Hoda Kotb Opens Up About What It Was Like To See Herself After Mastectomy

Body acceptance can be a really tough thing for women—however, when they can, it’s one of the best feelings ever. On a recent episode of TODAY, hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager discussed Hilary Duff’s recent nude cover for Women’s Health. At 34 years old, Duff has finally accepted her body for what it is, even though it took quite a great deal of time.

The conversation quickly turned toward Hoda’s journey to feeling confident in her body. The co-host was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, having to undergo a mastectomy. After that surgery, it was really hard for her to look in a mirror—and when she did, she was “horrified.”

“You don’t realize how long the journey is,” she told Jenna Bush Hager. “I remember really clearly, after my cancer surgery — I did a surgery where it was a mastectomy, but they also did a hip-to-hip incision to do some moving things around — but anyway, I remember, afterwards, having to get washed in the hospital. I hadn’t seen (the scarring), because I just hadn’t looked at it. A nurse came in to help me and she stood me in front of the mirror, and I was horrified.”

Though the surgery was a success in it of itself, Hoda was not feeling too positive about her body anymore. In fact, she could barely believe the body was hers—even though she was cancer free, it was hard to feel happy.

“You know when you look, and you’re like, ‘That’s me now?! Like, this is the body for the rest of my life that’s going to carry me through?’” she continued. “You don’t see it as: The cancer is gone. Right then, that moment, you see it as this horrible (thing).”

There was even a point she thought she’d never feel good about her body ever again. “You don’t think that you’ll ever feel good about yourself, because you’re always going to be hiding, hiding, hiding, hiding,” she said.

So what helped her feel okay again? Hoda distinctly remembers the woman—an “aunt of a friend”—who did it for her. “Her name was Harriet. And she said to me, ‘Let me see your scar. I had the same,’” she said.

Hoda really hadn’t shown the scar to anyone—but when this woman showed Hoda her own scars, she realized that it was really nothing to feel ashamed of. “I remember I did it, and she goes, ‘Now is that so bad?’” she said. “It was a very poignant and moving moment for me. It was a life-changer.”

She also says the man she was dating at the time made her feel really beautiful, depite her scars, and that helped, too.

So how is Hoda feeling about her scars now? Watch the video below for the full dialogue.

Do you know anyone who struggles with body positivity? What are some tips you might share with them?