Jane Fonda’s Ponytail at the Emmys- Big Deal?

Who knew a ponytail could make so many people freak out? This past Sunday, both viewers and the media went mad when Jane Fonda showed up at the 2017 Emmy Awards sporting what is described as an Ariana Grande-style ponytail.

Jane Fonda Emmy awards 2017
Jane Fonda Emmy awards 2017/ Shutterstock

For those of you who aren’t up on pop music (or don’t have a teenage daughter living at home), Ariana Grande is a 24-year-old teen television star turned pop diva, famous for a killer voice and the signature high, pulled-back ponytail she almost always has her long-hair done up in. On the other hand, Jane Fonda is a 79-year-old actress, famous for reinventing herself and now doing her hair and makeup however the heck she wants.


Criticism and support came pouring in fast and furious, and as expected, some people loved it – “The woman is almost 80. She looks amazing!” – while others gave it a resounding two-thumbs down – “She’s 50 years too old for that hairstyle.” Some were downright mean – “She looks much too old for that hairstyle and color of the dress. She looks pathetic.” (Ouch!) And sometimes, the conversation started with the ponytail but quickly diverged to comments about Jane’s facelift.

From ageism to aging gracefully, there’s plenty to dissect and learn from comments like these, but one thing it boils down to for me is something that I hear from readers again and again and again: Can I wear <<FILL IN THE BLANK>> without looking too young (read: like I’m trying too hard) or too old (read: like I’ve given up?). Many of us are afraid that if we get it too far wrong, we will, like Jane, be judged for it.


As for me and my opinion on Ponytail-Gate, I think, “Why not?” It’s not a big deal. Fashion lovers take risks. Jane Fonda is having some fun with her style – never a bad thing – and at her age  – heck, at any woman’s age over 40 – why not? Particularly when Jane Fonda is on the red carpet, a place where there’s an audience expecting a show. What’s the harm in a bright dress and a ponytail? It’s entertainment!

Personally, I’m a fan of Jane Fonda’s acting.  I love her show, Grace and Frankie (and Lily Tomlin is so funny in this too).  I think she’s got a lot of styles, and I applaud her for always taking such great care of herself. As far as her facelift goes, I couldn’t care less. That’s her business. Jane looks fabulous and has loads of energy, not to mention a positive attitude at this age and stage of the game.

Over to you. How much does finding that sweet spot between dressing too young or too old matter to you? Do you care that Jane wore a long ponytail and bangs at nearly 80?

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37 thoughts on “Jane Fonda’s Ponytail at the Emmys- Big Deal?

  1. Jane looked fantastic. She is 79 years old….wow! I do not understand people’s need to be hostile toward others. We live in a harsh world. We should be lifting each other. Life has enough struggles without beating up someone else for something as non-important as their fashion choices. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything at all. I am pretty confident Jane is too busy living her life even to spend time reading others’ comments, but if she is perusing websites, “You looked fabulous, Ms. Fonda.”

  2. I think she looks terrific; I love the dress, the color, the hair, the make-up. I hope to make bold and fearless choices in fashion for as long as I can! she has great style! That said, I do not like plastic surgery and think she would look just as good without it. I know there’s pressure in Hollywood to look young. I say F-it! I would love to see a woman not being afraid to look her age (meaning aging naturally) while still being stylish. I have nothing against taking care of yourself; I just don’t think we need to go under the knife to do it.
    PS: Frankie and Grace are fabulous and honest about aging, kudos to both of them!

  3. Jane looks very classy. The outfit is flawless.

    I don’t watch award shows. The fashion attacks are so irritating. I’d dress like Bjork as a swan to give the harpies something to cackle about.

  4. I could care less if she wore her hair in a ponytail or dyed it purple…My heart stopped when I saw her. I said to myself…”Oh my God…is that Jane Fonda?” She has now physically modified herself to such an extent with plastic surgery that she no longer looks like herself. How sad. That’s where the honest discussion should be. Why do women over 40 (and even younger) feel compelled to modify their looks as they age? Shouldn’t we embrace aging? If this compulsion to look 20 at the fantastic age of 70 is going to end, it must start with women. And, guess what? I have no apologies for my opinion.

    1. And nor should you, Anne – many share your opinion, and I’m happy you offered it up. It certainly speaks to the more extensive discussion around ageism in general too. Thanks for chiming in!

  5. I think she looks fabulous! And even if I didn’t, I would never criticize her for her fashion choices. Too many women feel entitled to judge another woman’s style as lacking. They need to get a life! Women must support one another’s style choices, regardless of their political leanings.

    1. She does look great. I often use the term ‘age-amazing’ to describe how women like Jane Fonda look. It goes beyond looking suitable for your age. It’s more about looking great because you’re healthy, vibrant, and engaged with life now. Thanks for posting a comment, Maggie!

  6. I agree with people being entirely too critical. I think a lot of those comments come from jealousy. At first glance, I did not love the look on her, but my opinion has nothing to do with the fact that she’s wearing pink or a ponytail. She’s confident enough to have fun with fashion, which counts! And, as far as her facelift goes, I’m all for plastic surgery if someone can afford it and does not try to hide it (as stated in another comment). And, of course, if it’s done for the right reasons (for herself, not to please someone else). Good for her!

    1. I think you hit on something pretty key here, Mimi, and that is that fashion should be fun! Goodness knows we have enough things in life to worry about, and trying new things shouldn’t be something to fear or be overly serious about. As the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  7. I like the look. It seems like she’s trying to communicate the age she feels on the inside. It comes off great; not like she’s trying too hard. I also do not mind the facelift because she talks about it honestly. It bothers me when women “get work done” but are dishonest about it. To imply that it’s natural is a disservice to all women.

  8. The second I saw her, I was delighted at the color and hair … and just how amazing she looked. I am inspired to see a woman using most of her natural attributes at every age. But I never expected a 79-year-old to delight me on the fashion front. From the silver shoes to the flattering silhouette and KILLER color pink — Applause to her!

  9. I’m with you, Deb…I mean, it’s Jane Fonda; can she make anything look bad? I think not! She is, IMHO, the epitome of Style and Timeless Fashion. I love some “Grace and Frankie” I binge-watch the entire season when it’s released. Part of me watches the show for the quirky dynamic between Lily and Jane, and the other part tends to admire Jane Fonda’s Fabulous outfits! So to Jane Fonda, I say, “Go, Girl, you ROCK that ponytail!”

    1. Hi Lisa, Don’t you love that show!! It’s so funny; how they have defined the characters by dressing them in two distinct ways is so fascinating! Here’s to binge-watching Grace and Frankie!

  10. I thought she looked great! I love that shade of pink & it has no age limit on wearing it, ha! Pink is one of my favorite colors too. I have it in all shades. The ponytail was different, but I think she killed it! Not everyone could make those bangs, but she rocked her look confidently! What an inspiration for all of us that are trying out new things!

    1. Bonnie, I agree with your comments. I thought she rocked it! As to the facelift., I believe if it makes you feel better, gives you more self-confidence, and you can afford it, why not? I love that we are in a time when women CAN make changes, take risks and explore who they are. I could pull this look off when I’m 79!

  11. Hello Dianne, In posting this, I have focused on women’s pressure to look a certain way and used this recent incident with Jane Fonda as an example. I in no way meant to offend anyone who has family members or who knows someone that was impacted by her politics. If I have inadvertently done that, I sincerely apologize. Given that FabulousAfter40 is where women come for information on and the community around fashion and style, we’ll post related comments.
    I do, however, respect all views and appreciate all comments.

  12. Jane is beautiful and looks great in Grace and Frankie. When I first saw these photos and after a few days to digest them, she looked more like a wax figure than a real woman. That, to me, is the issue. Older women do not have to swear off bare legs, showing some skin, long hair, and bright colors. However, if it doesn’t look natural, that’s a big turn-off.

    1. Hi Jenna, I don’t know if any of those stars ( no matter their age) look natural at those awards shows. They have so much make-up and hair going on for the cameras it is hard to look natural. (LOL!)

  13. TISK TISK, her hair, her business…..I just cut my ponytail off, I’m 69 years old and I love my new shoulder-length hairstyle and I will let it grow again, or I may chop it all off even shorter, and it’s my hair, my style ……she is in the limelight, but so what…..women, we need to build one another up not tear one another down.


    1. Your comment reminds me of a children’s book I read to my daughter, Stephanie’s Ponytail. It’s about a little girl who wears her ponytail in all sorts of wacky and wonderful ways. When the other kids in her class make fun of her, she always responds, “It’s my ponytail, and I like it.” Maybe that’s what we should all say about our fashion and style choices: ‘It’s my <> and I like it!’

    2. Your comments remind me of a children’s book I read to my daughter, Stephanie’s Ponytail. It’s about a little girl who wears her ponytail in all sorts of wacky and wonderful ways. When the other kids in her class make fun of her, she always responds, “It’s my ponytail, and I like it.” Maybe that’s what we should all say about our fashion and style choices: ‘It’s my style, and I like it!’

  14. She looks elegant in that beautiful dress. In the photo on this website, it looks like a deep pink. Her hair is her business; it’s off her face and the ponytail draped over her shoulder looks nice. She looks like Jane Fonda; her age doesn’t enter her image. Hooray for Jane!

  15. I’m right with you, once again. I think Jane Fonda is an inspiration. At this age, she has earned the right to enjoy herself, her clothing, her personal style, and all her accomplishments as an artist. Who in the world “decides” how older women should dress, anyway? Who are the fashion police and who cares? I am tired of people “should” all over mature women.

    1. I hear you, Cynthia. I love to help women in their quest to look and feel fabulous, but at the end of the day, I never want to be the fashion police. When it comes to ‘shoulding,’ the only thing women should do is what feels right to them.

      1. Deborah, you’re a great supporter and champion of mature women. (I would never think of you as the fashion police.) Your style and expertise are always excellent and appropriate — and I learn so much from you. Hank you for all you do!

    1. Hi Debbie, I’m with you! Why not? Fashion should be fun and really, is she so far out there? I’ve seen so many 40+ women take far greater fashion risks, and all the power to them if that makes them happy!

  16. The pressure that women are under for everything we do and everything we wear is absurd. We don’t just all evaporate at the age of 29, so why not continue having fun with fashion? It’s such a double standard – men are not only allowed to age but they are still considered hot when they get gray hair and wrinkles (see: almost every male action star). I loved her confident look at the Emmys. Hot pink with a high ponytail – I hope I look as good as she does when I’m 82.

    Darling Marcelle 

    1. Hi Kaelen, I couldn’t agree more. Everyone is just too darn critical. And she did look super confident, didn’t she? I LOVE that! She’s pushing those boundaries! Cheers, Deborah

    2. I agree with Kaelen. Don’t we all have something better to do than criticize, judge, and negatively comment about so many things in life? Since when did wearing pink become age determined?

      1. I agree it is harder on women and that men are considered handsome with wrinkles and gray hair, but they would look silly in the styles 20-something men wear. I think her dress looks lovely, but her hairstyle looks ridiculous. This blog is about dressing age excellent, giving women tips on how to look in style without trying too hard. It’s called fabulous after 40. If there is no difference in what we wear at different ages, why are we on this blog instead of the 20-something year-olds? I think some are being disingenuous. And I think celebrating (as one commenter did) that women can explore who they are by having plastic surgery is absurd. I’m not against it, but the rhetoric sounds more like propaganda.

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