On my wall, I have this poster that states “You have to be willing to get happy about nothing,” by Andy Warhol. I took an interest in Mr. Warhol after seeing his glorified picture of Marilyn Monroe, the one with her face in four squares, highlighted in neon. Today, on June 1st, Norma Jean was born and went on to be commemorated as arguably the most iconic sex symbol and woman in history.
I’m going to try my best to explain my love for her; Marilyn has a special place in my heart. Odd as it seems, I can relate to the blonde bombshell and I’m not just referring to the curves. I read an autobiography written by her, simply titled: My Story. It was incomplete, it ended before her marriage to Joe Dimaggio. The way it was written, her thoughts directly to paper, made me see her in a new light. I saw her as something other than the sultry blonde bombshell, with the seductively heavy lidded eyes and that legendary glittering laugh.
Instead it talked about her life, before it all. About just another hardworking, starry-eyed girl, harassed, abused, mistreated, underestimated and stereotyped by society. “I knew I belonged to the public and to the world,not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I’d never belonged to anything or anyone else”
The girl everyone loved to isolate because she had something they didn’t. Something they wanted, longed for and when they looked at her, they saw it, and a realisation dawned on them; they would never have it. In other words, jealousy from the women and fear from the men, the fear of success, of influence and of power, as subtle as that last one was. Men, very important men, waited hours for her to show up to dinner parties; she invented the term “fashionably late”. In her book, she acknowledged this habit of hers. She said she liked soaking in her tub luxuriously as the minutes ticked by, knowing that somewhere there was a room full of men who could have been doing significantly more important things in those minutes but instead, they all eagerly awaited her arrival. “I’ve been on a calendar, but I’ve never been on time.”
She was the reason other actresses of her time wanted to end their lives, as sad as that was. I think most women, whether you believe it or not, have something or another in common with Marilyn. She was just that kind of woman: a legend, as a star and a story. A story that we all see in glamorous pictures and try to chase our entire lives,trying to be as perfect as the legend of Marilyn Monroe. Most of you don’t know it, but you fantasize about being a Marilyn through the current celebrities you idolize. Who do you think they turn to for inspiration, courage, confidence? Blake Lively says that when she doesn’t feel secure enough to walk the red carpet, she just imagines that she’s Marilyn Monroe and it gets her across. The white dress, the one piece bathing suits, the cat eyes; she constantly resonates throughout fashion. “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.”
Its the blonde hair and red lips and the sway of the hips that is the mystery of Marilyn, the one we all incorporate into our daily looks without even realizing it. Forget the men, the suicide. Just remember the legend, because it’s inside you, like its in me. She lives on like a classic couture cocktail dress; the same style, worn over and over again by different people.
Happy Birthday Marilyn, you live on.
— Maha Qureshi