#MondayMotivation: Our Woman of the Week is Jane Fonda!


Every Monday, Culturess chooses one woman in pop culture to be our Woman of the Week.  These women inspire and empower us to kick ass, take names, fight the good fight, and live our best lives.  Today, our Woman of the Week is Jane Fonda!

Jane Fonda has had such a long and prolific career that how you think of her depends on how old you are. If you grew up in the ‘60s, your image of Fonda is probably the scantily clad space-badass Barbarella. If were around in the ‘80s, you definitely remember her famous workout videos. And now, of course, we all tune in to Netflix for her turn as Lily Tomlin’s foil on Grace and Frankie. No matter what generation you’re a part of, Jane Fonda has always been a strong, empowering role model.

Her work in many iconic films, including On Golden Pond and 9 to 5, has earned her two Oscars out of seven nominations. But after her first Academy Award win for Klute in 1971, Fonda did not make a commercially successful movie for seven years. This was partially because Fonda became an outspoken activist against the Vietnam War. Fonda prioritized standing up for what is right over her career.

It is ironic, then, that her second Academy Award was for the movie Coming Home, a deeply unsettling portrayal of Vietnam veterans returning to civilian life.

Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie, Image via Netflix

Despite that setback, Fonda has never stopped speaking out about injustices and social issues.  Just this week, Net-A-Porter’s online magazine The Edit published an honest and moving interview Fonda had with fellow actress and activist Brie Larson. Fonda opened up in the interview about her experiences with sexual assault and how she became a feminist. Fonda told The Edit,

"“To show you the extent to which the patriarchy takes a toll on females; I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing.”"

Fonda’s legacy of acting and activism is astounding in itself. But the thing I admire most about her is that she is still going, at 79 years old. The erasure of older women in the entertainment industry is a huge problem. When only young women are represented on screen, it reinforces the false idea that older women don’t have worthwhile stories. But Fonda wrote even in her 40s about giving older women a voice in the media. In the same The Edit interview as above, Fonda states,

"“I left the business for 15 years and thought, “That’s one thing I’ll never accomplish.” Then I came back with [2005 comedy] Monster-in-Law, and, in time, got offered this part in [Netflix Original series] Grace and Frankie and thought, “It’s happened. We’re giving a face to aging women.” People think of age as an arch: you’re born, you reach midlife, then you decline into decrepitude. But instead of being an arch, aging can be a stairway leading upward, where the older you get, the more you can evolve and become an authentic person.”"

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Jane Fonda has been leading the charge for empowering women since she was in her 20s. And now, in her 70s, she’s become even more of an incredible role model. Through her acting work, she inspires other women to be strong and go after what they want. She always stands up for what she believes in, regardless of the consequences. And she is helping to create a culture in which the stories of older women are as valuable as anyone else’s. She has always been amazing. But considering all she’s done now, she’s an all-around queen.

Thank you so much, Jane Fonda!

This week, channel the spirit of Jane and embrace your own strength. Stand up for yourself, or for someone else – just like Jane Fonda would!

Next: #MondayMotivation: Our Woman of the Week is Danielle Brooks!

You can find Jane Fonda’s work here:

Grace and Frankie: Fonda’s Netflix show is about to go into its third season on March 24!  You can watch the first two now on Netflix.

My Life So Far: You can find Fonda’s 2005 memoir on Amazon or at other booksellers!

Our Souls at Night: In Fonda’s latest movie, she stars as the protagonist Addie, rather than a mother or grandmother! It’s currently in post-production, but you can keep updated on when it will premiere through its IMDb page!