I gotta run. They’re doing a breast reduction on 3, and I want to get up there to try and stop it. You know what I’m talkin’ about!
Todd, Scrubs season 2 episode 15, “His Story”
So about Angelina Jolie’s preventive double mastectomy. The reaction seems to range from “this is none of my business” to “how very brave of her” to “NOOOOOOOOO, BOOOOOOOOOOOBS!!!!!!!!!” To one degree or another, these are all fair reactions.
None of My Business: This is by far the best reaction, because people’s personal medical decisions should be just that—personal. Still, Angelina Jolie has lived much of her life in the public eye, and whether she likes it or not, people will take notice of her decisions.
Courage: Angelina Jolie is not like most famous people in Hollywood. I’ve never quite been able to put what I mean in words, and I’m not sure anyone else has either. She is beyond doubt a talented actress and an all-around good human being, but she brings something to all of her movies that overpowers everyone and everything else on screen. This manages to make even her not-very-good movies (e.g. Taking Lives) memorable, and makes her the most noticeable part of movies where she plays a bit part (e.g. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.) Even when she’s doing something silly, people take notice en masse. It’s a unique combination of beauty and gravitas, for lack of a better description.
This makes her an ideal spokesperson for various causes, and she can’t seem to help but be a role model. Of course, much of the media attention she has received over the years has focused on her lips and other……attributes. She is and will still be a phenomenally beautiful woman, but there is a bold element to her decision. She may or may not have intended this, but she is basically daring people to assess whether this will affect her entertainment career.
Her mother died of cancer in 2007. She had an eighty-seven percent chance of developing breast cancer, a chance which is now much lower. She has six children, all of whom now have a greater chance of seeing their mother grow old.
Boobs: Let’s just say it. Angelina Jolie had fantastic breasts. I think it is okay to lament the world’s loss, given that it was, is, and will aways be a breast owner’s decision what to do with them. We may think of this as the loss of a great American treasure, but it is not the same as, say, the loss of the Old Man of the Mountain. That was a public trust. These were somebody’s body parts. Let us say no more about them, except to celebrate someone’s courage to take whatever control she could of her own health.
Wait, There’s More! Joe Patrice at Above the Law has a piece on the gene that led to Jolie’s decision, BRCA1. The only test capable of detecting the gene is patented, and therefore very expensive. This means that people like Jolie, who have resources, can get the test, while millions more cannot. Even after the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, “grandfathered” plans may not have to provide coverage for the test. This may change, though, when the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue of the patentability of human genes in a few months in Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.
And a Little More: It is impossible to Google Angelina Jolie’s name without quickly venturing into NSFW territory. Here’s an NSFW GIF of her taking off her shirt. Thanks for reading my blog.