So, my precious babes, always, always know that just by being authentically you, you are more than enough. And my hope is that one day, when you stand judging yourself in front of a mirror, you can see yourself the way I that I see you.

I adore you, my beauties,


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