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07th Feb 2024

Marilyn Monroe is and was an icon but she wasn’t plus-sized

Anna Martin

marilyn monroe

Marilyn Monroe has long been regarded as a plus-sized style icon

She was stunning, curvy and in comparison to the beauty standard at the time, bigger than most people in the spotlight.

Yet the fact of the matter is this, she wasn’t plus-sized, not by today’s standards anyway.

Over the years, I’ve read countless mentions of the 50s bombshell being plus-size despite her measurements, reportedly 36-inch bust, 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips, being the equivalent of a modern-day UK size 6 to 8 – having been widely available all this time.

Some have tried to justify labelling her as such by suggesting it’s by 1950s standards, and that she’d wear what is now a size16 which many people would regard as plus despite there being no set industry standard.

Marilyn Monroe
Credit: Getty

Yet due to something called vanity sizing or size inflation, it’s highly unlikely.

Vanity sizing is generally defined as the practice of labelling clothing with sizes smaller than the item’s measurements and industry standards would indicate.

In other words, if a size 8 in many brands fits a woman with a 28-inch waist, a size 4 or 6 that fits that same woman is often considered “vanity-sized.”

The woman has the same body, with the same measurements, but in some brands, she wears a “smaller” size.

So when you take this new practice into consideration her size 16 now drops to however, due to size inflation that now drops to a UK 10/12.

Even when Kim Kardashian decided to wear Marilyn’s iconic ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress to the Met Gala she had to drop over 7kg to even get the gown on.

Kim herself was shocked at how small the actress was, remarking to Vogue “I always thought she was extremely curvy,” when up close and personal with the late star’s figure-hugging gown.

Marilyn Monroe
Credit: Getty

The reality star had to go on a crash diet, cutting all carbs and sugar, and wearing a sauna suit twice a day to get the dress closed just proving that the dress was small.

Now this is not to say that Marilyn Monroe wasn’t stunning, she absolutely was, but when it comes to the body standards of today she doesn’t represent the plus-size community.

Looking to someone like the blonde bombshell as a plus-sized icon today means amazing role models who are bigger-bodied and who look like us and are leading examples of body image confidence so many of us are yearning for are being sidelined.

This contributes further to the lack of body diversity in pop culture, which means straight-sized celebrities are touted as plus-size, which contributes further to the lack of body diversity.