Allow Jane Fonda to Explain What It Means to Live Intentionally

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CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 27: <> attends the “Elemental” screening and closing ceremony red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 27, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)

Care for a life lesson from a living legend?

Jane Fonda needs no introduction, but just for fun, here’s my attempt at one: The multi-talented icon is an Oscar-winning actress, activist, author, philanthropist, executive producer, L’Oréal Paris spokesperson, and my personal life coach. OK, the latter is not entirely true, but it certainly felt that way as we chatted on a video call.

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“What I’ve learned over the years is that what really makes you look good is if you’re curious and happy,” says Fonda, who’s calling from the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. “If you’re interested and happy, that shows in your face.” She says that these days, when she looks back at photos of her that were taken during not-so-happy times in her life, she can immediately see that reflected in the way she looked. “Often it would mean I was wearing too much makeup.” These days, Fonda is much more concerned with caring for her skin than she is with piling on makeup. It’s also why she’s the face of L’Oréal’s Age Perfect Rosy Tone Skincare line. Fonda has been working with the brand for 15 years, something that she says continues to amaze her. “I’m still working for L’Oréal, at my age. I have to pinch myself sometimes.”

Speaking of pinching (stay with me for a second), Fonda shares that she only began paying attention to her looks after starring alongside Katharine Hepburn in 1981’s On Golden Pond. “She made it very clear to me that she did not like the fact that I didn’t pay much attention to how I looked. She came up behind me one day and took my cheek between her fingers and said, ‘This is what you present to the world.’ She wanted me to be more self-aware about how I presented myself. And I think I’ve followed her advice and I do pay more attention now. It’s why I let my hair go grey, to match my face. Not because my face is grey,” she laughs. “But you know, I’m 85 now.”

Fonda’s advice for overall good health, good skin and good vibes? (My words, not hers.) Praying, exercising, meditating, and living intentionally. But what does that mean, I ask? “OK, here’s the metaphor. You’re in a canoe on a river and you have no oar or paddle, right?” (Right.) “So the the tide takes you wherever it wants to take you and you have no control.” Fonda says living intentionally is putting your oar in the water and steering. “It took me quite a long time in my life to learn to put an oar in the water and steer myself. But I did learn to do it, and I think that’s why I feel pretty good now at my age.”

Photography by Getty Images

Before we wrap our call, I confess to my new life coach that I’m a hopeless meditator, having repeatedly tried and failed to pick up the good-for-you practice. “You need a good mantra,” says Fonda. I ask what hers is, in the hope that it’ll provide inspiration for my own. “Oh, once you have one, you can never share it,” she says. “You can’t repeat it to anyone.”

You learn something new (from Jane Fonda) every day.

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