I’m a thrifty shopper.

Spotted at Rainbow.

Spotted at Rainbow.

I’ll admit it. Although I work part-time at a retailer, I don’t buy anything there unless it’s on clearance. The art of the deal is everything. That’s why you can catch me shopping everywhere from Macy’s to Express to Rainbow and Danice. Judge me not. You wish you could bargain shop and wear medium/low (definitely not high/low) like I can.

A constant staple in these stores in the ever-present image of Marilyn Monroe. Whether it’s the image of her in the infamous white dress or more often simply her face, she is on shirts everywhere from Chicago to Brooklyn. I don’t know where this idea to have Marilyn on every shirt for young girls came from. I don’t remember it being a staple when I was growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

If I did see it, it was really a thing for white girls. I don’t remember black girls flocking to her and her image. But not anymore. Where did this praise come from?

Marilyn Monroe is perhaps the most known and glorified mistress in history. Born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles, Marilyn Monroe started out in films in the early 50’s. Next to Stevie Wonder, her rendition of Happy Birthday to President Kennedy is perhaps the most famous version of the song. There’s also the infamous story of her threatening a jazz club owner  to let Ella Fitzgerald perform at his club.

Her untimely death of acute barbiturate poisoning has been the subject of conspiracy theories for over 4 decades. Marilyn’s fame in death has more than surpassed the fame she experienced while she was alive.

Of course it all leads back to whiteness as the standard of beauty. Marilyn, with her vitamin D whole milk complexion and curvy figure was the envy of the women of her time.

I think I’ve only seen a handful of shirts that celebrate the beauty of black women and most of them were purchased at concerts or through independent sellers online with images of Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Rihanna and Michelle Obama on them. I think I’ve seen one shirt with Dorothy Dandridge on it and I’m sure it was a shirt that someone made at home.

I don’t even think it’s that black women and girls are fascinated with Marilyn Monroe has much as I feel like the image is being forced upon us. And of course, being the society influenced culture that we are, we eat it up. I’ve seen numerous girls in their late teens and early 20’s wearing a Marilyn Monroe shirt.

I want to ask them what if anything to they know about Marilyn. Not to be shady or anything but seriously. Why are you wearing a shirt with this woman on it?

But I’ll let them live.


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