I’ve always kind of liked Marilyn Monroe. My grandmother and sister in law were always big fans of hers. I am more of an Elizabeth Taylor fan but upon meeting my friend Lindsay (who is a die hard MM fan) I decided to borrow an audio book from my local library called ‘The secret life of Marilyn Monroe’ to find out exactly what Marilyn’s story was.
I was thunderstruck at what I heard. From the moment Norma Jean Mortensen was born till the day Marilyn Monroe died, no life could have been harder. She came from extremely humble beginnings to become the most famous (and infamous) woman in the world. Marilyn Monroe is always associated with beauty and glamour. In her 36 years on this earth she has inspired many a career (I’m looking at you Madonna) and emblazoned our minds with an achievable sense of beauty.
Yet I’m always shocked when someone calls her a whore.
Marilyn operated at a different level then most of us. She came of age in a time when women were expected to get married, have kids and keep the house. Marilyn didn’t exactly fit into this stereotype. But she tried. And I’m guess because she failed she was labeled a whore. She made bad decisions, dated the wrong men, drank a little too much and popped too many pills. Oh, and she had sex with more then one man in her lifetime.
I noticed that people who don’t like Marilyn immediately label her as a pill popping drug addict. Now that I’ve heard more of her story, I’m inclined to think those people, who are always screaming that Marilyn didn’t actually say all those things the memes say she did, see a little of themselves in flawed people. Anything that doesn’t capture our interest, or annoys us, we look for a flaw and exploit it. These people think that telling young women not to make Marilyn Monroe their role model are a little misguided. Marilyn is a role model and a dire warning. She created a sense of romantic sexuality without being obscene. She proved you could be sexy, beautiful and flawed but still be loved. Her weakness is what drew people to her. Her mistakes reflect back to us how flawed we all are, and remind us that even the best of us have made awful mistakes. I’m sure if our lives were played out on a public stage, like Marilyn’s were, we would be so quick to judge others. Marilyn paid the ultimate price for the life she chose to live. But I don’t think we can condemn her, without learning from her.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, Marilyn’s story struck a chord in me. Reminded me of all those flawed people I love and continue to love despite their mistakes. Just the way my friends and family continue to love me, despite my shortcomings.
I fell in love with Marilyn today, but only because I see Norma Jean in me.