Why Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Beyoncé are NOT Role Models for Women (1/3)

three of the celebrities edited

The Post-Modern society has become a society based on the image world of Media. Media which is dominating more and more of our lives, is a major agent of socialization in our age. These women, which we came to learn of primarily through Media, are cultural icons of our age.

It is important here to understand the difference between an ‘Icon’ and a ‘role model’. An icon is a person regarded as a symbol or represents a particular movement or age. Whereas a role model is a person whose behavior is regarded by others as a good example to follow and to be imitated.

The reason why I chose Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Beyoncé knowles specifically is that I believe that each of them is a cultural icon of her era. Monroe in the fifties, Madonna in the eighties and nineties, and Beyonce in the 2000s. Each of them brought new meaning to the entertainment industry in her way that largely shapes our lives today.

This post is one of three in which I will argue why these particular icons should not be considered as role models.



Marilyn Monroe’s inspired celebrities all over the world and influenced the future generations, from Madonna in the eighties, Drew Barrymore in the Nineties and Christina Aguilera and Paris Hilton in the 2000s.  With hair dyed blonde (or a wig), parted red pout, half-closed eyes, breathy voice and immodestly dressed,  Monroe became the ideal image of a sexy woman with millions of male admirers.

Christina Aguilera (left), Paris Hilton , Scarlett Johnson and Lady Gaga with Marilyn Monroe's famous blond curls and red lips.

(From left to right) Christina Aguilera, Paris Hilton , Scarlett Johnson and even Lady Gaga with Marilyn Monroe’s famous blond curls and red lips.

The image of Monroe for which she became popular is a complete contradiction to images of her earlier life as Norma Jeane Baker.  She got married when she was 16 and worked in a factory during the war when her husband was serving  overseas as a Marine. She was later discovered by a photographer and pursued a career in modeling.  Her earlier images show how natural her poses, her smile and her clothes were, that typical for women in the 1940s .She got divorced from her first husband and  signed a movie contract on the same year, changing her name to Marilyn Monroe and dying her hair blonde.

Norma Jeane before

Natural beauty of Norma Jeane Baker , Later Marilyn Monroe.

LEO MCKINSTRY  of the Daily Mail described Marilyn Monroe as:  “.. almost always played the same shallow role, the ditsy helpless blonde craving masculine attention and protection. She had none of the impressive authority of other Hollywood actresses..”. He further says that “[Monroe] ..wailed about being a sex symbol”:

“A sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing.”

Marilyn Monroe

 However, she didn’t do anything to stop that. On the contrary, she encouraged that image by her super tight dresses, squeaky voice, and her erotic poses. She was desperate for attention, She’d probably do anything to gain media’s attention: Nude photographs, with tons of makeup and sleeping around to get what she had always dreamed of: fame, money and media attention.

In May 19th, 1962 Marilyn sung Happy Birthday to the American President JF Kennedy who was said she had an affair with. She had sung it breathlessly in a way that emanated desire publicly from Marilyn’s side.

She sexually objectified herself and the women of the generations later to come. She destroyed the view of a woman as a mindful person rather than a curvy object used to satisfy men’s lust. She was obviously all about her body. The first edition of Playboy featured Monroe on its cover. The actress had a long relationship with the magazine, featuring her first-ever nude images.

Sociologist R.W. Connell describes Marilyn as an unreal character. He argues that she showed Emphasized femininity, which is an important compliment to hegemonic masculinity. Emphasized femininity is orientated to accommodating the interests and desires of men and is characterized by ‘compliance, nurturance and empathy.’ She was an exaggerated image that almost became a character coming out of a comic book.


Andy Warhol’s prints of Marilyn might have just showed her exaggerated character.

She did not develop herself in different areas of life in order to grow as a person and so when she thought she started to lose her beauty due to her overuse of drugs, She threw responsibility of her personal development on others which might have led eventually to her suicide.

“Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn is a product to men’s desire, and by being subservient to men, she achieved her dreams of becoming rich, popular and sought after by the media. Which is why she is not a good role model for other women and girls. Add to that her addiction to drugs and alcohol to control her high emotional instability and blaming others for any hardships she encountered. (to be continued.)



  1. Pingback: Why Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Beyoncé are NOT Role Models for Women (2/3) | Lost In Arabia
  2. GIna · August 14, 2013

    I’m just wondering who you think is a good role model?

    • margarib · August 20, 2013

      Anyone who shows their talent but not their sexuality. Anyone who portrays a successful woman for their minds and thoughts, hard work of course. I am against any celebrity who portrays women success in terms of sexuality. Women are not sex objects. Women are people.

      • Ina · November 18, 2013

        Well said 🙂

  3. Pingback: Why Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Beyoncé are NOT Role Models for Women (3/3) | Lost In Arabia
  4. Kate · December 28, 2013

    I think you are so utterly wrong on this front. Anyone who values themselves enough to know they are better than a mere thing, yet still has total appreciation and control over their sexuality as a women is a good role model to me.

  5. Ines · July 12, 2014

    1.Marilyn Monroe is just a brand , a fetish , an emtpy canvas in wich everyone can paint whatever they want . People need fantasies and she ( and Hollywood ofc ) sold them one . The fact that despite being this huge icon her movie legacy is lacking shows what she is / was / will always be famous for and that’s of course her looks . People didn’t have the chance to discover her through her movies beacuse her image was nonstop shoved down their throats ( to the point that it has become played out and a parody of itself ) and while this is of course not Marilyn’s fault ( may she Rip) I don’t think she didn’t know what she was doing when she created the Marilyn Monroe persona ( and of course her sex appeal was the most important element ) so her whining about if later seems a bit phony to me ( all celebrities complain about the pressure of fame but they knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they chose to become famous because there’s a price for everything ) . So in a nutshell there’s nothing empowering about a woman who is mostly remembered for supperficial things such as : a blow up skirt scene , her hairdo , outfits and photoshoots ( naked or half naked ) and of course her affairs whith powerful men and her supposed / wrongly attributed quotes .

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