Fifty years ago today (Aug. 5, 1962 to be exact), screen legend and larger than life beauty icon Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bedroom from probable suicide. She was 36 years old. Details on the nature of her death and several conspiracy theories have been hotly debated over the years, but the subject of this piece is not to focus on the details of her death, but rather to celebrate her life in some small way on the 50th anniversary of her untimely death.
Sometime in 2011 I remember reading about a famous Hollywood actress that was getting her very visible Marilyn Monroe tattoo removed. Her reasons behind getting the tattoo removed were because Marilyn “was a negative person…disturbed, bipolar” and that she “did not want to attract this kind of negative energy” in her life. This rationale made me sad. It was sad that a person (Marilyn Monroe in this case) could be so easily dismissed because she wasn’t “perfect”. I’ve heard this sentiment echoed by others over the years – that Marilyn was no great woman, she was a mentally and emotionally weak person not deserving of the fame and glory bestowed upon her. Doesn’t this seem like an awfully harsh way to live – that no one is deserving of laud unless they are totally mentally intact, completely emotionally balanced as well as being physically beautiful and talented? I’m exhausted just thinking about having to be like that all the time!
Additionally, the actress’ statement about Marilyn Monroe is disrespectful to everyone that has a mental illness. To take it a step further, it’s also a covert way of saying that people in general are just not good enough unless they have all their ducks in a row, at all times, 365 days a year, seven days a week. This perfectionist line of thinking is unrealistic, harsh and damaging. It doesn’t allow for a free flowing way of being (for oneself and for others) to be themselves, warts and all. There’s no such thing as a perfect person. Well, I take that back – we actually are perfect in our imperfection. Marilyn was perfect – even if she was bipolar or mentally unstable (of which I cannot confirm if she was these things but that’s beside the point). Idolizing only Marilyn’s sexuality is objectifying and doesn’t allow her to be seen as the complex and wonderful individual that she was. She was a unique woman with many facets to her personality. Any mental issues she may or may not have had do not diminish her light in any way. She was not just a beautiful moving image on a big screen. She was a real person, a real woman and that is what made her lovable, radiant and yes, perfect even.
Let’s not fall into the trap of valuing people (including ourselves) only for their “good” qualities or when they exhibit behavior that we deem appropriate. Everyone has a wonderful mix of positive, negative and everything in between characteristics. It’s okay to fuck up sometimes. We all do or say things that we aren’t proud of – we all do the best we know to do at at the time, and then we do better when we learn how to rise above our negative or injurious behavior. It’s okay. Forgive others for not being perfect. Forgive yourself, too.
Shown below are some photos of Marilyn taken from Something’s Got to Give, the last film she worked on before her death. The movie was disrupted by Marilyn’s personal troubles and after her death in 1962, the film was abandoned with much of its footage remaining unseen for many years.
On another note, because I’m a beauty product junkie, I love reading about the beauty products Marilyn used. Below is a compilation of some her favorites.
Marilyn loved the Erno Laslo line. A jar of this nighttime cream, Erno Laslo Active Phelityl Cream was found on Marilyn’s nightstand at the time of her death.
She was also a fan of Nivea basic cream for moisture – she used it to help make her skin glow under the bright studio lights.
Erno Laslo Phormula 3-9 was created especially for Marilyn to fade a scar on her stomach.
Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Beauty Oil and 15 splashes of cold water was Marilyn’s nightly beauty ritual. On a side note, I’ve been using an oil cleanser for years and swear by them – they are the absolute best at removing every speck of dirt, oil and makeup (even waterproof) and leave the skin so smooth. I use DHC’s version every. single. night. A MUST HAVE beauty item.
Marilyn reportedly told a reporter that she “wears five drops of Chanel No. 5” to bed; she also was said to have taken ice baths sprinkled with the perfume.
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream was another one of Marilyn’s favs…
For her famous cat-eye, Marilyn used Elizabeth Arden’s Smoky Eyes Powder Pencil in Espresso on her upper and lower lash lines.
For creating drama on her lashes, Marilyn used Helena Rubinstein Long Lash Mascara. Earlier this year, a tube of her mascara sold at auction for $5,625!
Now I’m off to cook some popcorn, kick my feet up on the couch and enjoy a Marilyn movie in celebration of this wonderfully imperfect woman’s life. And it feels good to know I don’t have to be “perfect” to be ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! Just like Marilyn.