Over at Big Fat Deal, they’re discussing a Gawker thread about “curvy” women that I really, really don’t recommend reading — but I couldn’t resist posting about one of Mo Pie’s observations on it:
Marilyn Monroe’s name is dropped. Maybe there should be a Monroe’s corollary to Godwin’s Law.
Oh, lord, YES THERE SHOULD. As an online discussion about fat women grows longer, the probability of a mention of Marilyn Monroe’s dress size approaches one.
Y’all. Seriously. I know Shapelings aren’t likely to pull the “Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16” argument, but for the benefit of the whole entire internet, I need to say this: STOP IT.
Marilyn Monroe was not ever, ever fat — or anything close to it — let alone plus-sized. At times, she was slightly heavier than today’s ingenues, but so are a lot of fifth-graders. As for the dress size, you can check out Snopes for the full treatment, or you can just digest these facts:
- Sizing has changed. I usually wear a size 16 now. In the fifties, I probably would have worn a 20 or 22, minimum.
- The “Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16” myth might also come from a dress of hers being auctioned as a contemporary British size 16, which is roughly a U.S. 12. And that was only an estimate.
- She was 5’5 1/2″, and the highest recorded weight for her is 140 lbs. The highest recorded waist size is 23 inches. Even if those numbers were fudged (and they might very well have been), she would have had to weigh nearly 20 pounds more than her highest recorded weight to have the same BMI as this woman.
- Once again, I am a contemporary U.S. size 16 (more or less). I’m 5’2″ and 185 lbs., and I have a 34-inch waist. I do not look like Marilyn Monroe.
- Even if Marilyn Monroe at one time owned a dress with a size 16 label in it? She was, for most of her adult life, clearly not a fifties size 16, let alone a contemporary one. How do I know this? I HAVE EYES.
I tried to represent a range of different sizes there since, like most women, Marilyn wasn’t exactly the same size throughout her short life. In a couple of those photos, yeah, sure, she would be considered “Hollywood fat.” But, setting aside the fact that “Hollywood fat” is FUCKING INSANE, the more interesting point is that she doesn’t necessarily look too fat to get work today in all of them. That last photo, and the Seven Year Itch one? Are, like, Scarlett Johansson/Catherine Zeta-Jones/Salma Hayek-style “curvy” (which is to say, “not emaciated”). She’s not even America Ferrera “fat,” for fuck’s sake. And speaking of which, if you Photoshopped the shit out of the pink bathing suit shot — which is exactly what would happen if she were a contemporary starlet? She’d be ready for the cover of FHM.
The other three were the “fattest” pictures I could find of her on Google. And the woman in those photos is not going to be opening a Lane Bryant charge account any time soon, I’ll tell you what.
I have no idea why the “Marilyn Monroe was a size 16!” myth has gained so much goddamned traction, but it needs to stop. Because it only reinforces a more damaging myth, that fat people are too stupid to realize we’re fat. That somehow, our eyes and brains and mirrors don’t work the same as thin people’s, so we delusionally believe we’re not fat — we’re just the same as Marilyn Monroe! — which is the only possible explanation for why we still are fat. ‘Cause if we knew, we’d have stopped it already, right? We’d have put down the tray of donuts and taken up running, which everyone knows are the keys to making any fat person thin.
Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful, curvaceous woman. But she was not remotely fat. And she was certainly not ever a contemporary size 16.
All of the fat women I know are well aware of those facts. It would be awesome if the internet stopped acting like we aren’t.