Angelina Jolie Undergoes Cancer-Preventive Double Mastectomy

While driving to work this morning, I heard the news that Angelina Jolie bravely went through a breast cancer-preventive double mastectomy. I cannot imagine how difficult this decision must have been for her. As an actor, her work depends on her appearance. Her career was built upon exhibiting an intense sexuality that somehow softened under her undeniable femininity. She was and still is the poster child for a woman comfortable with her body and beauty. She chose to give up something before it had a chance to take her, or before she was dealt the cards that would have made the decision unquestionable.

In the end, this really is a question of identity. Who are we? Is it our body parts that define us? Are we the stamp others place on us? As women, we are constantly re-defining ourselves. At every phase of life - in our work and our homes - we are bound by how we are seen and by whom we are seen. The ease with which she re-defines her life is pretty incredible and a true inspiration.

Angelina’s decision is an incredible demonstration of generosity. Why, you may ask? As a woman in the public eye, she knows her actions can be a “call to action.” What she does is often seen as a commentary about womanhood, about beauty, about love. Her actions beg all of us to re-think who we are in relationship to what we are. She could have gone through her life never inflicted with cancer- after all 87% is not 100% - but she made a difficult choice.

I also find it interesting that she didn’t choose to get breast reconstruction and keep it quiet, after all she may have gotten away with not saying anything to anyone. By talking about this decision publicly, she has started a conversation that may help both women and men to see beyond the physical in terms of their relationships with each other and with greater society. I will forever be in awe of this woman, who once again has shown the strength, love and power it takes to be a woman.