With everyone still reeling from Angelina Jolie's announcement of her double mastectomy, it's worth pausing to give Angelina, the magnetic force of celebrity that has been firmly in the spotlight — whether it be because she wore a vial of Billy Bob Thornton's blood or because she visited beleaguered flood victims in Pakistan — a round of applause.
Hollywood's fetishization of just about every part of Jolie's body has made her an object, but instead of remaining so, she's channelled the world's fascination with all things Angelina into a platform to speak directly to millions. A $5 million dollar Komen campaign wouldn't have made women pay attention to their chances of genetically transmitted cancer and the benefits of preventative mastectomy the way Angelina's announcement did.
Jolie's name has been synonymous with all things sexy and Hollywood for the last 15 years, and her larger-than-life persona has transformed Lara Croft into a wonder woman of sorts. A highly successful Hollywood actress, mother of six, active humanitarian and she's stunningly beautiful? It's gotten to the point where I roll my eyes when I hear about how amazing and perfect Angelina Jolie is. She's superhuman.
But no. She's human, and she's not perfect. Her op-ed in the New York Times this morning was an earnest disclosure of her grappling with the memory of her own mother's death and what she wants for her children. Sure, not everyone's insurance covers a visit to the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, but coming to terms with losing your boobs is a universal challenge, one that all the celebrity and money in the world can't change. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice," wrote Jolie. "That in no way diminishes my femininity."
We'd never argue that point. But when it's coming from a global sex symbol, we shouldn't underestimate the power of such an assertion.
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