Body Image and Cancer
- Actresses Jane Fonda and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have both overcome cancer in their lives.
- Fonda recently talked about aging and body image on Louis-Dreyfus’ new podcast, “Wiser Than Me.”
- In the interview, Fonda admits it would be hard for her to be naked in front of someone again, but she also says she doesn’t criticize her body any more.
- It’s not uncommon for cancer survivors to struggle with body image.
- One breast cancer survivor told us that reconstruction allowed her to move forward with more confidence after her breast cancer battle. Another survivor said her disease taught her that “femininity is a state of mind.”
Fonda is a legendary actress whose career has spanned more than six decades. So, it makes sense that fellow cancer survivor and “Veep” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus pegged her for the first episode of “Wiser Than Me.”Read More
Jane Fonda on Loving Your BodyIn their recent conversation, the two actresses talked about everything from love, aging and body image. And Fonda made it very clear that 85 can be very different from person to person.
View this post on Instagram
“I feel 85 in my body, and mentally I feel much much younger,” Fonda said. “Spiritually and mentally and psychologically, I’m way younger than 85.”
She went on to explain that the thought of aging can be scary for some, but it’s all a matter of perspective.
“One of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten into serious old age is when you’re inside it as opposed to looking at it from the outside, it’s not nearly as scary,” she said. “The chronology of age is not what’s important, it’s health.
“I’m fine, I’m healthy, I’ve had cancer but it’s in remission… If you’re healthy, 85 can be quite young.”
RELATED: Cancer Survivor Jane Fonda, 85, Says Not Having Women Friends Is Bad For Your Health — Here’s Why That May Be True
Her take on body appreciation was also very refreshing. She feels grateful to have spent so many years getting strong and prioritizing her health.
“Even at 85, I am strong,” she said. “I’m surprised at how hard things get even when you are strong, but I have made peace with my body. It has gotten me a long ways, it’s stood up for me, so I appreciate my body.
“I don’t criticize and hate on it anymore.”
Body Positivity for Cancer Survivors
- Let’s Talk About Sex: Breast Cancer Survivor Meghan Koziel on Improving Your Sexuality & Confidence After Cancer
- ‘A Zebra Without Its Stripes’: Model and Ovarian Cancer Survivor Ash Foo Says She Doesn’t Recognize Pictures of Herself Before Treatment – Achieving Body Positivity after Cancer
- Body Image, Sex, and Adjusting to a New Normal After Cancer Treatment
That being said, she admits she’s not immune to self-consciousness. She says she has no plans to look for a romantic partner again, but she also shares that revealing her naked body to a new person would be something she’d struggle with.
“I don’t have to show [my body] to anybody. I’m vain enough so that it would be hard for me to get naked in front of [someone],” she said. “Not if i I lived with somebody 50 years — which I wish that had been my fate — but, you know, I wouldn’t be able to get undressed in front of a new lover.
“No, I’ve got too many nicks and, you know, scars and holes and all kinds of things. I mean, I’ve got two fake hips and a fake knee and a fake shoulder and even a fake thumb.”
Body Image and Cancer
Appreciating your body and all that it has accomplished is a beautiful thing, just as Jane Fonda shows. Why not try to love the skin you’re in? After all, we only get one body, and we’re partners with it for life.
That being said, body positivity is easier said than done. And cancer survivors may struggle more than others during or after their cancer journeys.
Celebrity Stylist Ann Caruso on Beauty and Femininity After Cancer
Take Ann Caruso, for example. She had 12 surgeries to treat her breast cancer and told SurvivorNet about how all of the changes really impacted the way she saw her body.
“You’re not the same carefree person that you once were, and it was very hard for me to look at myself every day,” Caruso said. “It was like I was a totally different person and didn’t fit into any of my clothes for so long.”
But time is a powerful healer. Looking back on her breast cancer experience has helped her redefine femininity and body image.
“Femininity is a state of mind,” Caruso said. “And I think that’s something that we have to remind ourselves.”
Another breast cancer survivor, Jaclyn Kaczynski, had a similar experience after her diagnosis at 37.
My Confidence Was Destroyed: Dealing With Body Image During Cancer Treatment
“My confidence was gone,” she told SurvivorNet. “My confidence was destroyed. I was always vain about my appearance and my weight, let alone losing a breast, or both.”
Some people find empowerment in going “flat” after losing their breasts to the disease, but Kaczynski found confidence in reconstruction. There’s no right or wrong answer for breast cancer survivors, but it’s important to consider all your options and go forward with whatever path is best for you.
“I just had my reconstructive surgery,” she explained. “My favorite doctor was able to make it happen for me.
“It’s amazing how much more confidence I have within the past three weeks.”
Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.