Menopause is not something we look forward to. Though this phase in a woman’s life spells the end of menstruation (which doesn’t sound like the worst thing that could ever happen, given we curse its arrival every month), it signals – biologically if nothing else – that our youth is now behind us. And as for the hot flashes? Well, if we could invent a fridge freezer small enough to fit in our purse, we would. With the popularity of age-reversing innovations in skincare resounding the world over, it seems women, at least for the most part, are not welcoming ‘old age’ with open arms. Here to offer another viewpoint, however, is Angelina Jolie. The actress, mother and humanitarian wrote publicly this year about her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, as a preventative measure against cancer. Following the death of her mother in 2007, Jolie-Pitt has also previously undergone a double mastectomy. Though she’s only just turned 40 years of age, her most recent procedure has forced her body into the menopausal phase prematurely. Refreshingly, this is not something that Angelina scorns. Rather, she embraces it.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the actress surprised readers by saying “I actually love being in menopause. I haven’t had a terrible reaction to it, so I’m very fortunate. I feel older, and I feel settled being older. I feel happy that I’ve grown up. I don’t want to be young again.”
Angelina recalls the moment she experienced the clarity that would eventually lead her to take such brave, positive actions when it came to her own health. “I went to the hospital to visit my mom when she was about to have her ovaries removed. She was very upset, feeling like they were taking out the parts of her that were female,” she remembers. There was another woman down the hall who was wailing. I found out later she was a young woman who hadn’t had children yet – and that put everything into perspective.”
Along with the support of her husband Brad Pitt, she chooses not to have her womanhood and femininity defined by female body parts: “[Brad] made it very, very clear to me that what he loved and what was a woman to him was somebody who was smart, and capable, and cared about her family, that it’s not about your physical body. So I knew through the surgeries that this wasn’t going to be something that made me feel like less of a woman, because my husband wouldn’t let that happen.”
Angelina stars opposite her husband in By The Sea, which she both wrote and directed.