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Dear Internet, Can We Stop Using Marilyn Monroe as the Standard for 'Real Women'?

25/07/2016 12:20 | Updated 25 July 2016

Marilyn Monroe: the poster girl for the 'real' woman. Marilyn Monroe had curves and wobbly bits and real women have curves and wobbly bits. It makes sense.

It's hard to go about your business on the internet on any given day without seeing a picture of Marilyn Monroe, complete with quote of questionable origin, celebrating her as the patron saint of the 'real' woman. To this end I have only one request; can we stop this.

It might sound catty; but so is taking down everyone else who doesn't fit the Marilyn Monroe goal. Sure, some of these posts might be done with the best of intentions - and I'm totally on board with building people up - but suggesting 'real' women adhere to a certain set of characteristics and actively singling out other women for not doing so does nothing for 'real' women.

The reason they do nothing for 'real' women is because 'real' women occupy a spectrum much bigger than is ever alluded to in this trend. A 'real' woman is anyone who wants to go ahead and identify as one. This includes large women and skinny women and women who weren't born female and women with plastic surgery and women who like to 'look natural' and women who don't - the list goes on.

When you share posts that actively bring down other women by claiming to be all for 'real' women, you are just as much of a problem. Yeah, it might not seem like as big a deal to claim that 'real' women have curves or that Kim Kardashian is totally fake and isn't half the woman that Marilyn Monroe was, but you're doing exactly what you're trying to combat - bringing women down.

As with anything on the internet, there's varying degrees of hostility when it comes to these posts. Some just want to show that beauty comes in every single size there is - and that's great. However other pictures go much further and reveal a hugely toxic side to what is intended to be uplifting. One that particularly springs to mind; a picture of Marilyn's famous beach photoshoot, wearing that white swimsuit with a quote that reads; 'before anorexia and implants, there was something called sexy'. Not only does it perpetuate the idea that women can't control their own image, for fear of not being 'sexy', it even goes as far as to suggest that women with eating disorders are actively suffering from this to make some sort of fashion statement. If you didn't see the problem before, maybe you will now.

I don't think I've missed the point here by saying that these posts are supposed to celebrate women of all kinds. So why is it seen as acceptable to celebrate in the imperfections of womankind by way of tearing others down? Sure, Kim K beauty standards are pretty unattainable, and she will probably never see that picture that slams her for being fake but what sort of precedent are you setting by allowing some women to be celebrated at the cost of others? By taking her or anyone else down in order to boost someone else you perpetuate the idea that women are competition for each other.

That stereotype that us women are all out to get each other is damaging to everyone involved. There's a huge difference in devaluing a woman and building her up. Try and bring down Kim Kardashian and you're not building anyone else up, you're just showing her as competition.

In all honesty, this has nothing to do with Marilyn Monroe or Kim Kardashian and everything to do with the fact it's almost impossible for us to celebrate all women at the same time. I could've picked any number of women that people continually use as standard of reference for how women should be. Sure, Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful lady, but her beauty does not detract - absolutely should not detract - from anyone else's, past or present. Stop pitting women against each other.

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