Fonda, 78, interviewed Dunham, 29, for Paper magazine's March, Mae West-inspired cover, and pointed out the very different ways they were taught about their bodies.
"I grew up with massive body image [issues] – my father made me feel that I was fat and unattractive and I don't think he realized how destructive it was," Fonda explains.
Dunham says her parents were always supportive of her and helped her feel like she was good enough.
"Despite a knowledge that my body didn't necessarily meet a perfect norm, I've also always felt [comfortable] – and I think a lot of it does come from my parents and that even in our most challenging moments, they've always sent me the message that I was, at my very core, 'enough.' "
Ellen Von Unwerth
"All the characters I play always dress like they're a size 0 when they're actually a size 10," Dunham explains. "Some might call it 'delusional' and I like to think about it as this sort of rocket confidence that's a little unearned but better than the opposite."
"I think that it was important to me also to announce that 'this is what I look like. I don't have an interest in changing unless it's on my own terms' – I won't say I'll never lose weight in my life, but it'd have to be for reasons that made sense to me and weren't to try to meet some industry standard."
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"I've always wanted to be a mother as long as I've been on this earth, it's something that has been important to me," Dunham says, and that she's open to adoption as an option. "I've said to my boyfriend [Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff], 'If fertility ends up being a challenge for me, I'm not gonna be the person who spends six years in IVF' because while I'm really intrigued by the possibility of carrying a child in my body, and I don't judge anyone else's choices, for me, years and years of hormones and body manipulation wouldn't work for my psychology and my body."
Ellen Von Unwerth
The two also touched on feminism, which Fonda says she didn't get involved in for years, largely because she was so focused on her activism against the Vietnam War. Dunham again took her cues from her mother and grew up a feminist, but was shocked by the sexism she found in Hollywood.
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Dunham says she's impressed now with how younger actresses like Rowan Blanchard, who recently said she identifies as queer, are working to bring feminism to the forefront.
"To see someone who's 14 years old and who has a mainstream media platform and is talking about that and has friends who are talking about that with her – it's not happening in a vacuum – it gives me so much hope and so much excitement."