In a new essay penned for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, Fonda details her unique path toward becoming a feminist, one born from being a war activist and overcoming issues with insecurity and an eating disorder, which stemmed from the previously-addressed body shaming Fonda endured via negative commentary from her father.
“I was slow getting here,” she writes, citing a journal entry from 1970 in which she wrote that she did not understand the Women’s Liberation Movement. That changed when Fonda became an anti-war activist and met a few key feminists along the way, including one unidentified feminist who gave a talk to soldiers at a Texas coffeehouse.
“The woman said that if there were true equality between women and men, it would be good for both sexes,” Fonda recalls of the talk. “‘It’s not a matter of women taking a piece of your pie, it’s about us sharing the pie and making it bigger. It’s a win-win. Boys, men, women, girls, the Earth, everything.'”
From there, Fonda began slowly identifying herself as a feminist, but it required working through her “internalized sexism.”
“When I hit adolescence and the specter of womanhood loomed, all that mattered was how I looked and fit in,” writes the actress and activist. I sort of … hollowed out. Almost everything interesting about me scooped itself out and took up residence alongside the empty, disembodied me.” Fonda admits hating her body, that she developed an eating disorder and instinctively chose to be with men who wouldn’t notice because they had their own “issues.” She writes that turning 60 finally inspired a new way of thinking.
“When I turned 60 and entered my third and final act, I decided that, no matter how scary it was, I needed to heal the wounds patriarchy had dealt me,” she says. “I didn’t want to come to the end of my life without doing all I could to become a whole, full-voiced woman.”
The Grace and Frankie star says her journey is external, internal, personal, political and about “slowly becoming the subject of my own life.”
“It took me 30 years to get it, but it’s OK to be a late bloomer as long as you don’t miss the flower show,” she concludes.