Two of Angelina Jolie's daughters have recently gone through surgeries, the actress reveals in a Time essay she wrote in honor of International Women's Day. She says for two months she's been "in and out of surgeries" with her oldest daughter, and more recently a younger daughter had hip surgery. Why is she revealing this? "I have watched my daughters care for one another," she writes, helping one another and finding joy in putting one another first. "Their brothers were there for them, supportive and sweet. But on this International Women’s Day, writing from the hospital, I find myself focusing on my daughters for a moment, and all that I have learned from them and other young girls I have met around the world." Too often, she writes, our expectation that girls be natural caretakers is abused.
"The little girl is expected to take care of others," writes Jolie, who shares six children with ex-husband Brad Pitt. "The woman she grows up to be will be expected to give, and care for, and sacrifice. Girls are often conditioned to think that they are good only when they serve others, and selfish or wrong if ever they focus on their own needs and desires." Instead of exploiting girls' softness, openness, and nurturing instincts, we should appreciate those traits while making sure we are protecting the girls they belong to, even from the most subtle of harmful attitudes. "My message to girls is, fight on, little ladies. Your care for each other will be a large part of your way forward," Jolie concludes. "Hold your nerve. Know your rights. And never let anyone tell you that you are not precious and special and, above all, equal." See her full essay here. (Read more Angelina Jolie stories.)