Marilyn Monroe has become more than just a legend. She’s a beauty icon, a movie star myth, almost a religious symbol to men and women alike. Monroe’s fan base is vast and enduring.
They look to her life and art for inspiration: her struggles with poverty, her misfortunate start in the system where she moved in and out of foster homes, abandoned and alone, and then her rise from those ashes of a life to the fame and adoration of Hollywood. Her fans try to emulate Monroe’s adventurous spirit, her resilience, her ambition, and her lightheartedness.
Monroe’s unabashed, even intentional, sexually forward behavior both on and off screen represents a sexuality that is natural, pure, and coy in it’s childlike displays of cuteness, a kind of sexuality indicative of the culture in which she worked. The beauty and film star exuded a kind of charm and honest humility that ultimately, and in spite of her struggles with alcohol and prescription drug addiction, made her a natural role model in the eyes of independent girls and women, especially in a time of a growing national feminist movement.
This intricate woman who suffered and bloomed in the public spotlight is perhaps still so present in the public’s heart and mind, possibly because of how very human she was. She was revered as one of the most beautiful actresses of Hollywood history, but Monroe also ached with the same kind of human condition that the rest of us do.
Her struggles were humble and relatable. Even now, still, large swaths of women struggle with depression, anxiety, sexual abuse and abandonment related trauma. While Monroe’s beauty and grace, evident in her ability to persist in spite of this trauma, is half of her legacy, the full other half is comprised by the controversy surrounding her addiction, be it prescription drug abuse, alcohol binging, her wild and public affairs, and of course the charged nature of her death.