Marilyn’s pic is on Facebook – a lot. Seems like a lot of female fitness bloggers have written about Marilyn, too. It’s my turn. But what I feel compelled to say is a little different than what I’ve been reading lately.
I was born about six months before Marilyn died. Like many, I’ve been fascinated with her, but always considered her an example of a woman trapped by her beauty. When I was younger, I thought Marilyn was considered a tragic figure because of her “probable suicide” from a drug overdose. I don’t remember anyone ever discussing her weight. She was thought of as a beautiful, talented, likable but tormented woman. The conversations were usually about whether she killed herself or whether she was murdered to cover up an alleged affair with JFK. I felt sorry for her.
Now, it seems her new legacy is as a role model for women who have body image issues. I’m sorry. I think that’s twisted. She was not emotionally healthy, and when her image is used because she was “curvy”, I cringe. It’s all the same crap that she dealt with when alive. It hasn’t changed. Part of the problem, if I correctly recall my thinking on this from decades ago, was that she didn’t feel as though people treated her as a whole person. People took pieces of her to use for their own purposes. Marilyn was a character that Norma Jean created – and I think she lost her authentic self (thank you, Michelle, for that post today). So to use her image now…isn’t that the same thing? Honor her for who she was and what she accomplished – not for what she looked like. That’s sad. And it still says the same thing – we aren’t “whole people” – we treat ourselves as if our value is what we look like or how appealing we are?
Maybe this seems weird coming from me. I think most people misunderstand what I’m doing. I lost weight to extend my life. I am now bodybuilding and want to continue competing because it’s a challenge, it’s my “art”, my sculpture. Competitions feel like performance, much like a gymnast performs. I don’t really think about what I look like. Shoot – I rarely brush my hair and I never wear makeup. I’m more proud of being able to do calculus with a pen than I am of being a certain size.
I wish I could tell all those women who look at Marilyn for validation that there is no need to look outward for that. You either feel good or you don’t. If you don’t, start to treat yourself with more self-care, even if it feels a little fake at first. I really wish Marilyn would have done that.