It can be difficult for twins to find their own identities, especially when they’re in the public eye, but Jenna Bush Hager insists that her parents never compared her to her sister Barbara Bush — even when the latter achieved a near-perfect SAT score.
The 36-year-old Today correspondent opened up about what it was like to grow up with a fraternal twin sister in a powerful essay about why it is a ‘waste of time’ to compare yourself to others.
‘My parents never compared me to my twin sister, Barbara, which was a gift. But we were constantly compared by the outside world: She has brown hair; she has blond. She’s the loud one; she’s quiet,’ she wrote.
Best friends: Jenna Bush Hager (left) insists that her parents never compared her to her fraternal twin sister Barbara Bush (right)
Throwback: The twins are pictured with their parents, former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
Looking back: Jenna (pictured with Barbara) noted that she and her sister were constantly compared by the outside world
‘But because our parents, the center of our universe, refused to compare us, we grew inseparable and always celebrated each other’s successes.’
Jenna, the daughter of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, recalled Barbara getting a nearly perfect score on her SATs, noting that her parents didn’t make her feel like her score was a disappointment.
And while she ended up in an after-school test-prep class to try and improve her own score, she insisted that she was happy for her sister.
Jenna now has her own daughters, four-year-old Mila and two-year-old Poppy, and she understands just how easy — and harmful — it can be for parents to compare their own children.
Labels: Jenna said she was known as the ‘loud one’ with blonde hair, while Barbara was the quiet one with dark hair
Spotlight: Jenna and Barbara (pictured with their grandmother, former First Lady Barbara Bush) grew up in the public eye
Look of love: ‘Because our parents, the center of our universe, refused to compare us, we grew inseparable and always celebrated each other’s successes,’ Jenna wrote
‘I adore both of my preciously different girls and, like my Mama, I hope to help them see their unique qualities as gifts,’ she explained.
Jenna couldn’t help but look back on her mother’s advice to her right before she started her freshman year at Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin, Texas.
At the time, she worried that she wouldn’t be as smart or pretty as the other girls, but her mother stressed that she didn’t need to compare herself to anyone because she was ‘great’ the way she was.
Two decades later, Jenna wants to teach her daughters how to ’embrace their strengths’ and be ‘easy on themselves’ when it comes to their weaknesses.
Individuals: The Today correspondent noted that her parents didn’t make her feel like her SAT score was a disappointment when Barbara achieved a near-perfect score (pictured in 1998)
Best friends: Jenna and Barbara live just a few blocks away from each other in New York City
No comparison: Jenna said she wants to raise her daughters Mila, four, and Poppy, two (pictured with her family) as individuals like her mom raised her and Barbara
The Today show star went on to note that society is constantly comparing women in general, leading them to feel guilty and ashamed for no reason.
As a working mom, Jenna admitted that she feels ‘ashamed’ when she misses her daughters’ school events because of her career.
Meanwhile, her sister Barbara is constantly asked why she isn’t married.
‘Let’s be united as women … women who are multiple things at once,’ she said. ‘Women who support each other and lift each other up.
‘And — this is for my dearest sister, who is many beautiful things — can we please come up with better questions for women than why they aren’t married?’ she added.
‘We are judged by the way we look, what size we wear, our choice to marry, our choice to have children (or not) and it’s all too much.’