When I was 13, I developed a fascination with Angelina Jolie. Her beauty, talent, intelligence, and sometimes even peculiar behavior made her intriguing and I was hooked.
I’ve been a fan through Lara Croft, the Billy Bob days, the adoptions, the Brangelina “scandal”, the flop of Alexander, and all humanitarian actions overseas. I’ve bought countless magazines she was on the cover of, read her book numerous times, and own 99% of her movies. I’ve passionately defended her name to anyone who bashed her in my presence and longed for the day when we would be friends. Yes, I know that last part is a little crazy.
I’ve seen her in person three times and actually met her twice. To meet someone I idolized and feel her aura and warmth in person is something I will never forget. While those encounters were unmemorable to her, they were life-changing for me.
Through all of the confusion of my adolescent days, Angelina Jolie was figuratively there to remind me that it’s okay to follow your own path; to be who feels right to you. In some ways, I’ve always admired her like a mother, which is not meant to be an insult to my own mother. Angelina just spoke to me and helped me become the person I am today. Some people may not understand why or how that’s possible, but it’s true and the most important thing that she’s taught me is that I don’t have to explain. I can just be me.
That’s why reading her editorial in the New York Times today shook me to my core – it felt so real, like an extended part of my family just went through something traumatic and all I want to do is offer hugs in support. Except she’s not a victim by any means – she’s a hero. Her willingness to have a preventative double mastectomy to protect not only herself, but her children, is so courageous and inspiring. To then reveal it to the world as a way to tell women that they have options is even more incredible:
I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.
I’m sure there will still be hateful critics who will take this opportunity to continue to bash her and call her names. To them I have one thing to ask: how brave are you? Are you brave enough to undergo this kind of procedure? Would you do something so invasive on the chance of prolonging your time with your family? Would you do this when working in such a vain and shallow industry? Would you even consider it? I highly doubt it.
Her bravery has touched my soul and brought me to tears on a crowded train during rush hour. As a woman I salute her. As a fan, I support her even more. My admiration and love for her has now lasted for 13 years and today, I am so proud to say that I am a fan. Even if I wasn’t, today would have changed that because only a heartless person could deny her bravery.
Thank you for everything, Angelina. Just thank you.