Mom of 6 Angelina Jolie Is the Ex–Angsty Teen Who's Changing the World for Good

I was weird as a teenager. I motored around, doing weird things with my body, straightening my hair more than it could take, and not really doing a good job of figuring out where I fit in. You were weird as a teenager, too. You maybe drank too much at high school parties or wore jelly shoes out of the house when you were really too old to. I bring this all up because I recently learned that Angelina Jolie was weird as a teenager, too, and that explains why she's so inspiring: She gets it. She gets me, she gets you. She gets her adopted kids and her biological kids and the kids who are refugees in "forgotten emergencies." She's a millionaire, a Hollywood movie star, and a UN envoy. We shouldn't get to feel like she understands us at a basic level. And yet, we do. And, for that, we honor her as a #MomWhoInspires.

Advertisement

Angelina's weirdness came in the form punkness and gothness in high school. She wore leather and dog collars and wrote things like "DEATH: EXTINCTION OF LIFE" on her notebooks, and she was just as angsty as we were. She had a complicated relationship with her school, her family, and, most significantly, herself. I get that. I was there at one point, and you probably were, too. 

After high school, she left her parents' home, got an apartment in the city, and started acting. She wasn't proud of the first few projects she worked on, and she thought about quitting. She didn't.

More from The StirWhat This Columbine Killer's Mom Wants Every Parent to Know

She married Jonny Lee Miller in 1996. It didn't last long. She married Billy Bob Thornton in 2000. It didn't last long, either. She starred in more movies, won her first Academy Award, and became less of a person we could realistically relate to. But underneath the glam and the success, the death-obsessed, black-clad high school–era Angie poked through, making her the most relatable A-lister on the market. 

So. That brings us to 2001. We already love and understand Angelina on a deep, angsty level. Then she goes to Cambodia to film for Lara Croft. While she's there, she sees how war left the country in pieces and children forgotten and desperate. She saw them and she helped them, and that's when she became an inspiration.

She officially adopted her first son, Maddox, from Cambodia in 2002, but she didn't just forget about the rest of the children there -- she visited refugee camps, met and worked with people on the ground through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and donated millions of dollars to their cause. She rerouted her entire life for a country that she wasn't obligated to help in any way, and that's an amazing thing. 

Angelina didn't stop at Cambodia, either -- she looked further and found "forgotten emergencies" everywhere. She looked for the people and the countries suffering from tragedies that the world resoundingly ignored, and she helped them. She went to villages and war zones, she donated money and time and talent. She's given everything to countries that really need it. She pays attention to the world around her, and she's asking the same from all of us, too.

More from The StirAngelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Share How Surgery Strengthened Their Bond (VIDEO)

Finding the children in all these forgotten emergencies is kind of her thing -- she adopted Maddox from Cambodia, Zahara from Ethiopia, and Pax from Vietnam. When Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne were born, she sold the first photos of them to tabloids and donated the resulting $21.6 million to charity organizations that would give back to the kids in need and the countries in crisis.

So kids are her thing, despite whatever the stories about pet rats and blood-filled necklaces lead you to expect, and she mothers like a champ. She dosen't try to erase the culture her kids were born into -- she takes her adopted kids back to the countries in which they were born, she finds them nannies that speak each country's native language, and she celebrates and teaches them the heritage she doesn't share with them. 

When Angelina got married in 2014, the veil of her Versace wedding dress was embroidered with drawings from her children. That just about sums it up -- with Angelina, family comes before perfection, and the rest of the world comes before Hollywood. She doesn't really care what we expect of our celebrities and movie stars, and that's her greatest strength. It's a gift she gives to us, and one that translates to immeasurable goodness given to women and children around the world.

She doesn't do what's expected, and that's a little weird. And if our weirdness started on the outskirts of high school cliques like hers did, maybe that means we, too, can turn it into the kind of good Angelina has.

 

Image via Featureflash/Shutterstock; design by Anne Meadows

Read More >