Marilyn Is Not Justification to Be Plus-Sized
A war is raging within this world, some may not even be aware of its presence. It is a global war; it is a world war. It is the war of sizes. Fashion designers of today see fat as a taboo, but as the world is slowly becoming bigger in size, it leads to a contradictory situation. While models are anywhere from the young size 00 to size 4, women in the United States of America weigh an average of 162.9 lbs and wear a size 14 (Vesilind, 2009). Eating disorders have been on the rise for the past thirty years (Harrison & Cantor, 2006); while it is still argued what causes eating disorders, sociocultural factors are suggested to be a part of it.
At the forefront of this war, however and ironically, is the late actress Marilyn Monroe. Why is this? Plus-sized people and their allies argue that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16 and still sexy! One such popular meme states, “Marilyn Monroe: proof that you are still sexy when your thighs touch.” All of this, however, is ill-informed and badly researched information. Marilyn Monroe was not a plus-sized model and should never be regarded as such.
Let us begin with the basics, Marilyn’s weight, height, and her measurements. Marilyn reached a modest 5’5. Her weight fluctuated between 115—121 lbs due to her pregnancies and at her absolute heaviest she weighed 140 lbs. For her height, Marilyn was never overweight, even at her heaviest. Her measurements are a bit of a debate though because legitimate sources tell two different but similar stories. The movie studios she worked for claimed her measurements were 37-23-36 (inches); however, her dressmaker (and perhaps the more reliable claim) said Marilyn’s measurements were 35-22-35 (inches), a perfect hourglass figure.
This moves us into our next discussion about Marilyn’s sizes because that is a huge argument for the plus-sized debate. In the 50s and 60s, Marilyn wore a 10, 12 dress size and size 8 pants. It is important to realize that sizes have changed over the years. “Vanity Sizing” is a phenomenon where brands change their sizes so that women who usually fit in a size 12 can fit in a size 6 or 8 (Clifford, 2011). Marilynettes, diehard Marilyn fans, have speculated (and formulated through comparison with her measurements) that Marilyn would be anywhere from a size 4 to a size 6 in dresses.
Now, let us talk about the ill-researched arguments.
This picture of Marilyn Monroe by Sam Shaw is infamous on Tumblr for the “plus-sized” girl argument. It comes in a variety of forms, but the message is always the same: how women in general have declined to such degradation as the skinny models of today. Let me give you some background information for the time period at which it was taken. Marilyn discovered that she was pregnant in July of 1957; this was around the time the pictures were taken. Marilyn was pregnant during these photos. The following month, however, she suffered her second miscarriage.
Arguments against this article will scream, “But she wasn’t skinny! She was a curvy girl!” I will concede to that point, but not entirely. The word curvy as we know it today has become misconstrued to the point that it means something for one person and something entirely different for the next. For one person, it may mean having an hourglass figure, but for another it may mean being plus-sized. Marilyn Monroe as defined by her measurements was not a plus-sized girl, however. Like many of the actresses of yesterday, Marilyn had the rare hourglass figure; only eight percent of the female population has it today. Her waist was a 22 to 23 inches. She was, and is speculated to be, a size 4 to 6 by our standards today. Marilyn was a tiny girl blessed with curves in all the right places.
In conclusion, Marilyn Monroe as a common front for the plus-sized argument is nothing more than a lie to say the very least. The argument sprung from ill-researched information and quick impulse to assume without knowing the truth.