Jane Fonda Gets Real About The Root Of Her Teenage Eating Disorder In A Poignant Essay For Lenny Letter
Jane Fonda is a very strong, influential, and complicated woman.
In an emotional essay for Lenny Letter, Fonda spoke out on how her teenage eating disorder contributed to her feminism and activism. The message was as sad as it was enlightening for readers of Lena Dunham's up and coming newsletter.
For those who don't know, the exercise guru comes from a pretty dark childhood — not only did her mother Frances Ford Seymour commit suicide when Jane was just a young girl, but she also allegedly suffered emotional abuse at the hands of her step-mother Susan Blanchard and her father Henry Fonda.
According to Ms. Fonda, Susan (who is eleven years YOUNGER than the actress), would tell her that she was too fat and needed to lose weight if she ever wanted a boyfriend. To make matters worse, these messages echoed the sentiments of her father, a blow that was very difficult to handle.
The activist recalled the painful memories, revealing:
"When I hit adolescence and the specter of womanhood loomed, all that mattered was how I looked and fit in. My father would send my stepmother to tell me to lose weight and wear longer skirts. One of my stepmothers told me all the ways I'd have to change physically if I wanted a boyfriend. Meanwhile, I sort of … hollowed out. Almost everything interesting about me scooped itself out and took up residence alongside the empty, disembodied me."
Ugh. How horrific and detrimental to poor Jane's psyche!
The beauty added:
"It's hard to be embodied if you hate your body. Like three of my father's five wives, I developed an eating disorder (probably to fill the emptiness), and given that it was, at least partially, an inauthentic me that I presented to the world, I instinctively chose men who would never notice because of their own addictions and "issues." Ah, but they were interesting, charismatic, alpha men, and they validated me."
Despite all the inner-turmoil J.F. faced, she was able to use this pain to propel her into activism. While the momma originally focused her energies on politics, she slowly shifted her view towards women's rights and finally found her confidence:
"For me to really confront sexism would have required doing something about my relationships with men, and I couldn't. That was too scary. It would have been like stepping off a cliff without knowing if there was a trampoline below. When I turned 60 and entered my third and final act, I decided that, no matter how scary it was, I needed to heal the wounds patriarchy had dealt me. I didn't want to come to the end of my life without doing all I could to become a whole, full-voiced woman."
Well, better late than never! It's just impressive to hear a woman who found strength in pain!
You can read Jane's full essay HERE.
[Image via WENN.]