Marilyn Monroe and Me

These amazing pictures of Marilyn Monroe and me were sent anonymously as a gift.  I wish I knew who to give the credit to, thank you whoever you are!  The pictures of me were taken as part of a photo shoot with Richard Sabel. EDIT:  I thought these were a gift but it turns out that they were made by haters to try to make fun of me.  And so if anyone ever asks you to define Epic Fail, you can send them here.

Me and Marilyn Monroe side by side

Me and Marilyn Monroe overlay

I. Love. These. Pictures.  I love that they show two people with very different bodies enjoying similar movement.  Of course, movement is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness. and obviously I can’t speak for Ms. Monroe, but for me this picture is about my joy of embodiment.

I know that Marilyn Monroe is often used as an icon for the plus size movement, and there’s lots of controversy around what size she was and whether or not she’s really “plus size”.  I don’t participate in that at all.  First of all, I can’t ask her what she thinks about it.  But mostly, I don’t think that we should have to justify our existence in any way. People of all sizes have the right to exist, to love our bodies, and to live without being subjected to shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression whether Marilyn Monroe was “plus-sized” or not.

I don’t need Marilyn Monroe to be plus sized to love myself.  I don’t have to look, or move, or be anything like her to find both of our bodies amazing and both of us beautiful.  I know that there’s also a lot of controversy around the idea of beauty and the amount of power and importance it currently holds.  To me the ability to perceive beauty is a skill, so if I can’t find the beauty in someone else then I’m the problem – the issue is that I haven’t done enough work to develop my skill set, their intrinsic beauty is never be in question.  In my activism I work to destroy the social construct of beauty-as-power by suggesting that everyone is beautiful and the difference is in our choice of whether or not to recognize that.  Regardless beauty is something that we get to claim and own for ourselves if we want to.  I get that not everyone believes that or thinks about it that way and I think that’s totally cool as well.  What’s important in my life is that, when it comes to other people’s ideas of beauty or how I should look or move, in the words of Glinda the Good Witch, “you have no power here, be gone.”

Speaking of pictures with me in them, Toni Tails is creating a Body Positive Coloring Book and she asked me if she could make me a page.  Of course I agreed because, hey, coloring book!  You can check out the project here and if you’re feeling creative, you can click on the drawing to get a full-size version of her super cute drawing to color.

Body Positive Coloring Book

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What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

14 thoughts on “Marilyn Monroe and Me

  1. These are so beautiful! They brought tears to my eyes. Knowing your movement is about joy and expression and hoping that MM may have felt the same with her movement, it is stunning to see two amazing, gorgeous women “compiled” into what looks like a fluid image. You both stand out and in other ways you both blend together and show a beauty narrative through movement that spans generations.

    1. I got teary too… the pure joy and the athletic ability to stretch and move your body… so beautiful… I also got teary at the meanness one must feel to present these as anything other than a wonderful gift.

  2. I identify as fat (I’m 5’5″, weigh 220ish lbs.), but ever since I started reading your blog I’ve become more aware of my thin privilege. For example, I have a thin face, and you’ve pointed out that plus-size models tend to be thin-faced more often than not.

    I like that you find ways to discuss degrees of fatness while not denying anyone’s fatness, anyone’s experiences with being told they’re fat and all the BS that usually attends it.

  3. I find it utterly fascinating that your bodies are in such perfect sync with each other. It’s glorious, actually. I love the superimposed photo SO much. It actually kinda looks like she’s wearing a diaphanous dress over her suit. It’s just really, really neat.

  4. Absolutely love these pictures transposed … it is one of my favourites of you, and one I’d never seen of MM and they work together so beautifully ❤

  5. This is beautiful!

    Are you sure this was meant to be hurtful? Maybe someone who used to be a troll learned the truth, and did a “Face-Heel Turn,” and became a fan, instead?

    Because, these are just so gorgeous! How could anyone even think that this would be insulting? It’s mind-boggling that the thought would even occur to them.

  6. These pictures are beautiful. I find it hard to believe that someone could put these together as a hater without being converted after seeing the looks of free-spirited glee on your superimposed faces. These images are marvellous!

  7. I love those photos. I’m not sure what the intended message was – “Inside Ragen is a Marilyn?” “Inside Marilyn is a Ragen?” “Anything a fat woman can do, a woman who’s not fat can also do?” “Ragen’s beautiful, Marilyn was beautiful, and in some ways, such as the gracefulness of the way they move, they’re not all that different?”

    I’m probably around Marilyn’s size. OK, there’s no consensus about what size Marilyn actually was, but it would be fair to say that I’m closer to Marilyn’s size than Ragen’s. I do a bit of sport and I’m reasonably competent at the sports I do. If I tried to mimic that pose, I wouldn’t get my leg off the floor beyond 45 degrees. Put me in that photo in Marilyn’s place, and the obvious conclusion would be, “If I gain 150lb, it’ll make me more flexible.”

    Which actually wouldn’t be any crazier than some of the advice about training and performance that I’ve been given over the years by people who have neither lived in my body nor got degrees in sports science but who can’t see that what works for them won’t necessarily work for someone else.

  8. Reblogged this on Sly Fawkes and commented:
    Haters gonna hate. Their epic fail has been turned into your triumph.
    I also love the idea of the body positive coloring book. It’s about damn time! Perhaps if I’d had such a coloring book during my childhood, I wouldn’t have developed an eating disorder when I hit puberty.

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