Yesterday Angelina Jolie shocked the world by announcing she had a double mastectomy, but the major impact of her disclosure still lies ahead. The news is prompting women to talk about and research the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and their own risk of breast or ovarian cancers. And on its newest cover, out Friday, Time magazine dubs the impending cultural and medical implications "The Angelina Effect."
Health professionals expect a wave of women to come in to test their breast and ovarian cancer risk, even though the procedure is pricey and only one-tenth of 1 percent of women share Angelina's BRCA genetic mutation. For those who do decide to remove their breasts, Angelina has, as a sex symbol, helped shift the prospect from a perceived loss of femininity to an expression of it. She addressed her femininity head on in her op-ed: "On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice." And she assured readers that implants can be beautiful, helping to alleviate any shame or embarrassment.
The actress and activist's influence was intentional when she shared her personal decision: "I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices." Being informed and empowered about your health just got sexy.