Friday, January 9, 2009

The Price Of Perfection

When I was a teenager, my very favorite Hollywood figure was not Madonna or Drew Barrymore. It was Norma Jean Baker. I had numerous biographies, posters, movies and even a life sized cardboard stand up in my room. I was fascinated by this woman who, despite having rough personal life, captured the hearts of millions of people. The more I read about this woman, the more I loved her, pitied her and wished I could have known her. She led a tragic life, riddled with substance abuse and rejection. She never was able to have children, despite it being the very thing that her heart desired. My fascination with her was not about her dramatic personal life. It was her real beauty and the lesson I learned from her inability to love herself.

As a young woman, Norma Jean was stunning. She was sweet and radiated innocence. She was unashamed of her body. Her auburn curls, milky skin and curvy figure caught the eye of many. The photographers loved her and men fell hopelessly in love with her. Then...Hollywood got a hold of her and turned her into this woman:

Norma, known to her fans as Marilyn Monroe, plummeted after becoming famous. Her life was a whirlwind of drama and trying to find happiness, despite having everything a girl could seemingly want. Males worshipped her. Females longed to be her. Her beauty regimen became a mix of platinum hair, bedroom eyes and always trying to be a size smaller. Suddenly, the beauty she was born with, was no longer enough. Everything she did to improve herself was for Hollywood. She struggled to fit the mold that producers wanted her to. In the end, Norma Jean could no longer handle the pressure of trying to be the sex symbol that America wanted her to be. She never truly knew what it was like to look in the mirror and love the woman who stared back at her.

I wonder how different her life would have been if she had ever come across a place like this? A place where we strive to help women love themselves, regardless of size. A place where beauty is not limited to a size, a hair color or a nationality. I wonder how different she would have felt if somebody had just said, "You are beautiful and sexy without the bleach, the diet pills and the image of perfection." True, she never would have achieved the status that she did, but was it really worth it in the end? I was so sad when I came to the part of Norma Jean's biography when she died. I mourned the loss of Norma Jean. Despite what everyone says about her suspected murderer, in my mind, the one who really killed her was Marilyn Monroe.

Elton John states it succinctly in his song, "Candle In The Wind"

Goodbye Norma Jean

Though I never knew you at all

You had the grace to hold yourself

While those around you crawled

They crawled out of the woodwork

And they whispered into your brain

They set you on the treadmill

And they made you change your name

And it seems to me you lived your life

Like a candle in the wind

Never knowing who to cling to

When the rain set in

And I would have liked to have known you

But I was just a kid

Your candle burned out long before

Your legend ever did

Loneliness was tough

The toughest role you ever played

Hollywood created a superstar

And pain was the price you paid

Even when you died

Oh the press still hounded you

All the papers had to say

Was that Marilyn was found in the nude

Goodbye Norma Jean

From the young man in the 22nd row

Who sees you as something as more than sexual

More than just our Marilyn Monroe.


  1. Kadi, what an amazing post! Gave me the chills and made me tear up. I love Norma Jean aka Marilyn Monroe-I fell in love with her when I was a kid. Candle in the Wind is one of my favorite songs!

    True Femme is such a great idea and I commend you for starting it!

  2. thanks for the invite to join you at True Femme...Marilyn was a beautiful lady ...Candle in the Wind was so right.....will be your post and visiting often..

  3. After ready this post I wanted to comment but the only words coming to me at that moment were...WOW, Kadi, WOW thanks!

    Thanks to the forces that lead me to the internet and finding Danielle's blog to following this one.

  4. that song makes me is so so sad. It really is important to realize that we are who God made us--and to be ok with that.


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