Monday, March 5, 2012

Musing: Marilyns and Jaynes

While watching a clip from one of my favorite movies "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" a thought struck me a few weeks ago. I couldn't really place it so I shrugged it off, knowing it would come back later and today, while listening to a song from Kill Bill Vol. 1 ("I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield" by the 5, 6, 7, 8's) the thought struck again. I'm about to wax philosophic, pop culture style.

The world is full of women wanting to be Marilyn Monroes. They study her mannerisms, her quotes, her way of speaking and strive for that same uniqueness that make up the iconic and enigmatic woman. More often than not though, these women striving to be Marilyns become Jayne Mansfields.

Now back when Marilyn was Thee Woman, there were a lot of women trying to find their stride in the world of moving pictures and with the blonde bombshell on the scene, very few had an actual shot unless they were a "Marilyn Monroe type." And there you have Jayne Mansfield. See, Jayne Mansfield wasn't deeply and importantly talented nor really deeply or importantly interesting, but she had a body for days, blonde hair, and a sometimes crass personality a la, "The Marilyn Monroe Type."

So while Marilyn is somewhere being Marilyn, shying away from too many spotlights and trying to find love, happiness and meaning in her life... Jayne is traipsing about, filling in those blanks left behind while never quite hitting the mark. Is she funny? Sure, but not witty - they laugh at her more than with her. Is she sexy? Yes, but more in the shimmy "look at me!" type of way instead of a smoldering, classy sexy. In short, she's always a step behind.

In this life, there are too many women in the world claiming to be Marilyns when they are indeed Jaynes and Marilyns diminishing their light pretending to be Jaynes. The difference is this: what are you seeking in life? Who are you in life? Are you intrinsically the same in all aspects of your life or do you have different "personas" for different people, places and situations? When defining yourself do you have to use the words "like" or "as" or "I'm a (insert name here) with/without the (insert feature here)?" Simply put, are you being your true self, or who everybody else wants you to be - who everyone else is?

For the longest time I thought I was a Jayne because people treated me like a Jayne, and so I behaved like a Jayne. Only later in my relatively short life did I realize being a Jayne is a waning popularity contest; did people like me? Yes, but only because I was pretending, only because I was being a second rate version of someone else. I was a Marilyn pretending to be a Jayne trying to live up to be a Marilyn...isn't that funny?

All the time I thought I had to be extra to be noticed when in actuality all I had to be was me. I'm witty and funny, sarcastic and sweet, and so many other things that it'd be a cryin' shame for me to pretend the rest of my life to be anyone else. Am I unhappy? Sometimes. Do I sometimes wish there were a rule book entitled "Being Yourself When Everybody Wants You To Be The Same?" Definitely. But would I trade it? Not for nothing in the world. You see, Marilyn went down in history as one of if not the sexiest, coolest women ever, whereas Jayne? She went down as a Marilyn knock-off. And in the end, wouldn't it be wonderful if, by being yourself, you changed the course of history, or at least changed someone's mind? Wouldn't it be great if you went out in this world as you came into it, as yourself?

Be a Marilyn Monroe in a world full of Jayne Mansfields, but don't do it by proclaiming it or by literally being a Marilyn Monroe: do it by living your life, your way. Be someone special by just being who you are.

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