Jane Fonda on what she’d tell her younger self: ‘No is a complete answer’

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Jane Fonda has a recent interview with Byrdie.com to promote her partnership with a CBD company called Uncle Bud’s, which is a clever brand name. (I found it when I was searching for advice on how to do an at-home facial.) Jane of course mentions their products, which including vaping pens and pain relief gel, and she also talks about her activism, including climate advocacy and the Black Lives Matter movement. She also covers ageism and why staying in shape is important to her. I didn’t realize that she still does the same moves from her Jane Fonda workout tapes, but she does, just slower. She had great advice for her younger self too.

On how this movement is different
This moment is different. First of all, the climate crisis poses an existential threat to humankind that has never happened before and we have a very short span of time—10 years, the scientists say—to cut fossil fuel emissions in half before we reach the tipping point when ecosystems will begin to unravel beyond our control. Climate activists have done a good job awakening the country to the grave danger. Even the usually neutral scientists are crying out for us to wake up and we have. The Movement for Black Lives, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, has been successful in welcoming wildly diverse people to their protests and the world is finally listening and waking up in a way that hasn’t before. I feel real change is coming. That coupled with the pandemic has exposed the profound systemic inequality that has existed for long time in this country and it’s really hitting people—some for the first time.

On how her relationship with her body has changed
Well, I still want to stay fit. I’m not buying new clothes anymore, so I have to be able to fit into the same clothes I’ve worn for years. So while I’m way more forgiving than when I was younger, I like to feel good about my body. Things are tighter than usual but I’m not obsessing the way I used to.

How she exercises now
Many of the same moves from the Jane Fonda Workout but done sloooooowly. ‘Slow down’ is the mantra for older folks, but it’s really important to keep moving and active when you’re older.

I exercise, walk, meditate and read a lot. And I sleep at least eight to nine hours a night. If I don’t sleep, I can’t function at my best so sleep is very important to me.

“What do you wish you could tell your younger self?”
I’d tell myself that “no” is a complete answer.

[From Byrdie.com]

I love what she said about how she is not buying new clothes and has to fit into the same clothes, but that she’s trying to go easier on herself than in the past. I’ve been covering Jane’s interviews for years and I can relate so much to her body image issues. That’s how I’ve been trying to deal with pandemic weight gain – by reasoning that my clothes still fit and that I don’t need to beat myself up over a few pounds.

Also, my mom has been telling me for years that I never need to explain myself! Pre-pandemic, I would always give excuses when I turned down invitations. My mom says I don’t owe that to anyone and that I should just say “no.” It’s easier now because anyone who doesn’t understand why I don’t want to hang out is willfully obtuse and reckless. They’re also putting their life at risk.

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25 Responses to “Jane Fonda on what she’d tell her younger self: ‘No is a complete answer’”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    I just love her. She is a national treasure.

    • TeamMeg says:

      💯 And her gray hair looks FABULOUS!!

      I still do the same moves from my old Jane Fonda Workout cassette, too! Been doing them since the 80’s and of course know them by heart now, thank goodness b/c I don’t have a functioning cassette player anymore, although I heard cassette tapes are making a comeback, so fingers crossed!

      • Lady D says:

        I’ve been using her tape off and on since the mid-80’s too. I found it again last year on Amazon on DVD. It was nine bucks.

      • E.D. says:

        I’ve been in lockdown since the end of March and put on a lot of weight in the first 3 months. After mentioning I had to do something about the excess weight a fiend sent me a link to all the Jane Fonda Walkout videos on YouTube and they have been my saving grace.
        She is so quirky and fun so now I make sure I get my daily dose of ‘Jane’ and I feel so much better!

  2. Scollins says:

    Same! It’s so liberating! I can’t believe it took me so long to learn that. I learned when I led a particularly difficult team. Besides simply saying no I also learned to diplomatically refuse to listen to excuses.

  3. Mireille says:

    Needless to say Jane is a smart, savvy badass activist. And not for nothing but those Jane Fonda workouts are pretty hardcore. It’s amazing she stills keeps it up.

  4. Feebee says:

    She’s awesome. I’m just starting to take her younger self advice and hopefully one day soon the other bits.

  5. Alexandria says:

    She is so right about the no. And I’m just learning not to say sorry so much now. Especially for females, we are conditioned to be nice, to please, to conform. And sometimes it is subtlely ingrained. The other day, I came across a TikTok that asked you to observe how many times you tend to be the one who moved to give way, when a man and yourself are coming into opposite directions. I thought about that.

    • Scollins says:

      Yes yes yes, we are.

    • Anna says:

      Yeah about that giving way…when I first moved to the city I live now, walking home one night on a supposedly safe residential block, I didn’t move out of the way fast enough and the man beat me up on the sidewalk. Took a self-defense workshop and six months of sleeping with a crowbar and a doll my mother made me (and I was in my 30s) to be able to sleep again. It was very clear from how he moved and looked at me just beforehand that I had not moved far enough out of the way for him quickly enough.

      • Noodle says:

        @Anna, how awful for you. Are you okay now? That kind of situation isn’t just something you get over quickly.

  6. Slowdown says:

    LOVE that she’s not buying new clothes. I thrift shop as much as I can, even for my son’s school shoes (there are so many unworn shoes on sale everywhere). My kids are very aware of the most polluting brands and industries and to some point extent they are the ones that point out solutions now, which is how I want to get old. I feel much more in tune with this generation and I feel that Fonda probably feels the same.
    I slowly but surely fell in love with her.

    • Meg says:

      Im so grateful for thrift stores or i wouldn’t have the cute stuff i have and afford to travel & go to concerts and not spend every dime i have. New clothes are so expensive to me after being spoiled with goodwills inexpensive stuff

    • Deering24 says:

      Slowdown, Meg—there is a terrific NYT article about Band Of Outsiders ex-CEO Scott Sternberg who put his money into Entirewear (a sweats company) because even before Covid, he felt fashion had hit a dead end. He was making clothes he hated dictated by investors who thought “quirky” and “young” was the only market worth aiming for, and he figured it was only a matter of time before stuff like toeless boots and sleeveless coats overpriced out the box would not sell at all. A lot of the last 15 years worth of clothes have been poorly-made and horribly designed, so it makes sense he and (Fonda) wouldn’t want to keep feeding the beast, as it were. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/06/magazine/fashion-sweatpants.html

  7. whatWHAT? says:

    This advice, along with Helen Mirren’s advice for her younger self, are just fantastic.

    Mirren’s was “I’d tell myself to tell people to ‘f*ck off’ a lot more often.”

    • Meg says:

      The problem is as a woman i feel like i was told to be likeable and nice too often, that seemed no matter more than my comfort or self respect. That is the opposite message id send kids and young relatives. i have to remind myself of this too: dont crumble when someone is upset at you saying no. Dont cave to that. Youll most likely feel discomfort anxiety thats ok dont feel the need to change that to fix it its not our job to. Just sit in those feelings of discomfort

  8. Nina Simone says:

    I’m learning to say “no” too, I must say, I find it particularly hard to say no to my mother. Even though I desperately want to. It’s something I have to learn I guess

    • Noodle says:

      One of my most hated professors in college gave me the best advice. She said “You don’t have to react.” I have taken that advice so much in the past few years, and taken back the power I gave to others through my reactions, my apologies, and my explanations. You don’t have to react. Reactions are power.

  9. lucy2 says:

    That’s great advice. And I love that she’s out there fighting for the climate.
    I just listened to a great interview with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson on Sophia Bush’s podcast (I think it was from a while ago but I’m just catching up) and she talked a lot about climate change, how it relates to race, how it affects the oceans, and things we can do.

  10. Vava says:

    Jane is great. I like her hair these days, too.
    I lost most of my clothing in a house fire a year ago and have been mindful of new purchases. I’m mostly making my own these days, though. I use high quality fabrics, can fit the garment to my body, and hopefully these items will last a long time.

  11. Jaded says:

    I’ve done her exercise videos for decades, but now limit myself to her Low Impact workout and her Easy Going workout – at 67 no more high impact stuff for me!

    When you say “No” respectfully, responding rather than reacting, that’s fine. I was brought up to be a people pleaser and not allowed to have my own opinions – my parents were the last of the “children should be seen and not heard” generation. Well that caused a whole lot more trouble for me as I grew up than saying NO would have. You have to give kids the confidence to speak their minds and listen to them, out of the mouths of babes often comes wisdom.

  12. Regina Falangie says:

    I love Jane and her advice and views. I have been using her AM PM Yoga video for my workouts. It’s wonderful!! It helped me get into shape. I really respect and admire Jane.
    I also really appreciate everyone’s comments here about evolving. I’m a people pleaser too. It’s exhausting and detrimental to always put yourself last. I have been working on in for a while now. It isn’t easy. It’s nice to get reminders and validation from Jane and all of you.

  13. Soupie says:

    I love this quote. Wow. Learned it too late… still slip up.

  14. ce says:

    Whilst dealing with family issues, I had a ‘no’ of mine questioned by a toxic family member, which I responded with ‘no is a complete sentance’.
    I remember my sister being especially inspired by that statement, I wish I remembered who I learned it from. It served me well.

  15. Courtney B says:

    If you can check out the documentary Jane In Five Acts. It was amazing and really personal. The five acts are basically Henry’s daughter, vadim’s wife, Hayden’s wife, Turner’s wife and now she’s just Jane and not defining herself by the men in her life.