Jane Fonda's New Honest Approach to Beauty

Jane Fonda truly believes time builds confidence and that its passing does not scare her

Jane Fonda. Picture / Supplied.

Jane Fonda has been in the public eye all her life and at 77 still draws the spotlight. Born into a famous acting family, she hit the stage in the 1950s, then the big screen in the 60s, winning Academy Awards in the 70s for Klute and Coming Home, and picking up another five Oscar nominations over her long career. This was recognised just last year with an America Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.

Along the way, Fonda has been a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and an activist for women’s issues, made the best-selling video of all time, Jane Fonda Workout, one of a series that sold throughout the 1980s, and brought up three children.

After a 15-year break from acting and divorce from her third husband, she returned to film in 2005, and more recently to the stage and the small screen, including starring in new relationship drama Grace and Frankie on Netflix. A parallel modelling career as a senior spokesmodel for L’Oreal Paris has further kept the petite powerhouse to the fore.

Fonda’s refusal to fade to grey typifies a woman whose determination and drive have always been her calling card. It made her a natural to front L’Oreal’s latest home hair colour, Age Perfect, which is designed for use over grey hair for a more natural looking result. She chooses to remain blonde, but does so gracefully.

As an early adopter of exercise routines and, yes, the Californian recourse to appearance surgery — acknowledging she did it to add longevity to her career — Fonda now focuses more on wellbeing and has a frank, honest approach to ageing.

If I knew then, what I know now, I would have told my younger self to… 
I would tell my adolescent self to worry less about pleasing other people at the expense of myself. To not try to be what others wanted me to be and instead be true to myself.

Age to me is… 
I think age has long been seen as pathology. I see it not as pathology, but as potential. I really think ageing should be growing more self-confident, being more forgiving of yourself and others and above all staying interested and taking care of yourself. If I look good for my age it’s because I’ve stayed curious and healthy.

Over the years you have championed fitness, spoken of taking steps to maintain your appearance and are now generally seen as a great example of an active, attractive, mature woman. How does this square with how you see and feel about yourself and what are your current fitness and wellbeing regimes?
I exercise regularly because I want to keep myself looking and feeling good. It can be aerobics, dancing, or doing yoga — anything that keeps me active. A daily habit that helps me stay centred is to walk for an hour… alternating three minutes as fast as I can, followed by three minutes slower-paced, etc. I can walk right out my front door and have lovely hills that challenge me aerobically. This also helps me keep strong bones. I also meditate 45 minutes every day and I feel that helps ground me and centre me, so I can keep a good attitude.

How do you deal with both your own and public expectations of how you should appear as you age, especially being someone in the public eye?
I’m aware about the expectations of our time and my own, regarding “age”. And I do my best to take care of myself, staying active and exercising regularly. But I am not scared of age. I have never lied about it. I’m not happy about my lines, but I work to be forgiving of myself.

How do you feel about grey hair? Do you envisage ever going wholly grey?
Maybe if I was sure my real grey would be beautiful I’d stop colouring, but I think I feel more me as a blonde. It looks authentic on me and I get this flattering, golden hair colour thanks to my Excellence Age Perfect colouration.

In your biography My Life So Far you spoke of life being a series of three acts. Now that you are well into the third act, what is that Act Three like in comparison with the earlier two and how do you intend approaching the future?
One third of ageing is genetic — there isn’t much we can do about it. But that means two-thirds of how well we do in the third act, we can do something about. I think when you’re inside oldness as opposed to looking at it from the outside, it’s not so scary. You realise you’re still yourself — maybe even more so than before — and you embrace it. In my opinion, a positive attitude, including humour, gratitude, and playfulness, makes the ageing process easier.

You’ve overcome breast cancer, what did the trauma of that time teach you?
I feel very lucky and I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious. I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger, perhaps because I pay attention more.

In your show Grace & Frankie, you play a retired cosmetics mogul. If you ran a small skin care company, what products would you most like to develop?
I guess being in my 70s I would love to create and develop innovative cosmetics for all the women in their third act. Today, women are living on average 30 years longer than their great-grandmothers did. That’s also why I love being one of the “faces” acknowledging our [mature women’s] beauty concerns, lifestyles, desires and beauty expectations.

How does being a model in your 70s make you feel?
Though I don’t look my age, I am very aware of how old I am. So it feels pretty great to be a spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris which is cutting-edge and brave enough to hire someone in her 70s. I’m proud of that.

What’s your best advice on positive ageing?
Apart from exercise, I have few rituals; I slather my face every night with Age Perfect night cream then sleep eight to nine hours a night. But the real secret of anti-ageing is attitude. You stay beautiful if you stay curious, wanting to keep learning and growing.

WATCH: Jane Fona on aging and resilience:

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