So, Marilyn Monroe is an icon, and has been one for over 50 years now. There is no doubt about the fact that she’s influenced the film industry and that her legacy will stand for at least as long as this generation lives. However, I’m used to either seeing people either worshiping Monroe as a role model for women(and quoting her incessantly), or vilifying her for her actions. Here’s precisely why I don’t think either of those paths are healthy or right.
Marilyn Monroe, née Norma Jeane Mortenson, was born to a single mother who simply was not fit to raise her. Her mother attempted to give her to her mother, Marilyn’s grandmother, who gave her to a foster family for the first 7 years of her life. Both her maternal uncle and grandfather dealt with depression and committed suicide, and her mother suffered from severe bipolar disorder and was unable to raise Marilyn on her own. Sadly, she was also repeatedly sexually abused as a child, which likely had a huge influence on her future actions. To escape living in an orphanage, Marilyn married at 16 years old, to a man that she later divorced. By the time of her death at age 36, she’d had 3 different husbands, and had been involved in many extramarital affairs, including one with President John F. Kennedy. She dealt with chronic depression and ultimately ended up committing suicide. Marilyn Monroe is proof that being wealthy and famous does not correct loneliness or sadness, or how a life of unfortunate circumstances can affect one’s psyche.
I don’t want to invalidate everything that Marilyn Monroe has ever said, but living by her quoted advice would be unwise because while she was talented and stunning, she did not live the “cool” life that many people wish to believe she did. If you want happiness, look for advice from truly happy people, or people who have managed to overcome their issues.
It’s crystal clear that Marilyn was beautiful, and it’s fine to appreciate her beauty, and to use her style as fashion inspiration. It’s also fine to use her as body inspiration for being a healthy, average weight. However, viewing her quotes as sage life advice may not be the best idea, and trying to implement them into your own personal philosophy may do more harm than good if you don’t take into account that Marilyn was not a stable, happy woman.
Do not emulate or aspire to be like a woman who couldn’t even be happy with herself. At the same time, don’t criticize her for turning out the way she did, either. Marilyn Monroe wasn’t some untouchable Goddess, but rather a real human being who lived a hard life and somehow ended up in the spotlight. Do not shame her for the courses of action that her mental health issues lead her to take. We should feel love and sympathy towards this woman who never found true love, or true happiness instead of glorifying her life to make it seem just glamorous and exciting, which does nothing but romanticize mental illness and addiction.
Marilyn Monroe was a complex and important figure in film and entertainment who left us far too soon, and we must learn to love her for who she truly was, without judgment or worshiping. RIP Marilyn.