Marilyn Monroe, the style icon who stole the hearts of millions with her iconic smile and her fascinating fashion sense was more than just a "sex symbol."
The actress who is often labelled as "blonde bombshell" was an icon of body positivity and women empowerment, reports DW.
The blue-eyed beauty would have turned 95 years old today, if she hadn't succumbed to death by barbiturate overdose 59 years ago on August 4, 1962.
Marilyn Monroe's troubled childhood
Marilyn Monroe's whose real name is Norma Jeane Mortenson spent most of her childhood in foster homes and orphanages. She never knew her father while her mother was struggling with schizophrenic disease in an asylum.
The actress suffered a series of sexual abuse at the hands of pervasive men. She first encountered sexual abuse at the age of 8 in one of the boarding houses that she spent time in. People who were meant to care for her or protect her have also abused her, including her cousin and the boyfriend of one of her close family friends when she was a child.
Even a foster parent had sexually abused her after taking her behind a barn when she was only 11 years old, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Beyond the two-dimensional character
Monroe's troubled private life has been thoroughly dissected over the decades: objectification, failed marriages, miscarriages, abortions, drug abuse, and rumored liaisons with film studio bigwigs, as well as the Kennedy brothers.
Professionally, her come-hither looks and her breathy voice — a strategy suggested by a speech therapist to overcome a stutter determined the roles she landed and reduced her to a two-dimensional character that catered to male fantasies.
Women in the 1950s simply didn't have enough clout to dictate their terms.
But Monroe was eventually embraced as an icon by the unlikeliest of groups: the feminists. Originally held up as an example of why feminism was necessary to counter the sexual exploitation and objectification of women, she has since been recognized for holding her own and being ahead of her time.
Marilyn Monroe the second woman in the US to start her own production company
Marilyn Monroe who grew weary of "dumb blonde" roles in Twentieth Century-Fox movies wanted to have more say in the scripts and roles handed to her.
"An actress isn't a machine," she once told Life magazine writer Richard Meryman, "but they treat you like one."
In 1955, the actress became the second woman in the US to start her production company "Marilyn Monroe Productions."
The first woman was Mary Pickford, a legendary silent film actor who founded United Artists and helped establish the Academy.
Following a long legal battle between Monroe and Fox. The Fox studio finally struck a deal with her that saw her successfully negotiating for back pay, a higher salary, and a say in scripts, directors, and cinematographers. This was a rare victory for a female actor then. Her company produced The Prince and the Showgirl.
She called out #MeToo encounters
In "Wolves I Have Known," an article she authored for the January 1953 issue of Motion Picture and Television Magazine, she denounced the sexual harassment that ran rampant in Hollywood then.
Describing the men in the industry, the then-27-year-old Monroe wrote: "There are many types of wolves. Some are sinister, others are just good-time Charlies trying to get something for nothing and others make a game of it."
Joan Collins, famous for playing Alexis Carrington Colby in the hit 1980s soap Dynasty, shared on British television in 2017 how Monroe had once warned her as a fledgling actress in America about the job's hazards: "She said, 'Watch out for the wolves in Hollywood, honey. ... If they don't get what they want, they'll drop your contract.'"
She was body positive
Monroe was full-figured. Today's fashion magazines would call her "curvy," as if that itself is an exception to the norm.
Although the jury is still out about her actual dress size — given fashion's sizing fluidity over the decades — there is no doubt that what we saw of her in an age before airbrushing was what she really was.
Her unabashed flaunting of her curves and her overt sexuality were once seen as the antithesis of feminism, but these days she is hailed by some as an icon of body positivity and self-love.
In the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter era, it is of course fitting to emphasize how Monroe fought for self-determination and supported civil rights.
Marilyn Monroe is a timeless beauty who continues to be an inspiration and a legend to future generations.