Most people would say that Jane Fonda looks downright beautiful and healthy at age 73, and she’s beginning to believe them.
The actress, activist and retro workout queen best known for helping women “feel the burn” when her workout tapes hit the market in 1982 admits to a life-long struggle with body image. The Hollywood muse and liberal feminist has made no secrets about her 20-year battle with bulimia and the fact that she was unhappy with herself until the age of 50, which she blames, in part, on her upbringing according to her recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar:
I was raised in the ’50s. I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered, frankly. He was a good man, and I was mad for him, but he sent messages to me that fathers should not send: Unless you look perfect, you’re not going to be loved.
It wasn’t until Gloria Steinem told her one day, “empowerment begins in the muscles” that her life began to change, and she became the fitness fanatic we all remember.
These days Fonda admits she still struggles with her appearance, but relies on a close inner circle of friends to keep her real and honest:
My arms are thin, but I’m vain about loose flesh. And so I’m careful that what I wear will show off my best parts, which are my waist and my butt. I have people in my life who will say, ‘Honey, you’re trying too hard.’ I like being saucy, but I’m 73 and a half. I’m still trying to find my way between matronly and coltishness.
What’s great about Fonda–aside from the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention she founded, is that she views aging as a process of getting better. Her honesty puts a positive spin on the later years in life that many women dread:
Instead of viewing an arch — you rise, you peak, you decline — view it as a staircase. Your body may fall apart, but on every level that really matters, you can ascend toward enlightenment, wisdom, and authenticity. That’s what I’m going for.
Photo: Harper’s Bazaar