by Carol Moore
Having just been to see the exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk of celebrating what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, I thought it a rather poignant topic in which to highlight the life and challenges that being a female in society brings.
Marilyn, whose real name of Norma Jean Baker began life in a rather squalid, turbulent way. Born in 1926, she was given away by her natural mother to foster parents and subsequently appeared to have had the burden of growing up too fast thrust upon her. She even married her next door neighbour so as not to have to return to the orphanage again. What a young person goes through and experiences as such an early age most definitely shapes them for their later years and who they will become. But it isn’t always doom and gloom that must repeat itself, as often, this kick-starts a desire to win, in whatever shape or form, but almost certainly, a catalyst to prove others wrong.
Marilyn was determined to fulfill her lifelong ambition of becoming a successful actress from an early age and became fascinated by Hollywood, glamour and the influence and adulation she saw they received. Perhaps as a contrast to her own lack of attention from an adolescent, she soon realised that she would show the world she meant business. In an age back then where women were not equal to men, she was famously quoted as saying “I have too many fantasies to be a housewife.” Something which back then would have caused great controversy but also as we see now, as others have done too, provide huge inspiration to many females. She also decided to work out, lifting weights, which was abhorrently unheard of, in order to perfect and maintain her wonderful physique. I often wonder if she had been an icon in our modern times, if so many of my friends and acquaintances might not have suffered the negative body image that is placed upon us when seeing the emaciated look of the so called international catwalk models, whose body shape almost most of us will never match.
She threw caution to the wind and became a movie star, albeit a not very successful one initially, but like so many things that we try and fail with, she continued with a strong will and conviction, which eventually paid off. She was reported as quoting “If I had observed all the rules, I’d never have gotten anywhere.” We must take note from this and realise that we make our own destiny in life and if we just keep trying and ignore the haters, it will eventually pay off.
Having married and divorced at an early age, she later went on to marry Joe De Maggio, a famous US sports star, however this wasn’t to last as he all too soon he became very controlling, jealous and resentful of her popularity and success. “I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it” became a key statement for her as she edged towards equaling the male Hollywood stars of that time. How often do we see even now, the challenges of being a female in the workplace balanced with having children, perhaps taking a career break to raise them and returning to the same position as your male counterpart? It seems that although she was living in times gone by, the same challenges are still very much alive.
What we, as women (and every gender in fact) must take from this, is that “Fear is stupid. So are Regrets.” The fear of not having dared try something has hit me many a time and have missed out on trying or doing something, which looking back, would have been just fine! Personally speaking, it took me 6 years to pluck up the courage to go to the cinema alone. My fear was that “people would stare,” or that others would think I was a loner. Having done this for the past 6 years now, my only regret was not having done this earlier!
If we try and follow her motto of “I live to succeed, not to please you or anyone else” we won’t go far wrong. And I personally have taken many key learnings from this wonderfully stylish, powerful, yet gentle woman.
Highly recommend anyone looking to spend an hour strolling around the exhibition to go for it and who knows, you might take your own life lessons from it. Closes February 2017.