Angelina Jolie's decision to tell the world about her double mastectomy is truly brave and truly inspiring

'Raising awareness' is usually just an empty celebrity culture cliché, but Jolie's article for The New York Times could make a real difference to women's lives.

Share
Related Topics

The celebrity culture cliché “raising awareness” doesn’t usually amount to much. It’s an excuse for a glitzy party or a throwaway line in a glossy magazine interview. Angelina Jolie’s piece for The New York Times, in which she explains her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy, is different. It will have a real impact.

Jolie established her stardom in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which is, not to put too finer point on it, a film about breasts. Over the course of a career that includes an Academy Award and two directing credits she became Hollywood’s highest paid actress in 2011. Yet she is the “Sexiest Woman in The World” (FHM, 2005), “Most Beautiful Woman in the World” (Vanity Fair, 2009) and the “Most Stylish Celebrity Mom” (Glamour, 2013). She still exemplifies what all women sometimes feel – that whatever you do your value in this world will be largely defined by your body – either as a maternal vessel or a sexual object.

Now we know that Angelina Jolie is as beautiful, glamorous, admirable and strong after the surgery as she was before. In fact, more so. In her words: “I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” She has become the living, breathing proof of her own argument; women needn’t be afraid to put their health first. It’s a simple, but powerful message and this is that rare occurrence of a celebrity being truly best-placed to deliver it. So, good for her.

And good for her too for acknowledging that not all breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation which can be tested, and that the majority of the people who die from breast cancer live in poorer parts of the world where such testing is still prohibitively expensive. These women need help and support too.

A preventative double mastectomy will remain a difficult and very personal choice for the women in these circumstances, but Jolie’s openness about her own (much-discussed) body underlines that it is, at least, a choice.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Ellen E Jones
Scientists have discovered the perfect cheese for pizzas (it's mozzarella)  

Life of pie: Hard cheese for academics

Simmy Richman
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution