Monday, 17 June 2013 13:19

The Impact of Jolie's Story

Angelina Jolie’s May 14 op-ed in the New York Times has generated much media attention regarding breast cancer and the difficult decisions women must face when confronted with cancer (see Laurie Lahr’s post from June 7). However, there are several other aspects of the media coverage that I have been thinking about during the past few weeks. Gayle Sulik, a medical sociologist and founder of The Breast Cancer Consortium, recently published a guest blog in Scientific America (May 20) that notes that the media’s emphasis on awareness and empowerment “easily commercializes almost every aspect of the disease (i.e., awareness, risk, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, research, support – all propped up with a seemingly endless array of pink products and medical interventions.).” Jolie’s op-ed encourages women to learn about their risks and options and not be immobilized by fear, while Sulik points out that, “risk itself is a valuable commodity.” Jolie’s story is indeed one of her own personal empowerment; it is also a very high profile story with the potential to enhance the commodification of women’s fears about breast cancer, especially in a society that idealizes “perfect” bodies. There is money to be made on women’s fears and their desires to achieve societal standards of beauty - standards which are exemplified by Jolie.

Published in Pink Ribbon Blog