When Angelina Jolie had her breasts reconstructed after a double mastectomy, she got a bonus she may not have anticipated — a public image makeover.
When the fiancé of Brad Pitt accompanied the “World War Z” actor to his new zombie movie’s London premiere Sunday night, she received so much acclaim it was as if she had returned home after fighting a war. Calling it a “triumphant return to the red carpet,” one report of her appearance noted, “The couple also signed autographs for fans, one of whom gave Jolie a white teddy bear that said on it ‘I love you soooo… much.’ She clutched the stuffed animal as she worked the red carpet.”
That’s a far cry from the public’s perception of Angie as cold, aloof and, well, maybe a little weird. No matter how many foreign lands she visited as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, the mother of six could never shake her image as the bad girl who stole Jennifer Aniston’s husband, made out with her older brother at the Oscar’s and sported strange tatoos.
After announcing she underwent a double mastectomy to avoid getting breast cancer, the “Salt” actress is suddenly being perceived as heroic and, yes, even likable.
The adoration of Jolie began almost immediately after the May 14 reveal of her secret surgery in a New York Times op-ed piece, which she ostensible penned herself.
“Angelina Jolie may not have her original two breasts, but at the moment she seems to have everything else… like the admiration of the world,” wrote a reporter for the New York Daily News.
Judging by the overwhelmingly positive reaction she received on the red carpet Sunday night, the newspaper could be on to something.
Still, there will always be people who want to nurse old grudges. The star’s detractors have already started nit-picking her for choosing the London movie premiere over a close relative’s funeral that occurred on the same day. Her aunt Debbie Martin died of breast cancer, the disease Jolie aimed to avoid with her surgery.
A commenter to a Celebitchy blog post wrote, “This woman just announced a double mastectomy and the headlines read about her ‘breast cancer’ scare. And she went on and on about how it runs in her family and her aunt lay dying and instead of attending a funeral to pay respects, she’s at a Hollywood event.”
Another reader defended Jolie’s choice, saying she would have turned the funeral into a media circus had she attended. “Oh, please,” the Angie supporter rebutted. “Then you would be right here commenting on how she made the funeral all about her. Or how she used the funeral to get further sympathy for her breast surgeries.”
Meanwhile, others have taken issue with Jolie receiving so much fanfare for doing something ordinary women do every day, with far more hurdles and fewer resources.
Yet despite her lingering critics, many Angie watchers would agree that even though the “Maleficent” actress lost her breasts, she serendipitously gained sympathy, admiration and some hard-won affection from a flock of new fans.
More From This Contributor:
Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy Surgery Solves ‘Where’s Angie’ Mystery
From Sex Objects to Art Objects: Kim Kardashian and Angelina Jolie Inspire Nude Fertility Sculpture and Post-Mastectomy Oil Painting
Why Ethan Hawke Loved Kissing Angelina Jolie — Other Good and Bad Celebrity Kissers