Heather Siegel

Heather Siegel

Heather Siegel
Long Island, NY, USA
April 08
Author of Out From The Underworld: A Memoir, debuting winter 2015, Greenpoint Press. Visit me at www.heathersiegel.net


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JANUARY 31, 2012 11:09AM

My Fifteen Minute Love Affair with Jane Fonda

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I recently saw Jane Fonda interviewed and was so struck by her insight that I went immediately to Amazon and purchased her new book Primetime, which was sort of surprising, even to me, considering that I am not seventy, and that it was Jane Fonda being interviewed.

Now, I was on vacation when the interview aired on Joy Behar, and it was late and I’d had wine which always gives me a touch of insomnia, and the TV pickings at that hour were slim, but I am not embarrassed to say that I have always been a little bit of a Jane fan. Not necessarily Barbarella Jane, more like offbeat 9 to 5 Jane: skinny, comical, vulnerable, trying-to-pull-herself together-Jane. On Golden Pond Jane has worked for me too: Serious Jane, trying to work out father/daughter issues; I could relate. And I guess I would be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed her work out videos back in the day. If not for her egging me on, “You’re coming into the home stretch!”  I might still have more cellulite on my thighs.

What struck me at that late hour watching her interview-- besides what a decent job her plastic surgeon has done (and I mean this sincerely, I think she looks pretty good, much better than some of her fellow Hollywood counterparts)—what struck me was her notion of how very outdated our societal model of aging is. Our current model of aging, she contended, is broken into two segments: the years leading up to paunchy middle age (which can be seen as the incline, leaving the paunch as the peak, so to speak), and the years leading straight to death (which can, of course, be seen as the decline).

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have been viewing the process this way. My only question has been wondering how very soon I will personally experience my paunchy-summit as well as how long the slide of my decline would extend before I crashed into death.

I liked hearing about Jane’s new aging model better. Like her exercise persona, I found it to be much more uplifting. She told Joy that she likes to view life as one stairway going straight up, with three segments, or three acts she called them. Act I is 0 to 30, Act II is 30 to 60, and Act III is 60 to death. She went on to talk about how a new model is so necessary now, considering how we are living longer, and she talked at great length about what our third act should be about. But I wasn’t necessarily listening anymore, I was suddenly reorganizing my life into three acts, and seeing myself clearly as being in the second act, and not the last act,  instantly made me feel both younger and much less accomplished—which meant I had some serious living to do.

Hence the Amazon late-night purchase.

Of course when the book arrived replete with a full color photograph of golden girl Jane on the cover, nipped and tucked and airbrushed, I couldn’t help giggle when my husband, who happens to be ten years older than me, breezed by, took one look at the picture and said, “Are you f-ing kidding me? You’re actually going to read that crap?” My sentiments exactly. Not that I would let on to him.

“She has a lot to say about the aging process,” I said, straight-faced.

In the end, I gave it all I could, but ultimately, I’m not seventy yet, and my threshold for sentimentality is apparently way lower than my fifteen minute hero’s. I enjoyed the celebrity photos though, and I still get to take away my new aging model.

Now, onto Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which cropped up on Amazon during my Primetime purchase as a book I might like to read. I can already tell by the photo-shopped hirsute man-arms on Fey’s body, this read will be a much better fit.



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You seem to be a tad too young for Jane's wisdom. I on the other hand am swimming there right with her. She is an Olympic swimmer and I have the inner tube on.:)
Well done..
I watched her recent TED talk on Life's Third Act where she talks about those three segments. I wholeheartedly agreed with her words about doing a life review. It was great stuff.

And, I did always have a serious crush on her. I think it was "Klute" that did it.
I really enjoyed this post and I can so relate to that desperate desire to read anything that might shed some light on how to live with growing old.

I used to think I'd age as gracefully as Katherine Hepburn but now that it's here I'm behaving more like Joan Rivers -- quick, shrink wrap my face and schedule the skeleton transplant! But Jane Fonda, for all her annoyances, has aged gracefully and in recent months, presented a far more interesting and complex image than her many prior selves -- from Barbarella to Vietnam to Ted Turner to Jesus. I can certainly see why you ordered the book -- and why you ultimately forsook it! Thank you for a lovely post.
Movie star guilty pleasures...we all have them. Mine is (shhhh...) Suzanne Somers. But that's because (note: I'm getting defensive already) she writes about health in a manner that resonates with me. She gets it and has a much bigger platform than I, who has been saying the same things for years.

And I'd like ANYTHING to offers a smarter model re: getting older, so I get why you'd pick this up. I feel we have been so hindered and brainwashed in that department.

Smart, fun piece. It's sort of like a mini book review, told from a personal standpoint, down to wine insomnia.