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….it’s what we do that counts. A further thought on Marilyn and us

Posted in Life & Love, and Women's issues

Buried under the shade of jacaranda trees
Buried in the shade of Jacaranda trees

Last Summer, my mother suggested a strange outing: “Will you take me to see Marilyn Monroe’s gravesite? I think she is buried in Los Angeles”.

It turns out Marilyn is buried in a pretty, small and serene cemetery just behind UCLA, a street I passed a million times and never noticed. Her tombstone is simple marble, with only her name and dates of birth and death engraved on it, the only adornments some strangers’ bright red kisses and many flowers. Young people, mainly girls, were milling around, proving that Marilyn’s myth endures.

Had she lived today, Marilyn’s story might have had a different ending. She became famous at a time when beauty, intense sexuality and brains all wrapped in one package were problematic to say the least. Even the men who loved her probably had a hard time embracing all of that, compounded with her inner demons.

It would have been easier today for Marilyn to blossom into the woman she wanted to become  than it was then. Easier to figure out who she really was. She knew she could do more in the acting department, she knew she wanted to leave a mark beyond the bombshell character that made her a symbol. Despite her lack of formal education, Marilyn was a voracious reader, with a quick and analytical mind. But the deck was stacked against her then.

Monroe's gravesite

The myth endures not only because of the platinum blond hair, the pouty lips, the myopic sexy gaze and the swinging hips – the myth endures, especially among women, because, in her odd way, Marilyn planted the seed of how to be independent, long before women’s lib came around. Ella is right – Marilyn was a woman ahead of her time, who put her money where her mouth was; often quietly, with no fuss, doing what she thought was right, for her and for others. Shame not enough of the world was listening.

Even today, fifty years after her death, it can be sometimes hard for a woman to make unorthodox choices and not be judged for them. Letting our actions speak, though, is still the wisest policy.

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19 Comments

  1. Love your point of view on this, especially after reading all the comments on the new Dove Beauty campaign–although it tells us to think of ourselves as beautiful, it seems to reinforce that, after all, the lives and successes of women are dependent upon beauty! So your point about the difficulty people have with accepting brains (or values or leadership or achievements) in the same package with beauty is really worth saying again. Things may have been different for MM today but they are not completely different yet!

    April 24, 2013
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    • You are so right. Sadly, we still have a long way to go. Beauty and thin sell and, as women, we can’t help being conditioned from an early age by what we see. While taking good care of ourselves should be enough, many of us aspire to impossible perfection. It will take a while to redefine beauty – in the meantime we should stay the course of teaching ourselves and younger women acceptance and self-confidence. Thank you for your insightful remark. For a great take on the subject, check out the latest post by http://narcissista.me/

      April 24, 2013
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  2. Nothing I love more than an accidental feminist.

    April 19, 2013
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  3. That tiny cemetery is a wonderful little treasure. There are a lot of very interesting people buried there.

    April 19, 2013
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    • I had no idea! Lots of actors, the most recent Farrah Fawcett

      April 19, 2013
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  4. This makes you wonder how things could have been, doesn’t it? Wonderful post. Thanks for the food for thought.

    April 18, 2013
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    • Thanks for reading and taking the time to share

      April 19, 2013
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  5. What a thoughtful observance — thanks to you for crystallizing that Marilyn really was the model of an independent woman. Excellent post.

    April 17, 2013
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    • I am sure she didn’t try to become a model but try hard she did at becoming a well rounded woman. Thanks for reading. Just stopped by your blog and found some lovely posts in there!

      April 17, 2013
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  6. Nicely written post. A nice tribute to Marilyn Monroe aka Norma Jeane Mortenson.

    April 17, 2013
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    • Thank you. I bet she would enjoy all the chatter still going on about her

      April 17, 2013
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    • All your comments prove my point in why younger people are still interested in her: you are all much younger and probably not even born when she died and I am sure you are not captivated just by her looks and cute comedies. Thanks for reading

      April 16, 2013
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      • Ok, had to check to see when she passed so that I could confirm your point ~ and you’re right. But I still find her fascinating especially after your post about Ella. That is why I love blogging ~ because we connect and learn from eachother and we make such amazing friendships along the way!

        April 17, 2013
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  7. Beautiful entry on Ms. Monroe. I’ve always loved her and her feisty attitude. And I completely agree on what you said about her being way ahead of her time.

    Sad how many people admire her only for her looks. There’s so much to tell behind all that glamour.

    April 16, 2013
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  8. I love what you say about her. I think it’s nice to see someone write about her with out criticizing her and who takes the period and her situation into account. I love her, so thank you.

    April 16, 2013
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