This appeared in Financial Chronicle...
Off with the boobs…!
Surely, there were better options, Ms. Jolie? Did you really have to?
Agreed , the wicked world has always been unnaturally fixated on Angelina’s scrumptious body parts – all of them. But come on. We are talking about the most famous breasts in the world! Angelina has dominated the beauty space longer than any other living female celebrity. Often referred to as ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in the World,’ Jolie is recognized as the ultimate sex goddess. Desirable. Awesome. Perfect. Which is why the news about her double mastectomy last week left us open mouthed and puzzled. Why, Angie, why? Fans moaned.Angie claims to have now brought down her breast cancer risk from 50% to less than 5%.Good for her.The faulty BRCA2 gene she says she inherited may have been tamed by her drastic preventive method. But what about us? We ,who have happily, hungrily feasted on her body beautiful for years? Envied it? No matter how ‘brave’ this mastectomy makes Jolie, there will be millions of fans world wide who will see her through a new filter and feel devastated. Jolie is less Jolie. Cruel as this sounds, it’s true. Such is the immense power of beauty. And our own pathetic need to seek perfection in those lucky enough to possess it.
It is to Jolie’s credit that she has used this very power and special position to put her slender self behind key global initiatives, that have helped countless people. Despite all these wonderful public deeds… despite all the accolades accumulated as a formidable actor,alas, in Jolie’s case, it was always about The Body. And the fascination for The Body was unambiguously driven by our fascination for her perfectly sculpted breasts. Jolie’s shapely right leg, of course, enjoyed a life of its own after she stuck it out provocatively during a photo call at Cannes. But the leg’s reign has been abruptly cut short now. From this moment on, the leg will take a back seat to Jolie’s new, reconstructed breasts. This is serious. We are talking about breasts. Anjelina Jolie’s breasts . And yes, now that we know the originals are gone… as in, we know she had them surgically removed, we are intensely disturbed and disoriented by the act. This incredibly gorgeous woman has made what is perhaps the toughest decision a woman can ever make – she hacked off a part of herself . Hacking off breasts, for any ordinary woman is akin to hacking off her female identity. Sorry, that’s pretty much the deal, no matter how unpalatable it sounds to feminists.
A woman’s relationship with her breasts is hard to decode.Let’s just say it is extremely precious and powerful. A woman will part with her kidney or a lung if she had to, but ask her to sacrifice her mammary glands, and see the reaction. We can safely call it an irrational attachment to a mass of tissue topped with a nipple ( both have their uses). Sounds crazy, but we like our tissue and nipples. A lot! Regardless of shape or size. Breasts are comforting. Breasts are sensual. Breasts provide reassurance and pleasure. Which is why millions of women are asking - was it a must? I mean, surely there were other, less radical medical options?
Jolie says she did it for her children.Even if one buys into the rationality of her argument, and hails her for taking such a bold decision, another part of the brain says, “ Is she nuts? Not every woman who has breast cancer dies of it. There are so many breakthroughs today… there will be many more in the future. Here’s someone who has the means to get the best possible treatment if she ever gets affected. And she goes and opts for a double mastectomy? Really!
There are other basic , personal and touchy questions, too.What happens to Jolie’s sex life? Will Brad and she continue to enjoy conjugal bliss? No change? What about the odd timing for her surgery – weren’t the two of them planning a big wedding soon? And what of her Hollywood career ? Come on! Of course, there are countless leading ladies with reconstructed breasts. And silicon does rule in showbiz. Phir bhi. Now that we all know those boobs aren’t the real things (Jolie has gone into graphic details), will we feel a little squeamish the next time we see her famous cleavage on screen? Nasty, nasty.
I so wish she had hung on to her lovely breasts. And taken her chances. Like millions of other women . Somehow, I find that the braver option.