updated 04/24/2013 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/11/2014 AT 7:00 AM ET
Jane Fonda doesn’t consider herself beautiful.
“Am I surprised by how good I look at 75? Yes, I appreciate the compliment, I’m honored to be called beautiful. I don’t consider myself beautiful,” she says on the set of her PEOPLE Most Beautiful photo shoot. “But when I was on the outside of oldness, looking in, I didn’t expect that people would think I was beautiful at 75.”
Fonda, who posed in a sparkling gown, is taking aging in stride.
“I feel lighter, I feel younger, I feel a greater sense of well-being. Not what I expected at all. Basically I’m pretty happy about the whole thing,” she says.
As for maintaining a youthful glow, Fonda – who recently suffered a breast cancer scare – has one piece of advice for women.
“To stay young at heart, you have to have love in your life. For me, it’s my women friends. They put starch in my spine and make me happy,” she says.
Still, confidence doesn’t come overnight.
“Owning who you are, being good in your skin … It takes a long time to get there. It took me over 60 years,” she says.