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Felice Shapiro

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I Have A Crush on Jane Fonda

Posted: 04/24/2012 2:23 pm

SPECIAL FROM BetterAfter50

I think my girl-crush on Jane Fonda started when I saw her in the movie "Coming Home." Even my late husband Alan agreed with me that Jane's performance was something special. Needless to say, before that he went gaga over her in "Barbarella." True, she was a bombshell (still is, as a matter of fact!) who became a great actress. But it was when she moved beyond the screen and began using her fame as a platform for politics that her true celebrity shined through. True, I was just a young teenager, but the way Jane Fonda spoke about the Vietnam War was powerful, exhilarating and risky.

As the years went by, Jane continued to grow in ways that aligned with my own growth. She showed up on the exercise mat when I was just crawling onto it for the first time in my 20's. Butt squeezes and "Feeling the Burn" were Jane Fonda moves that inspired a generation of women. She wasn't afraid to wear a leotard up to there. Nor was she afraid to remind women that their tight bodies wouldn't last forever. Her motto was to work it till it really hurt. The pain is real. But the pain will get you to where you need to be. A hard reality that I've appreciated.

I even loved her complicated family relationships. I knew her mother had died when Jane was young, her interactions with her siblings were strained, and that she had a tumultuous relationship with her father, Henry. But watching the two of them together in "On Golden Pond" was priceless. I wanted to jump through the screen and hug them and let them know their reconciliation in so public a venue was praiseworthy. "I believe in you," I wanted to shout from my movie theater seat. "You go girl!"

Then Jane married Ted and I lost track of her. That was her "arm candy" period and I was too busy raising my family to notice her comings and goings. After all, once a feminist, always a feminist and I knew she'd rally, which she did when she finally divorced Ted.

She emerged again for me - and I believe for post 50s in a significant way -- most recently at the Tedxwomen event in New York this past December. The moment she took the stage my adrenaline started pumping. Seventy-four-years old -- did they say 74? I couldn't believe it. Despite all she's been through -- three divorces, her mother's suicide, and the unrealistic demands of Hollywood -- she looked terrific. In fact she was better than terrific.

I don't care if she had work done; she has proven to me (and other post 50s) that real beauty comes from the lines on our faces, the wisdom we have accrued, the journeys we have taken, and the paths we have forged. I think her authenticity and strength is what makes her look like a crystal of grounded energy with a field that radiates, inspires and makes people want to listen.

I particularly admire the way she sees her life as a series of three acts (each 30 years long) and says this third act will be her most significant. Why don't we all think this way? We have so much to teach, so much to impart, so much still to do. Age is not an excuse to slow down, but a mandate to move forward.

Here is a link to her talk at Tedxwomen. It's impossible to watch without coming away without feeling pumped and positive about this next stage.

Jane Fonda's third act is marked by grace and wisdom. When she took the stage at the Golden Globes this past January, I gasped. That dress, that timeless look, that body...toned, elegant, athletic and ageless.

Is it any wonder I'm in love with her?

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