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Marilyn Monroe-What Size Was She Really?

While there are numerous reasons to admire Marilyn Monroe, in recent years she has been inundated with descriptions like 'plus size', 'full figured', and 'size 12' and become an icon of body acceptance. But is this an accurate description of her? By Marijane Gray for Immortal Marilyn.

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First, let's look at how sizing has changed over the years......

The perception of Marilyn being plus sized may have evolved from a misunderstanding of how sizing has changed since Marilyn's era. Yes, Marilyn's clothes have labels that say 12 or 14 on them. However, back in the 1950s, sizing was vastly different than it is today. This vintage ad from Frederick's of Hollywood shows that sizing ran from an 8 to an 18, with 8 being the smallest size you could order- the equivalent of today's size zero. If an 8 is a zero, than a 12 would be equivalent to a size four and a 14 would be a modern day 6.

The perception of Marilyn being plus sized may have evolved from a misunderstanding of how sizing has changed since Marilyn's era. Yes, Marilyn's clothes have labels that say 12 or 14 on them. However, back in the 1950s, sizing was vastly different than it is today. This vintage ad from Frederick's of Hollywood shows that sizing ran from an 8 to an 18, with 8 being the smallest size you could order- the equivalent of today's size zero. If an 8 is a zero, than a 12 would be equivalent to a size four and a 14 would be a modern day 6.

Speaking of size zero.......

Marilyn Monroe never said this. There was no such thing as a size zero during her lifetime. The term was coined in 1964 to describe British model Twiggy. It wasn't until a few years later that designers actually started making size zero cloths.

Marilyn Monroe never said this. There was no such thing as a size zero during her lifetime. The term was coined in 1964 to describe British model Twiggy. It wasn't until a few years later that designers actually started making size zero cloths.

Vintage sizing.......

In this 1952 size chart from the Sears catalog, a size 12 would be 32-25-35.

In this 1952 size chart from the Sears catalog, a size 12 would be 32-25-35.

Modern sizing.....

In this 2015 size chart, a size 12 would be 38-30-40. That's a big difference from the 32-25-35 size 12 of the 1950s.

In this 2015 size chart, a size 12 would be 38-30-40. That's a big difference from the 32-25-35 size 12 of the 1950s.

Check the measurements......

While the difference between vintage and modern sizing has changed drastically, inches and pounds have not. This is a publicity photo put out by Fox Studios in 1950 detailing Marilyn's vitals.

While the difference between vintage and modern sizing has changed drastically, inches and pounds have not. This is a publicity photo put out by Fox Studios in 1950 detailing Marilyn's vitals.

Continue checking measurements......

This is Marilyn's actual dress form from Fox Studios, used to tailor her costumes for films. Please note the circled area, where '22 1/2' inches is penciled in for her waist measurement.
Marijane Gray

This is Marilyn's actual dress form from Fox Studios, used to tailor her costumes for films. Please note the circled area, where '22 1/2' inches is penciled in for her waist measurement.

Break it down scientifically.....

Life Magazine

How much did she really weigh?

These are just a few documented accounts of Marilyn's weight. Spanning a 16 year period, her average weight was 118 pounds.
Marijane Gray

These are just a few documented accounts of Marilyn's weight. Spanning a 16 year period, her average weight was 118 pounds.

But what about this picture?

This 1957 photo is often used to illustrate Marilyn being plus size. What everyone who posts it seems to forget is that Marilyn is pregnant in this picture.
Sam Shaw

This 1957 photo is often used to illustrate Marilyn being plus size. What everyone who posts it seems to forget is that Marilyn is pregnant in this picture.

The actual bathing suit.....

This is the actual bathing suit that Marilyn was wearing in the previous photo when she was pregnant. The woman holding the suit is a modern day size six......and the bathing suit was too small for her.
Marijane Gray

This is the actual bathing suit that Marilyn was wearing in the previous photo when she was pregnant. The woman holding the suit is a modern day size six......and the bathing suit was too small for her.

"But she was so plump in Some Like It Hot," you say.....

She was also pregnant during filming

She was also pregnant during filming

But even still......

Despite being pregnant while filming Some Like It Hot, you can see that her dresses for the movie were still pretty tiny.
Antiques Roadshow

Despite being pregnant while filming Some Like It Hot, you can see that her dresses for the movie were still pretty tiny.

Look at her clothes........

Collectors and exhibitors have had difficulty putting Marilyn's clothes on display because they're too small for modern mannequins. One British collector had to modify child size mannequins to display Marilyn's clothes.
ImmortalMarilyn.com

Collectors and exhibitors have had difficulty putting Marilyn's clothes on display because they're too small for modern mannequins. One British collector had to modify child size mannequins to display Marilyn's clothes.

This is another image that makes the rounds.......

......but it's not accurate.

Marijane Gray

Also, books aren't perky.

In conclusion.......

Should you feel beautiful regardless of size? YES.Should you embrace and love yourself just the way you are? YES. Should you just ignore those arbitrary numbers on the labels of your clothes? YES. Should you say that Marilyn Monroe, who worked hard to maintain her figure, was actually five sizes bigger than she really was? NO. There are countless gorgeous, sexy plus size women to admire and look up to for their confidence and their message of all body types being beautiful. There's no need to falsely claim one woman as being bigger than she really was.

Should you feel beautiful regardless of size? YES.

Should you embrace and love yourself just the way you are? YES.

Should you just ignore those arbitrary numbers on the labels of your clothes? YES.

Should you say that Marilyn Monroe, who worked hard to maintain her figure, was actually five sizes bigger than she really was? NO.

There are countless gorgeous, sexy plus size women to admire and look up to for their confidence and their message of all body types being beautiful. There's no need to falsely claim one woman as being bigger than she really was.

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