But before I get all serious, here are some pictures. These are all three coats of Monroe, with a slick of topcoat over it.
I think Marylin would have really dug this polish. It's so beautiful and sparkly, but totally classy at the same time. It also really reminds me of one of the costumes from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", one of my favourite Monroe movies.
She and Jayne Russell are not only drop dead gorgeous in that film, but also surprisingly funny. Russell does my favourite kind of humour - dry, fast, and super sharp. But Monroe largely plays on her public perception as a dumb blonde to get the laughs in this film - she has a great line right at the end of the film that cracks me up every time. When asked if she wants to marry the handsome rich hero just because he's rich, she answers perfectly straight faced, "Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?"
|Even in natural light it glows!|
|Have I mentioned how much I love my Photojojo Macro Lens?|
On the outside Monroe was undeniably beautiful, but in very controlled and deliberate way. Just look at how many pictures there are around where she is projecting the exact same expression - lips slightly parted, eyes lidded, and just a hint of a smile. This was a carefully composed facade, calculated to project exactly the right amount of sexy without being "slutty", the right amount of mystery without being inaccessible. There is a reason people go so bananas for the "lost" photos that surface every now and the. Monroe was so constantly "on" that photographic evidence of any crumbling of that facade is endlessly fascinating.
But on the inside, it was a totally different story. She struggled with mental illness all her life, and it's generally believed this struggle led to her suicide. While I'm not aware of any official diagnosis that was ever made public, the generally accepted theory is that she suffered BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which makes her particularly interesting to me because that's what I have. It's always nice when famous people have the same illnesses as you! For those who haven't heard of it before, BPD is more or less a kind of very rapidly cycling bipolar disorder - we get the same manic highs and depressive lows as people with bipolar, but it tends to cycle up and down much quicker. There are several fragments of diary that have surfaced that indicated an inner turmoil totally unseen on her public surface. One particular snippet has stuck with me since I read it, considering how often I am kept up by insomnia -
"on the screen of pitch blackness
comes/reappears the shapes of monsters
my most steadfast companions …
and the world is sleeping
ah peace I need you—even a
This difference between perception and reality is both one of the hardest things to deal with about mental illness, and one of the hardest things to explain to neurotypical people. Christine Miserandino wrote a very moving piece about her experience with having an invisible illness, and while she was actually writing about Lupus, her observations are so applicable to mental illness that a lot of her shorthand is used regularly by almost all the non neurotypical people I know. When we say to each other, 'I'm out of spoons", it's understood that this means "I simply don't have the resources to do what I need to/what you're asking me to do right now". This sort of shorthand is crucial to my ability to function while also having an illness people can't see from the outside. If you know me extremely well, you might be able to read a lack of spoons on my face - but not reliably, and very very few people know me that well. I need a way to communicate that what people see on the outside is not what is going on inside.
I find Monroe fascinating because her interior world and the way she was perceived were so very different, but I find her inspirational as well. And no, not because she was "plus sized". She was stunning, but she was never plus sized by any sane person's reckoning. Marylin Monroe inspires me because she's a great example of how having mismatching insides and outsides doesn't have to stop you getting what you want, and getting where you want to be. Her eventual suicide isn't such a great example, and I'm not particularly keen to emulate that part of her life. But the success she achieved before her death is remarkable, and I find it comforting that her inner turmoil didn't completely cripple her ability to achieve her ambitions. I worry sometimes that my mental illness makes me simply incapable of achieving the success I so dearly want - but looking at how much she achieved in such a short time through talent and sheer force of will reminds me it doesn't have to be so. And Monroe is hardly a lone example, even though this sort of thing isn't talked about a lot -this article over at Rethink.org has a fascinating list of a bunch of other successful women who suffer from mental illnesses.
Do you have a particular celebrity you relate to?