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Why Jane Fonda is such an inspiration

Whether it's acting, activism or fitness, the 83-year-old is still going strong.

Jane Fonda is set to receive the lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes on February 28. The Cecil B. DeMille Award celebrates excellence in film and TV.

Fonda’s on-screen career began in 1960, and in the six decades since, she’s starred in sci-fi film Barbarella, murder mystery Klute, and more recently, TV series Grace And Frankie. As well as a wide-ranging acting career, Fonda has been a strong activist for causes including racial equality and environmentalism, and in recent years has helped amplify the voices of older women.

Here’s why the 83-year-old is such an inspiration…

She’s a lifelong activist

Jane Fonda campaigning against the Vietnam War in 1971

Fonda campaigning against the Vietnam War in 1971

Fonda has dedicated much of her life to activism. In the 1960s she campaigned for racial equality, and became a strong – and arguably controversial – voice in the anti-Vietnam War movement, earning herself the nickname ‘Hanoi Jane’. Other causes she’s thrown her weight behind include Native American rights and opposition to the Iraq War.

 

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Fonda has also dedicates energy to fighting the climate crisis. In 2019 she started Fire Drill Fridays – weekly demonstrations inspired by Greta Thunberg, calling for action on climate change. While the pandemic may have stopped in-person protests, she’s taken Fire Drill Fridays online and used her platform to interview changemakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Fonda published What Can I Do?: The Truth About Climate Change And How To Fix It in 2020, which traces her journey as an activist and covers the global crisis we’re facing.

She got everyone moving

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While Fonda is first and foremost an actor, in the 1980s she was widely known for her workouts. Her ballet-inspired fitness videos – complete with big hair, leg warmers and lots of Lycra – were a huge success, spearheading a craze for exercising at home.

 

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Fonda still considers fitness hugely important, “I have to keep moving, because when you get older, it’s more critical than when you’re young. You have to keep your body moving. For me, if I don’t, not only does my body begin to deteriorate, but so does my mind, and I know that I need those endorphins.” Her workouts now involve resistance bands, floor work and lots of stretching.

She’s all about embracing her age

 

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Fonda doesn’t shy away from the ageing process. She told Forbes: “We need to revise how we think of ageing. The old paradigm was: You’re born, you peak at midlife, and then you decline into decrepitude. Looking at ageing as ascending a staircase, you gain wellbeing, spirit, soul, wisdom, the ability to be truly intimate and a life with intention.”

She shows your career doesn’t have to slow down as you get older – Grace And Frankie premiered in 2015 and will soon release its seventh and final season, and in 2020 she appeared in an ad campaign for Gucci.

 

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Fonda told Vogue: “I feel very intentional about realising that it’s up to me how this last part of my life goes.”

She gives a voice to older women

 

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In Grace And Frankie, Fonda covers a whole host of ‘taboo’ issues facing older women – such as female pleasure and the realities of ageing.

She told The Hollywood Reporter: “[Our] culture doesn’t like people with wrinkles to be talking about sex. And kids don’t like to think about their parents doing it, either. But the fastest-growing demographic in the world is older women, and a lot of them are doing it very pleasurably.”

Fonda also says she hopes to inspire older people with her activism and told Harper’s Bazaar: “I wanted to show that old folks could be involved as well. I knew that people would say, ‘Well my god, she’s 82. If she can do it, why can’t I get out there?’ And it worked.”

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