To commemorate 50 years since Marilyn Monroe tragically died Getty Images, in association with David Gainsborough Roberts are displaying iconic images alongside original dresses and costumes worn by Marilyn at their gallery in central London. While you may think Google images throws up every picture documented from her time in the limelight some photos are on display for the first time.
What is so refreshing about this exhibition, and I say this as someone with a sizable ass, is being surrounded by photos of someone with curves. Marilyn Monroe’s dress size is a much debated myth. For every article laying claim to her taking a size 16 dress there will be another insisting she was a size 12.
What is clear from the Getty Images exhibition is she certainly has B&H (boobs and hips) and her much discussed figure looks firm, full of life, sexy, svelte and she’s clearly comfortable in her skin. Genuinely this exhibition should be on the school curriculum for any teenage girl that has body issues. There is constant movement and an active life coursing through a lot of the photos, no sallow skin or jutting rib cage.
The sex appeal she radiated is classic and subtle, not tacky. Marilyn Monroe’s figure should be considered a realistic and healthy physique, we need to look away from the size zeros on the catwalk. The dresses on display give you a clear idea of what frame this star filled, standing in front of them I couldn’t help but wonder what portion of my figure I could fit into THAT dress from Gentleman Prefer Blondes (scenes from which Madonna famously gave tribute to in her video for Material Girl).
If, like me, you’re sick of paparazzi photos of anorexic looking footballers wives stumbling out of their local tanning parlour in a Pauls Boutique tracksuit then you’ll be swept up into a cocoon of old school glamour and frankly, you’ll want to stay ensconced in the past. Where women dabbed a touch of Chanel No.5 on their chest before slipping on heels and a knee-length dress. That jumped onto bicycles with their playwright husbands wearing sensible knitwear (Arthur Miller) instead of falling into the nearest taxi drunk with legs akimbo.
The tragedy that ended her life is not the focus here (a barbiturate overdose at age 36). For that I applaud Getty Images for truly making this a celebration of Marilyn Monroe’s life. These carefully picked images show warmth and a grounded character. Sometimes melancholy and in private reflection, but mainly they show a playful, stunning and confident young woman.
Not a troubled and tormented soul. Many have aped her but none will ever be her.
Marilyn @ Getty Images is on display at 46 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8DX until 23rd May, entrance is free.