Jane Fonda on overcoming bulimia: ‘With each binge, the self-loathing lasts longer’

Embed from Getty Images
Jane Fonda has been doing some in depth interviews and I don’t understand why more people aren’t into paying attention. I’m still covering her because she’s so interesting and wise, she’s laying bare her life and she’s unafraid. I hope I get to Jane’s level of bada–ery within 20 to 30 years, but even if I achieve 60% of that by the end of my life I’ll have been a wild success. Jane is promoting her HBO documentary Jane Fonda a Life in 5 Acts. In her interview with People Magazine she talked about her struggle with bulimia and the fact that she was able to quit binging and purging. She said it wasn’t easy but that she was able to do it.

“I was doing the workout before I started the business, and it gave me back a sense of control over my body,” she told PEOPLE’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle, in the most recent episode of the Jess Cagle Interview.

“The longer space you put between yourself and the addiction, the easier it gets,” she says of recovering from both bulimia and anorexia. “I started the workout, and that kind of cemented my ability to eat normal, which I can do now. Some people say you can never get over it, but you can.”

As for how she finally stopped the cycle of bingeing and purging—or simply avoiding food altogether—she says the reality was, she was getting too old to handle it.

As for how she finally stopped the cycle of bingeing and purging—or simply avoiding food altogether—she says the reality was, she was getting too old to handle it.

“As you get older, with each binge, the fatigue and the hostility and self-loathing lasts longer,” she says. “I had a husband and children and a career, and I was politically active. I couldn’t keep doing it all and allow this addiction to ruin my life. So I stopped cold turkey.”

She adds that it wasn’t easy: “Oh it was so hard,” she admits.

Fonda says she’d like others to understand that eating disorders are never actually about food. “It has to do with filling a hole,” she says. “We’re vessels that need to be full in spirits…but there are other ways to fill it.”

[From People]

It’s rare to hear someone describe eating disorders as an addictive behavior, but that makes so much sense. It’s also offers a path to quitting that many sufferers may not have considered.

Jane has done a bunch of other press this week, and I had the pleasure of watching her Colbert interview, where she discussed her activism in Vietnam (she apologized for that for the umpteenth time, don’t @ me) and the fact that all proceeds from her workout tapes went to The California Campaign for Economic Democracy, which she started with her second husband, Tom Hayden. Fonda was my age, 45, when she did her first exercise video. Holy crap that’s amazing.

Oh and here’s a link to quick Q&A she did with Marie Claire. She said the movie with the greatest ending was Get Out and that the last show she binge watched was The Good Place. Me too! That’s it, I’m going to do one of her workout videos today.



Photos credit: WENN and Getty

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

18 Responses to “Jane Fonda on overcoming bulimia: ‘With each binge, the self-loathing lasts longer’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Lala11_7 says:

    I watched a HARROWING Dutch documentary on “Amazon Prime” named “Emma wants to live” which came out in 2017…which was about an 18 year old girl who video taped her fight…and ultimately her loss with Anorexia…and she had a WHOLE support system that fought with her…and it seems that what Jane stated is so true…it’s not about food…it’s about an emptiness…and sometimes, that emptiness can’t even be translated into words, no matter HOW much of a support system you have…and THAT’S the thing that I think people don’t understand about these situations….

    Oh…and Jane Fonda…IS EVERYTHANG!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Boodiba says:

    I started working out with Jane in my 20s!! Now I’m 51 and I’ve been devoted to fitness ever since. Jane’s done all right by me for sure. Love her.

  3. SamC says:

    When I was in high school the Jane Fonda Workout was one of our options for gym period. Whenever I hear Michael Jackson’s “Can you feel it” I feel the need to stop and do a few steps of her workout, lol!

  4. Snowslow says:

    She is such an intelligent woman. Ultimately, it must have been difficult to be her: apparently her father was a very closed up person, intensely shy, even with his own children. If I recall correctly her upbringing was not the most joyful.

  5. Jess says:

    I love her and love that she’s so open and feisty.

  6. Sleanne says:

    My cousin died this summer as a result of the same eating disorder. She was weeks away from turning 24 and was a beautiful, talented dancer and artist. Even with a support system, it takes lives. It helps to have public figures talk about their struggles, for both those with the disorder and those trying to help them or even deal with a loss. It was an addiction to my cousin and she just couldn’t stop. I did find it hard to read that she stopped cold turkey, almost making it sound like a choice. Yeah, she said it was hard.. But still.

  7. lucy says:

    I’ve been battling anorexia and bulimia for the last 13 years and this gives me hope.
    I’ve recently gotten out of inpatient treatment and to be honest with you… the only thing it gave me was that I am SO tired of my eating disorder. I hate it being my identity and honestly, eating disorders are SO boring.

    She is completely right… I’m older. I’m tired. I have things in my life I want more than this addiction. It’s difficult as hell but I am trying to get myself out of it too and I believe I can do it.

    Exercise helps me, but I’m aware that can become an obsession all of its own, especially since I have to use exercise to feel ‘okay’ about eating. But I am hoping if I begin to focus on the important things in my life I will be able to leave my ED behind.

    Jane is inspiring for so many reasons and this is really something I needed to see today.

    • Kate says:

      Just wanted to say hi and thanks for sharing and I wish you strength in your fight! You absolutely can do it! I hope you have a therapist or someone who has been through this you can talk to. I saw someone downthread mention intuitive eating and I was able to overcome ED with that approach of re-learning how to eat. It was so hard b/c I had to suspend my body image concerns for a while and just focus on how to know when I’m hungry and eat what my body wants and to learn how to identify a comfortable level of satiation. Also practicing mindfulness when I ate and when I felt overwhelmed with negative emotions – just bringing myself into my body and the present and out of my head. Like Jane said, it’s very hard and not a straight road forward but you really can beat it. And learning how to be comfortable in your body as it changes over time is 200% worth it.

    • StormsMama says:

      I was bulimic from my sophomore year in high school
      Into college
      And my twentys off and on
      Until I finally quit cold turkey in my very early 30s
      But I began the work to heal myself when I was a senior in high school.
      Jane is right: you get older and the body really reels: my back would ache, my face would be puffy and my brain felt contained in styrofoam. Not to mention my heart and spirit. It was all so sad. To this day I feel like I didn’t really have a real high school experience: it was stolen from me by the eating disorder that controlled me and made me a shell and a miserable sad uncomfortable girl where a beautiful brave strong spirited kid had been
      Now I’m older and have about 10 years distance from it. Plus two kids.
      Perhaps the biggest things that helped me (other than what Kate mentioned above ) was reading. And avoiding advertising, especially on tv. The big food industry is decidedly inconvenient and unhealthy. Avoid anything packaged initially.
      But mostly as Jane said, you get too old to keep beating yourself up. For what?!

      I wouldn’t wish this hell on my worst enemies. I really loathe that bulimia stole so much time and energy from me. The secrecy. The shame. The loathing. Ugh.
      If you still have this please please please
      See a therapist (if you can afford one) or more importantly create new rituals!! Get rid of “trigger” foods. I couldn’t eat ice cream or peanut butter for YEARS but now I’m fine. It IS possible. Just be kind to yourself. Keep a journal. Make short term and long term goals. Do charity work. I worked for a quadrapalegic and he was so inspiring. It really helps but things in perspective to realize your body is YOUR ONLY VESSEL. IT IS YOUR TEMPLE. BE KIND TO YOU. don’t let the bastards bring you down. And get help!!!

  8. outoftheshadows says:

    If anyone is reading this and struggling with an eating disorder, there is a special branch of AA called Overeaters Anonymous that can be very helpful. I know not everyone likes twelve-step programs, so if it isn’t for you, you can stop reading–but I know that being in a room full of people who are recovering from eating disorders can be helpful–and the name can be misleading. My understanding is that people with bulimia and anorexia are included in the meetings–not just people who overeat. I’ve been stunned in the course of my life to realize that I had 3 roommates, numerous friends, and a partner with eating disorders–they can be so secretive about it that you really don’t see it happening. Thankfully all of them have recovered. It does help to have support, and treating it as an addiction takes away some of the guilt (which can cause even further destructive behavior.) OA is just one way to deal with it–but it can be really helpful to some people.

    • Tweetime says:

      Thanks for sharing resources 🙂

      The only thing I’ll add is that OA has shifted over the years to have more fatphobic content, which can make it dangerous for those with ED. I really encourage people to look into therapy and counselling programs that have a weight-neutral, intuitive eating focus.

      • outoftheshadows says:

        Good to know. I don’t attend myself… just know people who do, and of course that kind of nuance doesn’t get passed on second-hand.

    • Tweetime says:

      For sure! We’re all doing our best to help 💜
      Thanks for responding so nicely

      • outoftheshadows says:

        You too–of course it is all meant to be helpful, but it’s especially nice to have that recognized even if everyone’s experience isn’t the same.

  9. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    I love it when famous people share their life & issues. Love Jane. I used to do her exercise tape when I was a kid lol- yeah, my family was obsessed with looks & being thin 🙄

    Okay – a book to read where a celeb spills all her secrets is a new one by comedian/writer Whitney Cummings. I’m 75% done – afterward, I’m going to tweet her & thank her. She’s been diagnosed with many of the same wacky illnesses I have. She shares her struggles & exactly how she’s trying to conquer them – she did already overcome anorexia. I think the title is: I’m Fine, Really…and it’s her smiling face on the cover while water is rising up to her chin. She has been through so much, and I like that she has new ways of dealing.

    Jane Fonda – back to her. Love her. I want to watch the doc

  10. Mel says:

    I have been battling bulimia for over 15 years now and she is right, it’s an addiction.
    I’ve noticed that I tend to have an addictive personality. I go to extremes.
    When my eating disorder is under control it’s because I’m actually extremely focused (i.e. obsessed with) having a balanced diet, or I’m working out like crazy.
    Even for simple things like a song that I like, I will listen to it over and over until I’m sick of it. I have a hard time doing things in moderation.
    She’s also right about one thing: as you get older, it’s just exhausting.
    I’ve done irreversible things to my body that I now have to accept and try to compensate.
    The feeling of euphoria is loong gone. That ship has sailed a while ago. It’s more that, it’s part of who I am and if you take that away from me, I don’t know what is left.
    One thing is sure is that, even though it’s not about food, I will never have a healthy relationship with it.
    I’m glad she’s speaking out because maybe it will help people understand and/or come forward if they need help.

  11. Kayla says:

    Celebitchy – if you love Jane Fonda you should listen to the ‘You Must Remember This’ podcast season about her and Jean Seberg. It was so detailed and insightful into the world of these incredible women.