In today’s New York Times, Angelina Jolie shares the story of her decision to have a double mastectomy after her BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests came back with bad news:
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
As a red-blooded American boy back in 1998, I remember when Angelina Jolie set the world afire in her debut as Gia, the star-crossed SuperModel. The hallmark of Angelina’s performance was the baring of her beautiful and natural breasts that became their own phenomenal meme in the lives of all young men long before there was an active internet. The Google now preserves that original beautiful and naturalistic naked memory — and here’s the start of the stunner that became the star:
In the promise of her career, Angelina Jolie was her body. She was beautiful and dangerous and passionate and the fact that she was estranged from her father, actor John Voight, made her even more vulnerable and broken and in need of caressing by her adoring male fans.
As her career evolved, she tried to betray her beauty and remove her body as the object of desire in her performance, but it never really worked. Those eyes. Those lips. The indescribable outline of her figure were always simmering and available. Sure, we tried to look past the perfection of her universal human beauty — and appreciate her acting talent and her good heart — but many of us were thwarted by her expressive energy that connected us to her on a raw and undeniable level of basic human wanting.
Now the challenge for Angelina Jolie, and her fans, is that she really is no longer her body. By medical choice, she had major surgery that, in many ways, permanently alters her outlook, and our view of her. Are we mature enough to accept a sexpot with a double mastectomy? Are we able to appreciate her inner beauty? Or are we only able to see the surface of her?
I’m sure Angelina is also fighting her body and her wealth of life. Her body has paid her well — in career opportunities and in beautiful children — and now she has to take a quicker next step into maturity as her body fades and her beauty ages in ways she may not be able to control or predict.
Will she return to acting? Will Angelina continue to play the sexy, dangerous, roles? Or have her motherhood and her mastectomies now forever changed her ability — or want — to pretend with us on a world stage? Can she recapture the perils of her youth, or is she now content to play more dangerous and unpredictable roles where she will have to use her mind and her skill to mesmerize us without the inherent, unbridled, naked, sexuality leaping from her like an angry tiger?
If there will be anyone to be the first supercelebrity sexpot with a double mastectomy, she is the one! Moreover, it will surely embolden women who were previously intimidated by the very nature of the operation — if she can do it and still be gorgeous, so can you!
It will be interesting to see if Angelina decides to stay the course with her career, change course, or just retire.
Times have changed since 1988 when Nancy Reagan proactively decided to have a full mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy:
What a brave and radical decision for her to make – I hope she goes on to prove that women are not defined by their bodies alone – whatever path she decides to walk in the future.
It will be interesting to see how she changes — because she has been irrevocably changed. I am mesmerized by her. I find her fascinating to just watch. I hate it that she was the reason for the Brad and Jennifer marriage breakup, though, so I’m conflicted in my affinity for her on a basic moral level.
This must have been such a difficult choice and an even more grueling process… the “science fiction film” feeling that she talks about post-op gives me shivers. Despite her fame she knows what’s really important is taking care of herself and being there for her kids. I hope the superficiality of stardom does not hold her back at all and she is able to play whatever role she wants to play.
She definitely put motherhood over her own career, and I agree she was brave to take the test and then make the only logical decision the results left her. She didn’t want to have the same end as her mother.
It will be interesting to watch how she changes and if the audience around her allows her changes as well.