Marilyn Monroe was not a sage.
She did not say things like, “The energy spent trying to get revenge can be better spent creating an amazing life. Forget about them. Remember you.” Nor did she say “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
She did not have an opinion on body image and size zero, because size zero did not exist in the ’50s and ’60s.
She did not every say “forget the drama.” Are you fucking kidding me.
She never cared about a pair of shoes changing the world. Marilyn didn’t have a shoe fetish; she wore very simple things in her daily life and wasn’t the Hollywood bombshell we all think she was, flitting around in tight dresses and furs and diamonds.
She would not have liked seeing these silly words and inane phrases tattooed all over her image.
Marilyn Monroe was a lot of things: a talented comedic actress, a beauty, a tragic figure, an avid reader, a lost little lamb, a strong woman. She was NOT a quote machine or a vehicle for falsely inspirational or “wise” thoughts and sayings from the mind of a 16-year-old.
I’ve held Marilyn near and dear to my heart for many years and seeing these soulless attempts at life lessons attributed to her enrages me. Marilyn would be horrified to think she was giving advice to anyone, and her enduring image as a “beautiful mess” would have broken her heart. Marilyn always wanted to be better, to fix her faults. She felt deeply inadequate for most of her life, and to plaster words across her image and attribute them to her as if she was some sort of oracle would have made her incredibly uncomfortable.
In her lifetime, Marilyn was exploited by everyone: by the studio system, by her family, by her friends. People she barely knew took a single candid photo of her and spun it into a career, spewing lies about her to any tabloid reporter who would listen or any agent promising a lucrative book deal. She had vultures circling her at all times, capitalizing on her looks, her warm sexuality and her talent. Marilyn died without a whole lot to her name, though she left a body of work that is still referenced and revered to this day.
It’s obvious that the Marilyn Monroe image is one that will endure forever. Marilyn died in 1962, alone in her bedroom amidst a swarm of controversy. Who knows how she died? Who knows what she was thinking in her final moments? We don’t know anything, and we never will. Did the Kennedys kill her? Probably not. The myth of Marilyn has far surpassed the real woman, and I implore you teenage girls to read a few biographies of her before you go claiming her as your icon. (Donald Spoto’s is my favorite.)
To capitalize on Marilyn’s image and her life in this way, to write these silly quotes over the body of a woman who was deeply flawed and knew it, is a slap in the face. She’s had so many words spilled upon her throughout the years, from feminist scholars to trashy E! journalists to men like Norman Mailer who want to reflect themselves upon her, that we should let the poor woman have some silence.
She can’t speak for herself, so we should stop speaking for her.