Marilyn Monroe, size 16?

So I was putzing around on the web the other day, and stumbled upon this Snopes article about Marilyn Monroe. I know that I, over time, have constantly used the “Marilyn Monroe was a size 16!” argument to keep people from saying that size was a measure for beauty. I’ve pulled it out frequently lately, and would like to take it all back.

According to Snopes, Marilyn wasn’t actually a size 16! The article linked above was written as a response to Elizabeth Hurley saying that she would “rather kill [herself]” than be as fat as Marilyn Monroe. I had found that quote in some research I was doing to jump-start my poetry project, and it made me fume. Marilyn is a sex symbol! There’s nothing wrong with her size!

But here’s the truth from Snopes: the “Marilyn’s a size 16″ rumor came from an article printed that one of her dresses, which had been auctioned off, had a tag saying it was a British size 16. First of all, that would translate in modern days to an American size 12. Second of all, in the 1950s, that size would be equivalent to a modern day size much smaller than 16. Add in the recorded weight and height of Marilyn (115-140lbs, and 5’5”), she wouldn’t even be CLOSE to plus size. She’s right in the middle of a healthy BMI (at 23.3) even at her largest.

Snopes finishes by saying that Marilyn and Elizabeth Hurley would probably be nearly the same size. Which make me want to say to Hurley, whoops, better kill yourself now. You’re as fat as a beautiful, skinny, sex symbol. That must really suck for you.

Originally, I mourned the loss of being able to call this beautiful woman plus size. But after thinking about it, I realized it’s a little more important to show women that Marilyn was HEALTHY and a NORMAL SIZE. She was not fat. She was not even close. So we shouldn’t let this rumor that she was a size 16 spread because it will give women a twisted view of what IS plus size.

So spread the word. That’s why I’m writing this post. Even though some of you reading may have already found it.


10 thoughts on “Marilyn Monroe, size 16?

  1. The other issue I have with pulling out Marilyn Monroe as a positive example is that I don’t really consider her the ideal to strive to become on any level. Yes, she was beautiful and sexy. But she was really commodified by culture in questionable ways and played into many troubling standards in other areas of her life. Instead of being the ideal beauty, maybe we should see her as a warning against being antipathetic towards those with mental illnesses.

  2. I read “Blonde” by Joyce Carol Oates. Marilyn Monroe may have been beautiful on the outside, but her personal demons and those who controlled her made her life a living hell. Some days I doubt she even knew what size she was or WHO she was.

  3. Now that was very bad of Ms. Elizabeth Hurley!!!!
    I personally feel that Marilyn Monroe was a lovely person. Genuine at heart. True she had her mood swings but then she tried to adjust herself with all the different people in her life…

  4. It’s still a great accomplishment that Marilyn Monroe is even a size 12 and here’s why. Nowadays “beautiful” women are actually very underweight. America now holds the standards of beauty below the size of about 5. 8 is “normal.” Anything above double digits is seen as overweight by Hollywood. If you think I’m wrong look at the models in any magazine or commercial. They range from about size 2 to -2. And yes there are negative sizes. No grown woman is supposed to be a size 0, I don’t care what anyone says….

  5. Just a quick comment: The Hollywood Movie Museum has fifteen of Marilyn Monroe’s dresses, which range, according to the caretaker, from sizes 4 to 8 by today’s sizes. The white dress she wore in “The Seven Year Itch” would be a size 8 today.

    So…actually she was bigger than Elizabeth Hurley, who probably would want to drop dead if she hit an 8.

    But that is because she is shallow and emaciated.

    As someone whose weight also fluctuates between 4 and 8, I would tell Elizabeth Hurley to go eat a cheeseburger.

  6. I just now read this, so, sorry I’m late to the party, but what is with the jab at Roseanne in that Snopes article? Why is THAT necessary?

  7. i was actually just looking up size chart for research today and a size 12 back before the size charts changed in the 1970’s is a size 4 in todays standards….if that helps any…

  8. According to Neiman Marcus, which excells in small running sizes, Marilyn was never larger than a 6.
    If she had to wear a bigger size, it was for the girls up top, if you know what I’m saying.

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