Poor Jane Fonda. Poor Us.

Jane Fonda just got plastic surgery, and on one level that’s her business, but on another level, it’s stunningly dishonest. This beautiful, accomplished, generous, funny, vibrant, worldly woman couldn’t come out with a book about aging without first getting plastic surgery?

This bums me out. It’s cynical, it’s fake, and it misses an opportunity to advance our culture.

Jane Fonda might agree with me. Here’s her comment on the issue:

“I caved,” she said during an interview with Larry King. “If I was really brave, I would have not. I vowed I wouldn’t — I did, and I don’t feel proud of it. I didn’t want to look kind of tired and jowly any more.”

I wish Jane Fonda had written a book about being “really brave.” I’d love to watch her model an example of how to be a strong, mature woman who refuses to apologize for her age.

I would like to start a movement in which we model that example for each other, and for our kids. Here’s the basic tenet of our movement: younger women typically look one way, and older women typically look another, and it’s all good.

It’s a new day, Jane. I’m sorry you caved, but if you’d like to read something truly helpful and motivating, check out these books:

Kindle readers can email me at Lmspreen@yahoo.com.


  1. says

    That’s a good point, Rae. The photographer is the artist who sees the scene and captures it, no small feat. In Jane’s case, you make the connection clearer than I did. Thanks.

  2. Rae says

    Using the example of your skills as a photographer and having others develop your work is comparing apples to oranges….

    What has most likely brought you success is your expertise in capturing a particular moment, having a keen eye for what interests people, etc… I doubt your potential clients care who develops it.

    When I purchase an exercise video and see a photo of a slim and trim individual, I want to believe that she got that wonderful body because of the workouts she was promoting in the video.

    I can understand her having a facelift, there is no exercise that corrects that area. If she has had “other work” done, I feel she is not being honest with her potential customers.
    Best to you,

  3. Fayeroe says

    Wow! I do not feel in any way that I have the right to criticize Ms. Fonda. What she does with her face doesn’t impact me in any form or fashion. I admire her big heart (think of what she has done in Atlanta for girls) and I admire her work ethic and her commitment to living a caring and loving life.

    I’m stunned at how many people here feel “betrayed” or “lied to” by Ms. Fonda. She is a celebrity. She is a product and she has never, ever denied her place in the Hollywood “production” arena.

    I am a very good photographer. I don’t think a client would think less of me if they learned that I DO NOT develop my own film. I never have mastered that skill and I pay someone else to do it. I took the photograph and I print the photograph. I deliver what I promise. I believe that Ms. Fonda does the same.

    And I have only seen one of Ms. Fonda’s films. “On Golden Pond”.

    • says

      Hi, Fayeroe, nice to see you here at AST. I agree that Fonda has done so much. I read her book and understand how much she has evolved and even suffered. What I felt disappointed about (for me and for her) is that she felt she couldn’t sell those new DVDs without getting SURGERY on that face, first. Instead, she missed a chance to really stand out, try something new, inspire millions with the message that we middle-agers don’t have to look twenty to have a rip-roaring fab impression of ourselves. I don’t want you to think I don’t respect Jane Fonda. I do, for all the reasons you mentioned. But she is missing the boat, as more of us square our shoulders and say, “I’m 50 (or 60,70,80, or 90) and I’m not going to disrespect myself by trying to look 20. I’m fab right now.” Thanks for weighing in, and I hope you’ll stop by again.

  4. says

    Thank you, Lynne, for writing a comment on my Lear’s Magazine post – and I’m delighted you shared your blog. I am now a devoted reader. In appreciation of your thoughtful study of Jane Fonda’s new look, I celebrated by giving a nosejob to my profile picture. No anesthesia, no recovery, but I did miss the time off and the pain pills just a touch. Cheers!

    • says

      You crack me up, Linda! When I first learned how to play with Photoshop, of course I went right to work on my bustline. I loved seeing your reference to Lear’s. I miss that old rag. Such class.

  5. says

    Another great discussion on a topic that I’m passionate about. I think we may under-estimate the risks of cosmetic plastic surgery. Try Goggling “cosmetic surgery gone bad” to see what I mean. Even when it “works” it often looks quite unnatural.

    The bigger issue is the expectation or pressure many women feel to look young–even hot–into their 40s, 50s, 60s, and so on. Looking one’s age is equated with letting one’s self go which is ridiculous. All the focus on anti-aging is ridiculous. This needs to change. How do we make that happen? Is it by individual example alone?

    • says

      I guess so! I don’t see the media trumpeting the coolness of a 70-year old who looks 70. So I guess it’s up to us, but we’ve been here before, right?

      Maybe we could try practicing “laissez faire” – live and let live. We don’t measure ourselves by an age standard. Period. Whew, how weird would that be? And what a relief!!!!

      And yes, it would have to be on an individual basis, but I’m going to be talking about it every chance I get, and maybe others will too, because we’ve come too far to slip backwards. And right now, I feel like I’m living in junior high!

  6. Rae says

    I’ve “waffled” on this topic too many times haha! ….Another thought~ Having plastic surgery and then promoting an exercise video is DECEPTIVE MARKETING at the very least..your original thought Lynne about her dishonesty is so true. I guess we just have to “weed out” the dishonest ones and as you say, “we smart ones of a certain age” can show our clout by spending our dollars on something that truly has merit!

  7. says

    So what can we do to change things? If we want to give our daughters the gift of self-acceptance then we need to model it by shying away from the pressure to “fix” ourselves. I said in the above post that we could, ideally, get to a place where older women look one way, and younger women another, and it’s all good. We might start by celebrating that which we love about being older, and I’ll start a post tomorrow on that subject. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Nanci says

    So, I am trying to understand. Is it harmful to apply blush to unnaturally enhance your looks, or wear a push up bra to put your breast in an unnatural position… heels to make your legs longer and leaner?
    Are we talking about a matter of degree? Setting a limit?

  9. says

    Lynne, I so agree with you. I hate that these women feel so much pressure to cut into themselves and their bodies to appear plastic. It’s not like they even look good like that. Our culture is so vanity-driven it’s pathetic. Can I join your movement?

    • says

      Responding to Nanci’s comment, there is harm in slicing and botoxing and stretching for perfection that is unachievable in a natural sense. All these women are doing it not for themselves, but because of societal pressure stemming from the media, their jobs as actresses or public figures. If it wasn’t in place, these beautiful and strong women would not have done it.

      Just adding my two cents…

  10. says

    Great points. Yes, I see the hypocricy of my statement, but I’m still rolling this idea around in my head, so bear with me. Here’s what I was trying to say: that it harms us if that’s all we see lifted up as an example of how we, ideally, should look. If, as Jane said, “jowly” is bad, for example, then we either cut off our jowls or dislike our face for having them. But “jowly” is normal for us at our age! What if our culture decried the cutting and sewing of a healthy face? It’s considered bad form to criticize a woman for this choice, and in a sense I understand that, but in my opinion it’s tragic that we become acculturated to desire it. Jane looks in the mirror and says, “I look better”, but I believe that what she is really saying is “I am in compliance. Therefore I feel better about my appearance.”

  11. Nanci says

    I miss you too and would love to be having this discussion in person…wrinkles and all (-:
    However, I am trying to get to the meat of your thoughts.
    I saw the Oprah thing too and she is really open, honest and real, but how is being injected with a toxic substance different from other forms of cosmetic enhancement? I don’t get it. Is it upsetting that Jane has a fabulous and young figure rather than the soft womanly thing O has going?
    Looking at Jane’s real pics shows that she still has a more mature look. Have you seen the airbrushed cover pics of O? She surely can’t look that young without enhancement…and does all this really matter?
    I.ve got this Zenish “Do no harm ” thing going on and I just don’t see the harm… We are not talking about impressionable youngsters starving to model bodies, we’re talking about mature women making decisions about their own bodies.

  12. says

    You know what, ladies? I’m watching that Barbara Walters special where she interviewed Oprah a few nights ago (http://abc.go.com/watch/abc-news-specials/SH559036/VD55101804/a-barbara-walters-special-oprah-the-next-chapter), and I’m seeing that Oprah doesn’t try to look young. She looks like she does a little Botox, and she does the makeup and hair, but the rest of her is regular middle-aged woman. I’m thinking she could be a model for how to look your best but still not apologizing for your age.

  13. Nanci says

    I’m afraid I don’t “get” the dishonest part. She has a fabulous body, and I think it’s her own… not enhanced by tummy tucks etc. (not sure if she still has the breast implants) . It’s the exercise that she is selling, not the face. On top of that she has admitted to having the work done. I think that is brave. It opens her up for all sorts of discourse, including ours.
    I don’t know what her motivation was, perhaps one day she just looked at herself and said, I don’t like this and I can do something about it….
    It is tragic and funny in a way that cultures throughout history have valued feminine beauty over substance. Perhaps a more enlightened age will change that. Til then, it is what it is. We are all part of it.

    • Annah says

      Nanci, I’m with you. I don’t see anything dishonest about having her face “done” when it’s exercise she’s selling, especially when she’s admitting to it and calling herself out for it. As you said before, it’s a continuum — who’s to say who’s cheating or being dishonest by taking any number of measures to look your best. Is laser skin resurfacing cheating? Is hair color dishonest? Where’s the line? Lynne, you yourself used the word “beautiful” as the first in a list of adjectives for Jane; we’re all part of the pressure. On the other hand, I admire your resolve to never again remark on someone looking old; it makes me realize just how often I make that awful remark myself — especially about myself.

    • says

      Exactly, Nanci – I want to bring about that “more enlightened age”! I don’t want to be “part of it.” Is that so naive of me? I have said that my New Year’s Resolution is to never again say that a person “looks old”, unless I mean it as a compliment. You say “it is what it is” but we could change that.

      Yes, I agree, throughout the ages, firm skin and perky breasts have been revered (by male-dominated cultures) but what if we started talking about all the things that age GIVES us? What if it gave us freedom from trying to look young? What a joy that would be, to be proud of our age. I’m so excited about this.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I remember our impassioned discussions back at Jurupa Unified. I miss that, and I miss you.

  14. says

    I think I see where you’re going here, Lynne. How tragic that our culture emphasizes outward beauty and youth so much that someone like Jane would bow to the pressure and undergo plastic surgery before putting her photo on an exercise book. Yes, by her own admission, it’s “caving.” I can understand her desire not to “look jowly any more,” but you’re right — it’s dishonest!

  15. says

    I agree with all you wrote ~ in theory. But any woman who’s aged a bit knows how difficult seeing the changes in the mirror really are. Can you imagine how difficult it is for a woman like Jane who has always had the beauty think lurking not so deeply under all her passionate causes? Thank goodness, she’s still in the public eye and not hiding somewhere. She’s one of the women I love to watch. I feel for her. I feel for all of us. Things need to change but reality is tough.

    • says

      You’re so compassionate, Jamie. For Jane, a person in the public eye, there is nothing more important to the media, it seems, than how they look. And I agree with Nanci, that it must be horrible to be judged constantly in that way. I may not be able to change the world, but I can change myself. For my New Year’s Resolution, I vow to never again remark that a person looks “old” unless I mean it as a compliment.

  16. Rae says

    I understand your point..FINALLY…it’s about being honest with who we are, back to the point about making money..that is what it is about…YES, her comments are NOT honest!!! THANK YOU ! for getting past the “cobwebs”!!! AGAIN, I appreciate your comments!

  17. says

    No, Nanci, don’t worry – I don’t want everybody to agree with me, and I value all of the opinions I see here! But maybe I didn’t make my point clear, so forgive me but I’ll restate it: she’s being dishonest to get plastic surgery and then modeling this artificially enhanced body on the cover of her DVD to sell the benefits of exercise. It’d be like a woman getting a boob job and then hawking a breast enhancement cream.

    And secondly, I hunger for examples of women who don’t feel so compelled about their appearance, because I think appearance is a red herring, as I believe it represents lack of acceptance of age. This is disappointing to me, when I see it manifested by such a successful person as Jane Fonda. Thanks for weighing in, Nanci.

  18. Nanci says

    Hi Lynne,
    I love you and I value your opinion, but I don’t necessarily agree with you on this one.
    Our whole lives we do things to make ourselves more attractive, makeup, cute clothes, diet, shaving legs and underarms,push up bras, anti-age creams, botox… the list goes on. Plastic surgery is more expensive and dangerous, but I see it as just another step. If it makes someone feel better about themselves then it’s the right thing for them. I don’t see it as a cop out… Indulgent, self centered, maybe, just like everything else in that list, but unless we are all willing to go au natural I can’t condemn someone for taking any step that works for them.
    Jane Fonda and other celebrities are in the public eye and are commented upon constantly. I am glad that I don’t have that kind of pressure to be a certain way.

  19. says

    Annah, I have a couple of vertical lines between my eyebrows, and I used to get Botox to make them go away. I’m kind of an intense person, and I think it makes me look even more that way – don’t want to scare little kids. But most of the time I’m so busy I forget about it. Thanks for commenting.

  20. Annah says

    I love Jane Fonda — she’s done it her way all along, even if in hindsight she might have done it differently. I get what she’s saying: “I didn’t want to look kind of tired and jowly any more.” I don’t want to ever get any “work” done either, but it’s tough looking tired when you’re not. I’m not tired! I’m just tired of looking tired.
    I can see how people would see it as pure vanity, wanting to stop the clock, wanting to be young again. But I don’t want to be younger or even look younger — I just don’t want to look perpetually exhausted and angry when my face is at rest.
    That being said, I will probably never get any work done — for me, it’s too expensive, too risky, too self-indulgent. But I won’t blame others for caving.

  21. says

    I totally agree with you Lynne! I think women who age naturally are so beautiful! I love my hair turning gray and my laugh lines…if I ever even think of doing something so extreme I give you permission to shoot me!

    • says

      Tammy, by any standard, you are beautiful! You’re curious, smart, happy, loving, athletic, giving, and cheerful. I’ve got pix from our wine-tasting day! I’ll send them.


    She could take a lesson from Diana Nyad….training for her Florida to Cuba Swim @ 61 years old….modeling a normal bathing suit and giving daily fitness tips for women!

  23. says

    Hey Lynne,

    I think what I like about Jane the most is not that she looks great at 72, plastic surgery or not, it’s that she’s passionate about whatever is important to her at the time. She’s screwed up a lot in her life – the whole Hanoi Jane era, the unconventional life with Tom Hayden, and all the other controlling men she’ been with, the work-out videos – but at the time, she was very passionate about it and thought it was the right thing to do.

    And even though she says can finally live without a man, I don’t think she can. And I know she’d like to think she’s going to age gracefully like most of us, I don’t think she can do that either. She still a little girl inside so she couldn’t never write a book about being brave.

    I respect your opinion, Lynne, and I have more to say but I think it’s turning into a blog post of my own. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    Anyway –

  24. Rae says

    NOT TO DIMINISH those who are of a different mindset!… the idea that we can all have a different theory/thought process and flourish is a good thing!!

  25. Rae says

    Jane Fonda was most likely motivated by money. We all know (of course) that beauty is only skin deep.
    Many women are inspired by others drive to accomplish.
    Not wanting to lead “the cookie cutter life” of older women, myself, I would not critique someone who’s philosophies are different than mine.


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