Charlotte Hannah
May 14, 2013

Angelina Jolie Writes Powerful Op-Ed About Having a Double Mastectomy

In a piece published today in the New York Times, actress and director Angelina Jolie revealed she recently underwent a preventive double mastectomy to decrease her risk of getting breast cancer.

After discovering she’s a carrier of a gene called BRCA1, which greatly increases a woman’s chances of getting breast or ovarian cancer, Jolie decided to take action. By having the double mastectomy, Jolie decreased her potential to get breast cancer from 87 percent to below 5 percent.

In the article, Jolie explains she wanted to go public with her story to give hope to other women who may carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, to create a conversation around the treatment and screening options available to women who may be carriers and to normalize the decision to undergo what some consider to be a radical surgery.

Radical or reasonable?

Earlier this year, 24-year-old Miss America contestant Allyn Rose announced she planned to undergo a double mastectomy to lower her chances of developing the same fatal breast cancer that took her mother’s, grandmother’s and great-aunt’s lives. Although medical professionals agreed her decision was a smart one, Rose faced criticism and even received hate mail from fans who felt that keeping her breasts intact was more important than her health. Her potentially life-saving decision was called “extreme” by those who felt she was too young (her mother had her first bout of cancer at age 27), overreacting or not considering her options.

Screenshot by

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Jolie’s story preemptively hits back at the critics who consider preventive double mastectomies to be a cause of so-called unnecessary loss of femininity – critics that, yes, have already begun mourning the loss (gag) of her breasts.

“On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman,” she writes. “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”

I agree. Powerful and inspiring stuff.