I’ve loved Marilyn Monroe ever since I was a little girl. When I grew up, I spent a lot of time researching her, reading everything I could get my hands on to try and uncover the real Marilyn. I felt possessive of her, and when I saw girls trying to emulate her, or saying they loved her, too, I wanted to grab them and tell them “You don’t even know her.” (Not that I did, either, but that’s entirely aside from the point.) I feel like it’s ‘cool’ to like Marilyn. And I guess I get sad and angry when I know that someone is just worshiping her because she’s famous for being sexy. There was so much more to her than just her rampant sexuality.
It’s been 50 years since she passed away at her home in Brentwood at the age of 36. Since I was little, I always dreamed of going to see her house and on her 50th anniversary I did it. I made the drive out to 5 Helena Drive and stared at a gate. I thought about all the things I knew about her and I realized how much I relate to her. I’m not blonde, I’m not overly sexy, and I’m not famous. But I am troubled, I am damaged, and I am trying to overcome it all.
People look down on her and say she was a ‘dumb blonde’ a ‘bad actress’ and ‘a whore’. In my opinion, she was far from dumb—she took classes at UCLA and she did well. She devoured literature and was forever trying to learn to better herself. She challenged herself to do better every single day. She wasn’t a bad actress—she studied under the greats, and Jack Lemmon said she was an amazing comedienne. She was insecure and anxious and too in her own head. She got in her own way. She was not a whore. She slept with men, and a lot of men. I read one article that said Marilyn would sleep with men as a way to thank them for a nice date, and hey. Sex …
… was meaningless to her because of her past. She was a little girl lost and she was never given a chance.
What strikes me the most about Marilyn was her ability to pick herself back up. Can you imagine working so hard to be good, smart, respected, and every day, millions of people publicly say the worst things you think about yourself privately? How long could you keep up that fight? How long before you just curl up in bed and never come out again? But no—that wasn’t Marilyn. She always came out again.
I know that’s odd to say about someone who ultimately overdosed, but it’s the truth. Marilyn had a lot of mental disorders. She had depression, anxiety, and some say bipolar disorder. And she was encouraged to have these things, too. Her therapist saw her up to twice a day every day—and personally, I think that much therapy can be really damaging. That much therapy is manipulating. She was used and abused her entire life. She was abused by her foster families, she was used by the studio, she was abused by Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and she was tossed aside by everyone.
But I don’t want to spend all my time writing about the sad Marilyn, I want to write about the inspirational Marilyn. I want to write about how brave she was. How she could laugh at both herself and sex, and how she made sex funny and fun and okay. She was feminist. Say what you want; she was a feminist. She made no apologies for being a woman, and it was obvious that she loved being a woman. She played by her own rules. I want to talk about her being a real feminist icon. I want to talk about her romance with Joe DiMaggio and how much they loved each other. I want to talk about how smart she was. I want to talk about how reading about her, learning about, changed me and helped me. I wanted to talk about all that … until now.
I mentioned how angry I get when people worship her for all the wrong reasons—it makes my skin crawl. But now that I’m here and could talk about all the things I know … I don’t want to. Everyone has a piece of her—and that piece is all the same. Sexy, silly, glamourized Marilyn. I feel like I know something you don’t. I feel like I’ve tapped into something with Marilyn Monroe that’s all my own. And you know what? I’m not going to share it. I’m not going to share my thoughts and feelings on the most overshared woman in history. This one … this time … she’s going to be all mine. My Marilyn.