Actress Jane Fonda (search) shared her struggle with bulimia (search) and quest for physical perfection at a conference of teenage girls here, urging them to realize what it took her some 60 years to understand.

"The reason I've been excited about coming here is because I believe if we're going to solve the problems confronting the world on every level, it's going to have to be the girls who do it," Fonda said.

The keynote speaker for Montana State University's Girls for a Change Conference (search) on Saturday, Fonda told her audience of about 250 that her years of trying to look perfect have taken a great toll on her.

"I was bulimic for 35 years," Fonda, 67, said. "I mistook the physical hunger for spiritual hunger."

Fonda said that growing up, she never felt she was good enough, and learned at a young age that a woman's role was to please her husband. "I knew intuitively that to be loved, I have to be perfect," she said.

When she hit adolescence, Fonda said, her days of climbing trees and riding horses were shadowed by feelings that she and her body were imperfect — feelings common to many girls, she said.

"That leaves a dark hole in the center of ourselves," she said.