Laura Bush Got Called an 'Old Maid' After Engagement to George, Daughter Jenna Says

The label was especially striking, the Bushes' daughter said, considering they're the same age

laura george and jenna bush
From left: Laura Bush, George W. Bush and Jenna Bush Hager. Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC

Jenna Bush Hager says that her mom, Laura Bush, faced sexist criticism when she announced her engagement to former President George W. Bush — and was even labeled an "old maid" by a local newspaper.

Hager, 39, made the comment on Monday's episode of Today while speaking with co-host Hoda Kotb about Sarah Jessica Parker's recent remarks to Vogue about ageism in Hollywood.

"There's so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man," Parker, 56, said in the interview, in response to social media swipes about her graying hair on the set of And Just Like That...

" 'Gray hair gray hair gray hair. Does she have gray hair? She has too many wrinkles, she doesn't have enough wrinkles,' " Parker recalled.

"It almost feels as if people don't want us to be perfectly okay with where we are," she told Vogue. "As if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better. I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?"

Presidential kids
Clockwise from top left: George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush. getty

Speaking about Parker's interview on Today, Hager said she was not surprised with the criticism the actress said she faced and cited an example from her own family about the double standard for men and women and age.

"When my parents got married they were in their 30s, which is young, but in Midland, Texas, it felt so old," Hager said. "And when they got engaged, in the newspaper it said — they're the same age — they said, 'Midland's most eligible bachelor gets Midland's old maid.' They called my mom an old maid!"

As Hager noted, the criticism was especially striking considering the Bushes — both now 75 — "were the same age."

"In their 30s she was considered an old maid to not be married but he was an eligible bachelor, so I think [misogyny has] kind of been around forever," Hager said.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal for a wide-ranging profile published in April, the former president said that he and his first got to know one another in Midland in July 1977, when mutual friends — Joe and Jan O'Neill — invited both over for burgers.

"I went. I was hungry. I was also getting up there in age and felt the urge to settle in," President Bush told the Journal.

But he was immediately attracted to the woman he would soon wed: "The moment I saw Laura's blue eyes I felt heart palpitations. She was a beautiful, stately woman. A little shy but very engaging."

The two dated for a few months before he proposed, saying that an "exciting new chapter" in their personal lives began.

Decades later and the Bushes just celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary (and Mrs. Bush's birthday) last week, with the 43rd president sharing a photo from their wedding day along with caption: "November is a special month in our house. Not only did we get to celebrate my beautiful wife's birthday yesterday, but also the great gift of marriage today. Happy Anniversary @laurawbush!"

The couple welcomed the arrival of their newest granddaughter in September when Barbara Bush — Hager's twin sister — gave birth to Cora Georgia, her first child with husband Craig Coyne.

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