Jane Fonda feared she ‘wouldn’t live past 30’ because of her ‘terrible addiction’

Jane Fonda blames Hollywood pressure for her addiction. Source: Getty

Content Warning: this article deals with eating disorders and may be triggering for some readers.

At the height of her career, actress and activist Jane Fonda was dealing with a silent battle, a “terrible addiction” that brought years of suffering.

Appearing on an episode of the Call Her Daddy podcast, the Barbarella star opened up about her experience with bulimia, a form of eating disorder characterised by repetitive binge-eating and purging.

“In my 20s, I was starting to be a movie actor. I suffered from bulimia very, very bad. I led a secret life,” Fonda told show host Alex Cooper.

“I was very, very unhappy. I assumed I wouldn’t live past 30 — I’m 85.

“I didn’t go out. I didn’t hardly date because I was unhappy and I had this eating disorder. And then I was also making movies that I didn’t very much like.”

Fonda went on to explain that early on she had seen her eating disorder as “innocent” and “innocuous”.

“Why can’t I have this ice cream and cake and then I’ll just throw it up?” she recalled thinking.

“What you don’t realise is it becomes a terrible addiction that takes over your life.

“It harms the way you look. You end up looking tired. It becomes impossible to have an authentic relationship when you’re doing this secretly.”

According to the Emmy winner, pressures from Hollywood and her own family were what made her eating disorder last for so long.

“I’ve worked most of my life to overcome the judgmental, the objectification and judgmentalism, the unconsciously making me feel that I’m not lovable if I’m not really thin, things like that,” Fonda said.

“It was a generational problem for a lot of men my father’s age. The objectification of women, and it took me a long time to get over that.”

Fonda reflected on the loneliness she felt during her battle with her addiction. Source: Getty

Fonda revealed that her eating disorder had gotten so bad she started to organise her life around when she could eat and purge. As she got older, her bulimia got “worse and worse” and started to take a toll on her body.

“It takes days and then at least a week to get over one single binge. And it’s not just the fatigue, it’s you become angry, you become hostile,” she said.

“All the trouble that I got in was because of that anger and that hostility. And then it got to a point in my 40s when I just thought, if I keep on like this I’m gonna die.”

Eventually, Fonda decided to go “cold turkey” as a way to beat her eating disorder, expressing that “it was really hard, but the fact is, the more distance you can put between you and the last binge, then the better it is. It becomes easier and easier.”

Fonda had previously spoken about her eating disorder during her appearance on The Checkup: With Dr David Agus, noting that recovery back in the ’50s and ’60s was different from how it is today.

“If I had it to do over and it was nowadays, I’d probably go to a 12-step program or something, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know there was a name for it, and I didn’t know that you could go someplace,” Fonda said on the show.

“It was really, really, really, really hard,” she continued to say before reminding viewers that “the good news is that you can recover from eating disorders 100 per cent”.

MENTAL HEALTH DISCLAIMER: If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800

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