Today is Angelina Jolie’s birthday, but that’s probably not the reason you’ve recently seen her name woven throughout newspaper articles and twitter accounts across the country. The nation first learned of Jolie’s decision to undergo a mastectomy through her personally written op-ed in The New York Times. Some have applauded her choice to go public about her double mastectomy; others condemn it. But today is not the day to voice an opinion on the matter. Instead, on the star’s 38th birthday, we’re here to recognize the way in which Jolie’s mastectomy reveals the truly heart-warming bond she shared with her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. [photo credit: ThisParticularGreg via photopin cc]
Jolie begins her piece in the Times with a simple, poignant statement: “My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56.” Bertrand, a former actress and producer, married John Voight in 1971. The couple had two children: James Haven, born in 1973, and Angelina Jolie, born a year later in 1974. Despite Bertrand’s separation from Voight in 1976, Jolie remained close with her mother growing up. In fact, three years after Bertrand’s death in 2007 — she was only 56 years old — Jolie and her brother released a tribute video for their mother. The video is just two minutes long, but by presenting the public with a piece of never-before-seen family footage, Jolie and Jame Haven succeed in demonstrating the way in which Bertrand triumphed as a mother and a role model.
Angelina Jolie is in no way quiet about the love and appreciation she had, and has, for her mother. In a interview on 60 Minutes, Jolie discusses her mother’s devotion to her children. And, although some might not believe it after watching Jolie adopt children from all over the world, she claims that her parenting could never match that of her mother’s. Jolie’s six children — who, let’s face it, are adorable — are famous throughout the world, frequently featured in magazines and throughout the internet. And while Jolie’s relationship with her own mother is shrouded in a larger veil of mystery, Jolie’s courageous decision to undergo this mastectomy illuminates the strength of the bond she shared with Bertrand throughout her life.
Jolie’s experience watching her mother’s struggle for cancer transformed her into the mother she is today. In her op-ed in the Times, she defends her decision not as an actress, Brad Pitt’s wife, or a philanthropist. Instead, she takes on the role of both mother and daughter in order to fully communicate her decision. And, in doing so, she indirectly reassures mothers all over the world that they matter. Your kids might throw fits, or food against the walls, or punches at classmates on the playground, but at the end of the day, you’re the most important thing in their lives. Happy birthday, Angelina!