You can’t have missed the furore over Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy in order to avoid the chance of developing the breast cancer which killed her beloved mother. Whether you think having such radical surgery is going too far or a reasonable sacrifice, it’s hard to fault her decision to make it public; women who might be facing a similar decision might feel reassured by the fact such a high profile celebrity has made a point of not sweeping the surgery under the carpet.
In a Kylie-esque kind of way, it might also make a few more women breast aware, which can only be a good thing. If one of the world’s most famously beautiful women is willing to have her breasts removed to safeguard her health, doesn’t that send out a positive message that we are not just the sum of our body parts?
Well, no. Not if you read some of the comment that’s been posted about it online, or written in magazines and newspapers. Some people seem almost affronted that Ange chose to remove her ‘assets’ on a whim, even though there was an 87% probability that she too would be affected by breast cancer at some point due to the presence of the faulty gene.
It made me think; women’s bodies, especially celebrity bodies, are almost public property. The fact that it was Angelina’s breasts that were removed seemed to have caused such a stir – more of a reaction than perhaps if she’d opted just to have her ovaries removed, which I believe she is also planning to do. Would there have been such a fuss if she’d checked into a clinic for a preventative appendectomy? I doubt it very much. Our breasts seem to embody our femininity, and a decision to have them removed seems to be much more of an issue to the media and commentators than any other part of us. How dare a beautiful, healthy woman remove part of her body that makes her desirable?
I believe that the current fat hysteria is very similar. It’s not about our health – many overweight men and women are healthy, fit and well, and don’t need to reduce their body size to live fulfilling, productive and healthy lives. The fact is, women especially, are seen as objects of desirability for men, and so if we offend the general consensus on what is deemed to be attractive to men, we’re considered to be less feminine, lesser women. We’re ‘deliberately’ making ourselves less attractive to men (although to be honest, there are so many men who love women for who they are and find them gorgeous at any size) and that’s unthinkable.
It’s NOTHING to do with our health. The frenzy over Angelina has nothing to do with her health. It’s all about LOOKS. And that makes me sad.
(image by www.promiflash.de via Wikimedia Commons)