Jane Fonda Talks Menopause
I saw American film actress, Jane Fonda, on the Katie Couric Show recently. Say what you will about her politics – and she and I are definitely not on the same page – but I love this woman. She’s an icon in my view, and I have enormous respect for her.
She will be 75 years old on December 21st. She’s only 5 years younger than my own mother, but she could easily pass for 20 years younger. She’s fit, she’s healthy, and most importantly, she finally loves herself.
In spite of her wealth, her privilege, her fame, and her professional successes (two Oscars©), she has not had an easy life. She has had tremendous struggles and pain, which she has talked openly and honestly about for many years.
At the vulnerable age of 12, she lost her mother to suicide. Her father, the late actor, Henry Fonda, himself an American icon and film legend, was emotionally distant, and very unloving toward her as a young child and woman, which she has said profoundly damaged and scarred her emotionally.
She’s been married and divorced three times, and has endured the scornful disdain of American military veterans for decades because of her traitorous actions during the Vietnam War, which also earned her the moniker “Hanoi Jane.” Actions which, by the way, she has publically, and quite earnestly, apologized for many times over the years. Perhaps this is why I respect her so much. She’s deeply flawed – like the rest of us. But, she doesn’t hide behind a pretentious façade of “having it all, therefore, I’m always happy.”
She definitely hasn’t’ been.
During the course of the interview she also mentioned menopause, and how it affected her life. She talked about the change in estrogen levels in relation to testosterone, and how the relative rise of testosterone renders women far more confident, sure-footed (my word), and unafraid. She said that since she has reached menopause and her post-menopause years, she is unapologetic for who she is, and no longer feels compelled to seek the approval of others.
I loved it, because it’s true.
The transition of perimenopause into menopause is a bumpy ride. Let’s just call it the way it is. It turns your life upside down and inside out. It’s not just about physical changes either. It’s psychological, emotional, and spiritual, too. A lot of women grieve over the loss of their fertility, their youth, and a self-image that is no longer relevant going forward.
In fact, redefinition of self is fundamental in menopause, and there’s not a woman I know who escapes it. So don’t try. It’s far better to embrace it. If you do, I won’t guarantee that you will look as fabulous as Jane Fonda does in her post-menopause years. But, I can tell you that embracing it will definitely lay the foundation for a fabulous attitude, where you’re not apologizing or seeking the approval of others either! I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that over eternal youth any day.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.