Chelsea Clinton has opened up about her relationship with her mother, Hillary Clinton, detailing how the politician gave her a positive perspective on “health” and “how she felt about herself” as a child.
The former First Daughter discussed weight and body image during a recent appearance on The View. The conversation began when the hosts addressed how Jenner Bush Hager had praised her mother, Laura Bush, for not discussing weight with her children.
According to The View host Joy Behar, no matter what her parents said to her about her weight as a child, she still “felt like [she] was fat,” due to how many “skinny” models have been shown on covers of Cosmo magazine. However, Chelsea chimed in and disagreed, noting how her mother “helped” her by caring a lot about her “health” and what foods were good for it.
“My mom always had a really strong emphasis on health,” she explained. “So I wasn’t allowed to eat sugar cereal, except on the weekends, and my parents made sure I really understood what a vegetable was.”
“And I do remember my mom going on Weight Watchers when I was a kid, and yet even though it was called Weight Watchers, she always talked about it as being good for her health,” the 42-year-old global health advocate added.
She also acknowledged that discussions with her mother about eating well were important to her as a child, especially when her father, former President Bill Clinton, was in the spotlight and running for office. Chelsea recalled how, at the time, many “white men” were making comments about her body.
“I think that did help protect me when I was 12, 13, and my dad was running for office and there were all sorts of largely older white men commenting on my looks, on my weight, on my appearance,” she explained. “I was like, ‘Well that’s about them, that’s not about me.’”
However, she said that because of her parents, she learned how to ignored “what other people were saying to [her]” and gained a better understanding of herself.
“I give my mom and my dad, but mainly my mom, a lot of credit for the sense of self that I had and the focus on health and how I felt about myself and not what other people were saying to me, or whatever messages that were coming to me from either other people or Cosmo,” she explained.
Behar noted how now-deceased commentator Rush Limbaugh had previously said some pretty “nasty” comments to the Clinton family. And according to Chelsea, Limbaugh wasn’t the “only” one who made remarks about her. But, because of her family and peers, she was able to “prepare” for it and never “internalised” it.
“Rush Limbaugh was nasty, the most infamous but not the only,” she said. “And yet, I never internalised that, I think because, again, thankfully, of everything my parents, my grandparents, my teachers, my Sunday school teachers, the messages the adults in my life were sending and instilling in me helped really prepare me.”
Chelsea emphasised that as a 12-year-old girl, it was vey uncomfortable to her “older men” say such “disgusting” things about her.
“They were saying nasty stuff about my parents but it was weird,” she continued. “I was 12. And that there are like these older men pontificating about how a 12-year-old looks is weird, at best, and really disgusting and cruel and creepy.”
Chelsea has previously opened up about her relationship with her parents and how they supported her while she was participating in the New York City Marathon last November. During an appearance on The View last month, Chelsea detailed how she called her parents during the race, who gave her words of encouragement to finish it.
“So at mile 11, I call my parents,” she said, via People. “I’m running along and my mom’s like, ‘Aren’t you running the marathon?’ And I’m like, ‘I am. I’m going to make it. You have to come.’ And she was like, ‘Okay, we’ll be there.’”
Along with her Bill and Hillary, Chelsea’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and their three children, Charlotte, seven, Aidan, five, and Jasper, two, attended the event.