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Angelina Jolie announced her double mastectomy, and Romola Garai talked about her post-birth stitches. Here’s to more…

I don’t know – you wait all year for some ladies to bust some body taboos and then two come along all at once. On Tuesday Angelina Jolie calmly revealed in the New York Times that she had had a double mastectomy after discovering that her status as a carrier of the BRCA1 gene meant that she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. Her choice – and her decision to go public – was hailed as “inspirational”.

Shortly before that, actress Romola Garai had casually announced to the audience at the Baftas that she hadn’t expected ever to laugh again after having “23 stitches in my vagina” following the birth of her baby. No one complained it was too much information. They laughed and were glad of her candour. Personally, I worried about anatomical accuracy – perineum, surely? But now we’re getting pedantic. The important thing is that taboos have been busted! Here are more we’ve celebrated over the years.

Julia Roberts’s prodigiously sprouting armpits!

Roberts caused some sort of international paparazzi incident when she appeared at the 1999 premiere for Notting Hill with one or two stray hairs protuding from her general underarm areaunder her arms. Thank heavens this was pre-blogosphere, otherwise we’d never have heard the end of it. You’d think. Fourteen years later there are still thousands of articles saying things like: “Julia Roberts goes for the hairy armpit look again.”

Demi Moore and her gigantic pregnant belly!

Described as a “controversial handbra nude photograph” (handbra!), this August 1991 Vanity Fair cover of Moore seven months pregnant is one of photographer Annie Leibovitz’s best- known images. Some newsagents refused to stock the magazine. Others would sell it only in a brown paper bag.

Gail Porter’s bald head!

TV presenter Porter contracted alopecia and went bald “overnight” in 2005 at the age of 34 shortly after a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. “My hair’s fallen out. I’ve not got cancer. I’ve not saved anyone’s life. I’ve just gone out without a hat on,” she said at the time.

Jamie Lee Curtis’s ‘real woman’ body!

In 2002, Lee Curtis, then 43, did a photoshoot with no make-up, styling or airbrushing. The result was displayed next to a photo that took 13 hours in the studio and three hours of airbrushing: “Magazines give you this fake sense of what women are supposed to look like,” she said.

Salma Hayek’s lactating breasts!

On a February 2009 charity tour of war-torn Sierra Leone, Hayek, who was still breastfeeding her one-year-old daughter, nursed the one-week-old baby of a woman in hospital who had no milk: “I actually think my baby would be very proud to share her milk.” © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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