Marilyn Monroe Is An Icon – But She Wasn’t Plus-Sized

It's a widely circulated myth that Marilyn was a size 16.

Marilyn Monroe

by Bonnie McLaren |

Unsurprisingly, it was Kim Kardashianwho noopener noreferrer} wore in 1962 to sing 'Happy Birthday, Mr President' to John F Kennedy.

It’s since been revealed that she’s been given a lock of Marilyn’s hair by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the museum who loaned her the dress. (Some have pointed out that this slightly creepy gesture shows how Marilyn has continued to be objectified after her death.)

On Monday night, Kim told Vogue that she lost a lot of weight to fit into the iconic, sparkling, outfit. The admission, which it seems Kim casually made, has created a lot of controversy. Losing 16 pounds - in just three weeks - to fit into a dress which she only wore on the red carpet for a few minutes, before changing into a replica, has been seen by most as extreme and unhealthy. Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart called out Kim on her Instagram story, saying her comments set a bad example to fans, and were an example of how toxic the entertainment industry can be.

But it’s started another conversation about the unrealistic beauty standards women have always been subjected to.

Many have pointed out that there’s an irony that Kim - a woman who has profited from having a body that is curvaceous but skinny at the same time - had to lose a lot of weight to fit into a dress owned by Marilyn Monroe, who is still considered to be a plus-sized/curvy icon.

More recently, during an appearance on the US chat show Today, the reality TV star touted that she’s now down 21 pounds since before the Met Gala.

'I looked at it like a role. I really wanted to wear this dress,' she said.' It was really important to me. It actually taught me a lot about my lifestyle and my health and since then, afterwards, I continued to eat really healthy.'

While Marilyn will always be iconic - it’s no wonder Kim jumped at the chance to wear her dress - it’s a myth that the actress was plus sized, and one that still circulates today. (Kind of like some of the quotes which are falsely attributed to Marilyn to sell ‘live, laugh, love’ type wall-art.) It’s frequently reported that Marilyn wore a UK size 16 - but in today’s dress sizes, which are generally cut bigger, this means she would have worn a size 10/12. And going by the fact Kim had to lose so much weight, Marilyn was likely to be even smaller than that.

Yes, Marilyn will always be stunning, an icon, and a symbol of timeless beauty, but she isn’t plus-sized by today’s standards. Especially not when a celebrity had to go on a crash diet - cutting all carbs and sugar, and wearing a sauna suit twice a day - to fit into one of her dresses. It shows how the conversation around women’s bodies, and how big or small they should be, unfortunately still hasn’t changed.

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