I love Angelina Jolie’s coming out about her mastectomy, for so many reasons. Girls and women right now are growing up in an overwhelmingly gendered society and much of that continues to be perpetuated by women. Instead of providing positive and strong influences of femininity, companies and celebrities choose to remain disconnected from creating a safer, more equal society.
Victoria's Secret chooses to provide teens with anti-consent undergarments, Facebook remains disconnected from the pro-rape and abuse advertising on their site, and celebrities continue to present us with lackluster representations of women’s strength and equality.
Well, Angelina Jolie has yet again dissociated herself from the norm of her industry. She not only openly came out about her double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer, but also spoke about her femininity and its unwavering existence, despite her mastectomy.
Jolie’s article was inspiring and hopeful as she talks about her “strong choice” that in “no way diminishes her femininity.” She lets the readers know that nothing defines her as feminine and ultimately the surgery has no impact on her roles as a mother, actress, and role-model.
The dictionary defines feminine as “behavioral traits generally considered feminine include gentleness, empathy and sensitivity.” Derived from the Latin word femina, the word literally means "she who suckles (breastfeeds).” Our society also presents a definitive norm for femininity and we hold explanations and ideals of that normality.
Jolie’s article doesn’t just provide hope and empowerment to those suffering from the possibility of cancer, it presents a dialogue that can redefine and reconsider femininity. Although Jolie went through a surgery that may seem to reduce her ability to be feminine, Angelina instead used it as a medium to provide her opinion on what it means to be a woman. Angelia Jolie is one of many inspiring women who let us know that being feminine isn’t defined by our clothing, our personality, or our body type - but rather by our own tenure over our bodies and our ability to decide our own sense of femininity.
Although many on twitter wrote sexualized, misogynistic comments regarding her courage and strength, her forthcoming and honest presentation of her surgery will remain a testimony to the autonomy that women can have. Being feminine is exactly what women want it to be, as defined by: you.
No surgery or anything else can tarnish that identity. Jolie provides proof that we can choose to take control of our lives.