“I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered,” Jane told Harper’s Bazaar in 2011. “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.” And after her mother Frances Ford Seymour committed suicide in 1950, Jane developed bulimia.
Her dad’s attitude, she has revealed in interviews, wasn’t any help. “I grew up being told I was fat by my father,” Jane told The Daily Telegraph in May 2015. “And I wasn’t ever fat. But he had his issues. Only later could I look back and say: it had nothing to do with me.” In fact, the actress ended up fighting her eating disorder until she was 35, at which point she started to get better.
Fonda does a lot of work for feminist organizations and causes and has done all her life. In 2016 she wrote an essay for the feminist website Lenny Letter, which focused on her problems with body image. “When I hit adolescence and the specter of womanhood loomed, all that mattered was how I looked and fit in,” she recalled. “It’s hard to be embodied if you hate your body.”