Nancy Reagan was envious of Barbara Bush's confidence since she refused to wear makeup

Nancy Reagan set the highest disapproval rating for any first lady up to her tenure. On the other hand, approval ratings placed Barbara at second highest, just below Jackie Kennedy


                            Nancy Reagan was envious of Barbara Bush's confidence since she refused to wear makeup

Former First Ladies Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan were not on the best of terms, particularly because the matriarch of the Bush family had to endure catty digs from Nancy about her appearance until her husband George HW Bush became President.  

Reports state that Nancy Reagan set the highest disapproval rating for any first lady up to her tenure. On the other hand, the only first lady who had higher approval ratings than Barbara Bush was Jackie Kennedy. 

Barbara Bush, while highlighting her flaws, once said: "My mail tells me a lot of fat, white-haired, wrinkled ladies are tickled pink. I think it makes them feel better about themselves," according to author Susan Page in 'The Matriarch, Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty' released on Tuesday.



 

The author in the book wrote: "Barbara Bush presented herself as America's grandmother, comforting and comfortable, although in fact, that was just one dimension of her complicated persona."

However, it was her grandmotherly veneer that made Nancy seethe when she served as First Lady, according to the Daily Mail. She also hoped that Barbara would change the way she dressed and do something more glamorous with her hair, and wear some makeup.

Nancy, as she was leaving the White House, has no advice for Barbara as first lady, however, "she sniffed that the job was considerably more difficult than being Second Lady," Page wrote in her book.

Nancy, in her memoirs, long after Barbara had moved to California, took another dig at her fashion sense. She reportedly wasn't through with "the shrubs", as she referred to the Bush family.

Gerald Ford, Barbara Bush, George Bush and Nancy Reagan listen to speakers during the second day of the Republican National Convention, August 1, 2000 in Philadelphia. (Getty Images)
Gerald Ford, Barbara Bush, George Bush and Nancy Reagan listen to speakers during the second day of the Republican National Convention, August 1, 2000 in Philadelphia. (Getty Images)

 

However, Nancy's digs did not offend Barbara much because, the author states that the first lady had decided earlier on: "You have two choices in life: You can like what you do, or you can dislike it. I have chosen to like it."



 

When Barbara's hair started turning grey, after multiple attempts at coloring it, she eventually decided to let nature take its course and went ahead with the concept that "what you see is what you said. People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly are boring," the first lady said at the time.

It was just that attitude that vexed Nancy Reagan who was amazed that Barbara didn't bother to dye her hair.

"Nancy also was envious of Barbara's self-confidence, her social standing, and her close-knit family, attributes that hit Nancy at some of her greatest vulnerabilities," the author wrote in the book, adding that Barbara knew she would never win in Nancy's eyes. 

"I think she just was insecure," Barbara told Susan Page in one of many interviews. She considered Nancy "brittle and shallow, and as a mother who had failed to forge a close or even functional relationship with her children."