Free Research Paper About Aging And Jane Fonda

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Aging, Age, Jane Fonda, Theory, Sociology, People, Life, Actions

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/02


Aging is an inevitable process of life. It is the process of becoming older that brings about a lot of multidimensional (physical, psychological and social) changes. For example, as people age, their reaction time may slow down, but they develop more wisdom. Old age triggers the occurrence of various diseases and the inability to perform most of the societal activities. In other words, old age is generally associated with physical disabilities. With people living a fast paced lifestyle nowadays, elderly people are often considered a burden because of their age-related disabilities. Many senior citizens get into social seclusion and prefer to live a sedentary and isolated lifestyle because of this reason. However, according to many theorists, the process of aging can be procrastinated through social interaction and staying active in old age. There are many elderly Hollywood celebrities, including Jane Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Betty White, and Dick Van Dyke who continue to defy age. This essay will highlight the challenges encountered by one of the famous Hollywood celebrities, Jane Fonda, as she grows older and relate three important aging theories, including activity theory, continuity theory and disengagement theory to her experience, touching upon her defiance of the aging process.

Jane Fonda: Brief Biography

Jane Seymour Fonda is the daughter of the legendary actor Henry Fonda. She was born in New York in 1938. Her sister Peter Fonda and Aunt Bridget Fonda were also famous actors. She won two best actress Oscars for her role in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978). She was also nominated for the Academy Awards for five more times. Henry and Jane Fonda were the only father-daughter duo nominated for Oscar in the same year (1981) (Hambleton, 2013). Though she was highly successful as an actress, she got herself into much controversy for supporting the Vietnamese communist cause during the Vietnam War. She was so vocal about the Vietnamese cause that she became one of the most hated actresses of her time, with many people continuing to loathe her even today (Hambleton, 2013). She has three marriages and three children. She is also one of the most successful aerobic fitness gurus of the modern America. Her video “Jane Fonda Workout” sold more than 20 million copies (Hambleton, 2013).
At the age of 76, Jane Fonda is considered one of the youngest looking aged celebrities in the world. She is the only actress who has featured in the cover page of Vogue at the age of 75 (Hambleton, 2013). When sedentary lifestyle, seclusion and disabilities are making the aging process faster, Jane Fonda remains a glaring exception to the rule. She is a role model for many in the anti-aging process. She has shown that becoming old does not mean that a person needs to be in a predefined role and cannot continue what they love. However, she emphasizes the fact that some changes in life style are important in old age, but being active and disciplined is the key to remain young socially and psychologically, helping to delay the mental as well as physical aging process (Goudreau, 2011).

Activity Theory and Jane Fonda

In true sense, Jane Fonda has followed what the aging theorists have proposed for generations. For example, as per the activity theory of Cavan, Havighurst and Albrecht, older adults with more activity and social interaction keep their morale high in old age (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2010). Activity in old age is important than inactivity. Jane Fonda too in her lecture on “10 age defying tips” has indicated the importance of staying active to defy the aging process. In her interview, she has expressed how she started getting less number of movie offers when she started aging, and so she involved herself in other activities. She initiated producing films, ventured into aerobics exercise business and became heavily involved in social activities (Dailey, 2010). This kept her active even after she took a hiatus from the movies upon crossing 50. This continuous activity kept her morale high due to which she has been able to take meaningful participation in the society.

Disengagement Theory and Jane Fonda’s Life

Cumming and Henry proposed an aging theory called “Disengagement Theory”, which states that as people begin to age, the society and the elderly people take a mutual separation from each other (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2010). This theory is based on the assumption that people become more self-absorbed in old age, and therefore, it is important for the old people to make room for the young generation disengaging themselves socially. The logic behind the necessity of social disengagement is that if older people remain more socially active, then it will hurt them that they are unable to function like before or function like the younger generation, and hence, living in seclusion is good to keep high morale in old age (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2010).
Jane Fonda follows this partially in her life. When she was convinced that she needed to make room for the younger generation, she announced her retirement from movies in 1991. She no longer tries to get mainstream movie roles as that probably would have resulted in more professional failure and low morale. However, Jane Fonda remains active in other areas like social work and fitness and exercise more suited for people of any age (Dailey, 2010). Jane Fonda in her latest blog “Crying” has also mentioned that at this age she has started feeling more involved emotionally with many events of the world because she finally has started contemplating mortality in old age. She realizes that she has little time left and therefore, wants to get involved with everything emotionally. She said “Maybe because I'm older my heart is wider open, like a net that wants to catch all the things that matter” (Dailey, 2010).

Continuity Theory

Continuity theory of aging is more elusive as a concept than other theories. As per this theory, human beings try to keep the internal and external structure intact, and to do that, it tries to adapt to the changing situation like aging. However, continuity theory states that in the middle of old age, people try to be in situations where familiar strategies can work and less adaptation is required (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2010). Familiar strategies and change adaptability of a person come from a person’s past experiences (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2010).
Jane Fonda grew in a family of actors, and she herself was a famous actress. She removed herself from the mainstream acting career when she understood that it was time to adapt to something more meaningful to her age. She achieved much success by venturing into the fitness and aerobics business and as a fitness and aerobics trainer. Currently, she mostly devotes most of her time to social activities and giving lectures on social clubs and fitness organizations (Dailey, 2010). She can easily adapt to any situation from her past experiences and can keep her life continuity despite the aging process.


Jane Fonda remains one of the youth-old icons of all time. She is not only giving hope to many old age people through her active lifestyle and healthy habits, but is also defying the common social norms about the aging process. Jane Fonda, in many aspects, followed the aging theories in full spirit. She follows the activity theory by remaining active socially, physically and psychologically by keeping herself busy with various engagements. She has followed the disengagement theory by allowing the younger generation to take her space and continues to defy the aging process by adapting herself to situations whenever needed. She is truly a woman who has lived her life to the fullest and continues to present herself as an example of the axiom that age is just a number.


Hooyman, N., and Kiyak, H. (2010). Social gerontology: A multidisciplinary perspective. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Goudreau, J. (2011). Jane Fonda Reveals Her Top 10 Secrets For Aging Gracefully. Forbes. Retrieved on February 28 2015, from <>
Dailey, K. (2010). Jane Fonda's Third Act.(Health). Retrieved on February 28 2015, from <>
Hambleton, L. (2013). Now 75, Jane Fonda Looks Back -- and Ahead. The Washington Post. Retrieved on February 28 2015, from <>

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