Marilyn Monroe was Not Even Close to a Size 12-16

Myth: Marilyn Monroe was a size 12-16.

From Roseanne Barr stating, “I’m more sexy than Pamela Lee or whoever else they’ve got out there these days. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. That says it all”, to Elizabeth Hurley stating,  “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat…I went to see her clothes in the exhibition, and I wanted to take a tape measure and measure what her hips were. She was very big”, you’ll often hear people saying Marilyn Monroe was around the same size as the average American woman today (12-16).  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, at least by today’s sizing systems.

How this myth got started isn’t exactly known.  One possible contributing factor to this myth was Marilyn Monroe’s atypical extreme hour glass shape.  More directly, it probably partially stems from the fact that women’s sizes today are not at all equivalent to women’s sizes in the 1950s. In the 1980s, in order to accommodate people’s vanity and ever expanding girth, the U.S. Department of Commerce got rid of the uniform sizing system and instead allowed for more ego stroking sizes.  As a result of this, today, a size 8 would have been roughly equivalent to a size 16-18 in the 1950s, obviously though this varies a shocking amount from brand to brand.

So what size was Marilyn Monroe actually?  Luckily, many of her dresses, carefully preserved, are still around to measure off of.  Further, one of her dress makers also chimed in with exact measurements he took.  Those measurements were 5 ft. 5.5 inches tall; 35 inch bust; 22 inch waist (approximately 2-3 inches less than the average American woman in the 1950s and 12 inches less than average today); and 35 inch hips, with a bra size of 36D.  Her weight fluctuated a bit through her career, usually rising in times of depression and falling back to her normal thereafter, but her dressmaker listed her as 118 pounds and the Hollywood studios tended to list her between 115-120 lbs.

As to what size Marilyn Monroe would be in women’s sizes today, that’s not an easy thing to answer due to the differing sizes from brand to brand, country to country, and the fact that her extreme hour glass shape would have made it difficult for her to find the perfect size while clothes shopping.  Lucky for her, she could afford to have her clothing custom made, which she usually did.

As a direct example of her size, the white dress she wore in The Seven Year Itch was recently auctioned off and was put on a mannequin that was a size 2, but they were still unable to zip up the dress as the mannequin was too big.  Many of her other dresses that exist from throughout her career match up to about the same, give or take an inch or two.  That being said, Marilyn Monroe at times would have her dresses so tight they’d have to be sown onto her, so something more comfortable in a size 4-ish (American) and something like an 8 in the U.K. is probably more accurate with most brands, though it should be noted that a 22 inch waist in many popular American jean sizes today would be below a 0.  So, again, the exact size is difficult to nail down thanks to the non-standardized sizing system we have today.

If you’re curious as to how that compares to modern contemporary fashion models, according to BluFire Model Registry, models are generally in the vicinity of a 34 bust; 24 waist; and 34 hips, which is very close to Monroe’s measurements of 35-22-35.  They list the average model  today at 5 ft. 8 inches, to Monroe’s 5 ft 5.5 inches.   Elizabeth Hurley, who in the above quote called Marilyn Monroe “fat”, actually has around the same dimensions: 34-24-34, though is about 5 inches taller than Monroe was.

So while it’s often lamented (rightly so) that female models and actresses today set a standard that no normal woman can realistically live up to, the same was true in the Marilyn Monroe era, minus Photoshop, even though she’s often used today as an example of how things were different “back in the day”. Probably the perception of the difference between then and now lies more in the fact that the average American is a lot bigger today.  To this point, the average American woman in the 1950s had a 25 inch waist compared to Monroe’s 22 inches.  Whereas today, the average American woman has a waist size of 34 inches, so the gap between the models and “average” was much less pronounced then.  And, of course, today we have more advanced means of photo and video editing to make the gap seem even larger, with the edited results being truly unattainable. At least a 22-24 inch waist is do-able for some with a significant amount of work via a great fitness routine and healthy diet.  A 22 inch waist that is then Photoshopped to look smaller, on the other hand, just isn’t healthily attainable, not to mention that any blemishes are also removed from pictures and film quite easily today via these modern editing techniques.

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Bonus Facts:

  • Marilyn Monroe in 1945 Posing For YANK Magazine

    Another Marilyn Monroe myth was that she was a blonde.  In fact, the actress famed for her platinum blond curls actually was a dark haired brunette.  She first dyed her hair blonde after being told that models with lighter colored hair were preferable, so bleached it to golden blonde and later adjusted this a total of nine times until she settled on platinum blonde.  As Monroe later stated, “There’s only one sort of natural blonde on earth – albinos.”

  • The words “blond” and “blonde” are not wholly synonymous.  Find out the difference here: The Difference Between Blond and Blonde
  • Monroe reportedly kept a small library of around 400 books, largely non-fiction.  Her third husband, Arthur Miller, commented though that she rarely finished any of them.  She tended to skim them until she picked up the basic idea and then felt it was pointless to read in more detail later.
  • Veronica Hamel and her husband purchased Monroe’s Brentwood home in 1972 and attempted to have the roof replaced.  What the contractor found in the roof was an eavesdropping and telephone tapping system.  At the time of Monroe’s death in 1962, this type of system was “standard issue” for the FBI.  This, and other evidence, further inflamed conspiracy theorists who maintain Monroe was murdered due to her alleged relationship with JFK and Robert Kennedy.  However, in 1982, whether she committed suicide or was murdered was reviewed by an official inquest and they determined the original investigation got it right, that she committed suicide by ingesting large amounts of Nembutal, enough to raise the level in her bloodstream to 4.5 milligrams per 100, meaning she must have ingested about 40-50 capsules.
  • Monroe, originally Norma Jeane Mortenson, and then shortly thereafter Norma Jeane Baker (Baker being the last name of her mother’s husband before Martin Mortensen, Monroe’s father), was born all the way back in 1926 and spent most of her early years in foster care and some time in an orphanage.  Her father ran off before she was born and her mother had severe mental problems, including ultimately being placed in a mental institution.  When she was 16 years old, her foster parents moved and could no longer afford to keep her. In order to avoid having to go back to an orphanage, she married her first husband, 21 year old Jimmy Dougherty in June of 1942; apparently not entirely by choice, though this point has been disputed.  Monroe herself stated about it,  “Grace McKee arranged the marriage for me, I never had a choice. There’s not much to say about it. They couldn’t support me, and they had to work out something. And so I got married.”
  • Doughtery soon went off to fight in WWII, leaving Monroe at home.  Before he left, she tried to convince him to get her pregnant, as she was afraid he’d die, but he refused because he thought she was too young to be pregnant.  This worked out for her, though, in some respects, as she found herself working in a Radioplane plant where she was discovered by a photographer.  Before her husband returned from the war, she already had a successful career in modeling and would very soon launch her movie career.  Shortly after he returned, they got a divorce partially due to the fact that he did not approve of her new career and how scantily clad she was in many of the photos.  According to Monroe, though, they just didn’t have a good relationship, with the two almost never talking, not because they were fighting or angry at one another, but just because they had nothing to say.
  • Doughtery wasn’t the only husband she lost due to her career, another was Joltin Joe DiMaggio.  When she met him she was “surprised to be so crazy about Joe. I expected a flashy New York sports type, and instead I met this reserved guy who didn’t make a pass at me right away! He treated me like something special. Joe is a very decent man, and he makes other people feel decent, too.”  However, less than a year after getting married, the two divorced.  According to Monroe, “I didn’t want to give up my career, and that’s what Joe wanted me to do most of all.  I want to be a big star more than anything. It’s something precious.”  That being said, DiMaggio and she remained close and when she was in the Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in 1961, he helped her get out.  She then spent time with him in Florida where he was working as a batting coach for the Yankees.  Concerned with her mental state and the people she had surrounded herself with, he tried to get her to marry him again so he could look out for her directly, but she refused.  DiMaggio was the one who a year later arranged her funeral.
  • For 20 years after her death, DiMaggio had fresh roses placed in the vase next to Monroe’s crypt three times per week.
  • Marilyn Monroe was on the cover of the first ever Playboy magazine in 1953.  The nude centerfold photo inside was taken by Tom Kelley and was originally for a calendar called “Miss Golden Dreams”.  After she became famous, it was discovered that the nude photo in the calendar was Monroe.  Rather than payoff a blackmailer at the time, she instead came out and admitted the photo was her stating, “My sin has been no more than I have written, posing for the nude because I desperately needed 50 dollars to get my car out of hock.”  Hefner shortly thereafter purchased the right to use the photo in the first edition of Playboy for $500.  Besides the initial amount she was paid when the photo was taken, she never saw a dime for it after, even though it made Hefner millions thanks to it instantly propelling his magazine into wide circulation, selling around 54,000 issues within week of that first issue being published.
  • Hugh Hefner purchased the burial vault next to Marilyn Monroe as his future place of final rest.
  • Playboy was founded thanks to $1000 Hugh Hefner’s mother gave him to start the magazine, along with another $7000 he raised from other sources, such as his brother.
  • When Monroe died at the age of 36 in 1962, her estate value was estimated at around $1.6 million (about $11.4 million today).  Four months shy of 50 years later, her estate still earns around $2 million per year licensing her name and likeness.  Her films grossed around $200 million in her lifetime (about $1.7 billion today).  She earned so little through most of her career largely thanks to being under contract in the old studio system, making a certain amount per week. In her early years, this was often less than the makeup artists and the like made, despite her being the star of the picture.  At the time of her death, she was making considerably more and even had an offer for a four movie stint for $10 million ($72 million today), among many other offers.
  • Monroe was almost propositioned by the Prince of Monaco, Prince Rainier, being one of the women he was considering for his future wife.  However, he instead chose to marry actress Grace Kelly, at which point she quit acting.
  • Monroe attempted to have kids a couple different times with famed playwright Arthur Miller, resulting in two miscarriages.  She had a condition, endometriosis, where tissue of her uterus lining would attach itself to other areas of her body and grow, which can be extremely painful and cause bleeding and difficulty getting and staying pregnant.
  • Marilyn Monroe started going by that name in 1946 around the same time she dyed her hair blonde and divorced her husband.  However, she didn’t legally change it to Marilyn Monroe until 1953, seven years later.  Funny enough, she stated, “I’ve never liked the name Marilyn. I’ve often wished that I had held out that day for Jean Monroe. But I guess it’s too late to do anything about it now.”  She changed her name initially at the behest of Ben Lyon of 20th Century-Fox.  He chose the name “Carol Lind” for her, but she hated it.  She then chose Monroe, after her mother’s maiden name, and Lyon chose the Marilyn part, which he liked better than her first choice of Jeane Monroe.
  • Marilyn Monroe suffered from severe stage fright, even late in her career.  Producer Henry Weinstein remarked that he saw her on many occasions near physically ill from stage fright while preparing to film her scenes.  He further stated of her stage fright, “Very few people experience terror. We all experience anxiety, unhappiness, heartbreaks, but that was sheer primal terror.”

Marilyn Monroe Quotes:

  • “In Hollywood a girl’s virtue is much less important than her hair-do. You’re judged by how you look, not by what you are. Hollywood’s a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”
  • “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
  • “I used to think as I looked at the Hollywood night, ‘There must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.'”
  • (on her time in orphanages was a child) “The world around me then was kind of grim. I had to learn to pretend in order to – I don’t know – block the grimness. The whole world seemed sort of closed to me . . . I felt on the outside of everything, and all I could do was to dream up any kind of pretend game.”
  • “Do I look happy? I should — for I was a child nobody wanted. A lonely girl with a dream — who awakened to find that dream come true. I am Marilyn Monroe.”
  • “No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.”
  • “If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.”
  • “If you’re gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty.”
  • “We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it’s a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift.”
  • “Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting than being one.”
  • “How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.”
  • “I’ve often stood silent at a party for hours listening to my movie idols turn into dull and little people. ”
  • “Boys think girls are like books. If the cover doesn’t catch their eye they won’t bother to read what’s inside”.”
  • “Your clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman but loose enough to show you’re a lady.”
  • “People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn’t see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one.”
  • “I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”
  • “My illusions didn’t have anything to do with being a fine actress. I knew how third rate I was. I could actually feel my lack of talent, as if it were cheap clothes I was wearing inside. But my God, how I wanted to learn, to change, to improve!”
  • “I’m a failure as a woman. My men expect so much of me, because of the image they’ve made of me and that I’ve made of myself, as a sex symbol. Men expect so much, and I can’t live up to it.”
  • “Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die, young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You’d never wholly know yourself…”
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  • Might want to replace all appropriate instances of “waste” with “waist” in this article. :)

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Scott: Ha! My fingers kept doing that for some reason while typing this article. I thought I noticed all of them, but looks like I missed two. Thanks for catching it. :-)

      • Just so you know, women today wear their jeans on their hips, not their waist. So the right size would be a 35-inch jean, not 22.

        • The waist measurement you have listed is not measuring apples to apples. MM’s waist measurement would have been measured at her natural waist, the natural indentation near the bottom of her ribs and well above the belly button.

          When you talk about the waist measurement for a pair of pants or a belt, that is actually a hip measurement. Unless I am unlclear, a 34in waist would actually be more like an XL today and that is not the average woman.

        • Just so you know. Wearing jeans on the hips has not always been the case. I am 5ft and have to cut a lot off the bottom of my jeans even with short leg size. If I wore them on my hips I may as well cut the legs in half. Hips and waist are preferences not a given. Fashion changes all the time. Men wearing jeans flashing their pants isn’t always the case either. We cannot generalise.

        • When I was in high school I work a size 11-12, sometimes a 9-10. These were Junior sizes. When my daughter was in high school she usually wore a size 3, on rare occasion a 5, as did most of her friends. Her school had a 70s day and she and her friends wore all my old clothing. Everything fit them perfectly. My old Lee patterned jeans fit my daughter like a glove.

  • Thanks for this article. I was always under the mistaken impression that she was around a size 12.
    Her death, according to the coroner after the fact, was not suicide, as reported. He claimed he was pressured to declare it suicide, but the Nembutal she supposedly swallowed would’ve left trails down in throat, which weren’t present at the autopsy.

    • It’s abundantly clear that the Kennedys either murdered Marilyn Monroe themselves or the had one or some of their minions do it. The Kennedys are a slimy lot. None of the Kennedy males can keep their pants zipped or keep control of their dick.

  • Nice article, nice info.

    You forgot to mention that Roseanne Barr is an idiot…or maybe she was trying to be a funny fat person.

  • While the size thing is true, most of the quotes weren’t said by her.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Art: Many of these were pulled directly from things penned by her own hand, such as in “My Story” and “Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters”, so which ones specifically weren’t from her, so I can remove them?

      • “Your clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman but loose enough to show you’re a lady.” – is by Edith Head

        “If you’re gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty.” – there is no reliable source to confirm that she ever said this

        Other than that: Awesome article, even though I really wonder who could’ve EVER thought she was a big woman after seeing even one of her movies. True, her weight fluctuated throughout her career, but size 16? Liz Hurley is an idiot. Marilyn Monroe was clearly a petite woman.

      • If you’re writing an article giving anything other than person opinion it’s supposed to be supported with references –

    • “How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.” This quote is from Anais Nin.

  • I’m sure they didn’t put her dress on a manikin (which is used in education), but rather on a mannequin. Love the site, but the grammatical errors and typos (waste/waist) make it hard to take the site serious.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Grammar Nazi: “…grammatical errors and typos (waste/waist) make it hard to take the site serious.” I would think this would be the case only if you assume the errors are due to ignorance of grammar and not simply typos generally due to blearily editing many of the articles at around 3:00am. ;-) In case you’re curious, I did for a brief time employ a professional proofreader. After about three weeks, he informed me that I didn’t need him as I’d already mastered English grammar and all he was doing was catching the occasional typo here or there. In fact, he told me it would probably improve my writing, in terms of readability, to take more liberties with my grammar, rather than sticking to the hard fast rules so rigidly. He thought this would particularly help when doing science articles, which can at times come across a little dry and heavy.

      That being said, I do thank you for catching my typos. Believe me, it’s harder than most people think to catch typos when writing lengthy articles in the wee hours of the morning after a long day’s work. Without you Grammar Nazis, they would remain in my work forever. :-)

      Incidentally, I’ll return the favor and say that you meant “seriously” not “serious” in your comment… typos everywhere!!! “Seriously” is an adverb, whereas “serious” is an adjective and since the word describes “take” using an adverb is correct in this case.

      “Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren’t distracted by the total lack of content in your writing.” Randy K. Milholland

  • How could she be a 36D if her bust measurement is only 35 inches? That doesn’t make any sense–and I would know (I worked at a lingerie store in college). My guess is that she is actually a 32D or even a 30DD. A 36D would have a bust measurement of 39+ inches. Just saying!

    (Kudos for the rest of the article, though–she has never looked like a size 12-16 in any pictures I’ve seen her in. I get so annoyed when people say that!).

    • Indeed. I’m a 32D at a 35″ bust. The shape looks right enough, so Marilyn would surely be a 30D in today’s sizes.

      Bra manufacturers didn’t always offer the range of sizes that they do today, and bra sizes have changed (with less difference between cup sizes, if I’ve understood properly). That said, this article did aim to debunk the myth that Marilyn was a size 12 by today’s standards, so the same should go for bra size.

      • Oops, a follow-up: I actually wear a 10D in Aus sizing, which seems to be closer to a US 32DD.

        So, if my 35″ bust fits into a 32DD, so would Marylin’s have (in today’s sizes). I can also wear a 30E, and from what I understand, Marylin had a tiny ribcage, so I guess she would have fitted more comfortably in today’s 28F (yes, this is a real size, available from a few companies).

        • Thank you thank you thank you. I wear a 30E/30F and the 35 inch bust with a 36anything bra size irks me to no end. No idea why people (playboy?) perpetuate the myth that very slender women with big breasts wear band size 36 and above.

          • People are stuck in the A-to-D-only paradigm, from the first mass-produced bras which only went up to a D-cup (from what I can find — happy to be corrected by anyone who knows for sure). That was when adding 5-6″ did in fact give the correct band size, and from what little I can find there was a greater difference between cup sizes. But anyway, 50 years ago, if you overfilled a D-cup at your correct band size, you would just have to upsize the band :(

      • There is no way Marilyn was a 30 or 32. My wife is a 32 and she has a smaller ribcage than Marilyn did. As for cup size, I estimate a D at most and maybe a C. I can speak from experience, but won’t go into it.

        • Russ49:
          Your wife then needs to size down in the band (and up in the cup, correspondingly). My ribcage measures 27-28″ and I wore a 32D for 7 or 8 years. I recently discovered the wonders of smaller bands online and now wear a 30E or 28F (depending on the brand).

          As for your guess at cup sizes, maybe I’d be a C-cup in old sizing, I mean my boobs look medium-sized on me. But sizing has changed — each letter just means one inch difference between the band and bust measurements.

  • I love Marilyn Monroe just as much as I love reading every article in this site day by day. :)

  • Her weight fluctuated. In some movies, she was slimmer than in others. Ex: Gentlemen Prefer Blonds. But even when she was a bit plump, she was still more beautiful than Elizabeth Hurley.

  • The article says, “Her IQ came out at a full 33 points above the national average at the time when she was tested (at 163).” I highly doubt the national average IQ was 130 at any point. The way the Stanford Binet IQ test works is that 100 is the “average” score. If Marilyn indeed had an IQ of 163, she was a whopping 63 points above the average, approximately 4 standard deviations above average. For perspective, .004% of the population has an IQ that high. However, I believe all of this is anecdotal, and that Marilyn never actually took a Stanford Binet IQ test. Thus, I would say all reports of her IQ are hearsay.

  • Regarding Seven’s comments, the number portion of a bra size does relate directly to the bust size (that’s where the numbers come from). I wear a 34C and my current bust measurement is 34 inches. I have to wear them on the last of the three clasps (furthest out). When I was in my teens, I wore a 36B. My bust measurement was 35 inches and I had to wear my bras on the first of the three clasps (nearest in).

    If Monroe were alive today with a 35 inch bust, she would wear a 36 bra and need to clasp it on the first or second one for a comfortable fit. Anything smaller would squeeze her (and give off the appearance that her breasts are falling out of her bra) and anything larger would aggravate her skin from too much movement of the fabric (on top of giving the appearance that her breasts are smaller than they are).

    The only way this could be confusing to anyone is a result of a lack of education and training in proper bra fitting. (Many women today do not know how to properly do so, which is why there are women specifically trained in this area to help women with picking out the appropriate bra sizes.)

    • For someone talking about proper education on bra fitting surely you realise the number is the underbust measurement and the letter is the bust size….

    • Evy, it’s bizarre if a 34C fits a 34″ bust. All the bra calculators/charts suggest a 34″ bust would fit 34AA, 32B or 30D, depending on ribcage size.

      Do you get a significantly greater bust measurement if you lean over 90 degrees?

      My underbust and bust measurements are 28″ and 35″ and I’ve worn a 32D for years, since that’s what all the charts say, and size 30 bands are rare. However, the band could be firmer (the top of the gore pulls away from my chest), so I’ve ordered two 30E’s online to try on for size (I realise current wisdom is that one’s underbust measurement = band size, but the 32 is nearly firm enough).

    • That’s really bizarre. My bust is a 36 and I wear a 30E/F.

    • «Many women today do not know how to properly do so» which seems to be your case given that the number refers to the underbust in inches and the letter to the cup, which is the difference between bust and underbust measurements.

    • Bra sizes used to be measured like this. Under bust measurement eg 34 (band size) add 4 if even number or 5 if odd number. Measure the bust eg 36. You then take one from the other to give a number in this case 2 and use a chart to work out the cup size. Your measurement would then be 34 and what ever cup size the chart showed. Bigger cup sizes have been introduced so the chart would be different now.

  • Evy, my bust measurement is now 34 inches (87cm) and band measurement 27 inches (70cm). I wear 65E in Europe sizes (used to wear a 75C, which was helplessly off) and it’s been measured at a professional. The number is the band measurement, the letter is the breast measurement. The bust measurement alone doesn’t tell us anything about the real bra size, because the two are connected. You can have a bust measurement of 40 inches, but if your band measurement is 39 inches, you’d be wearing something like 44AA. If the bust measurement is 40 inches and band measurement is 30 inches, it’s 34E. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

    And 34C and 36B both are the same size, only the band is different. The cup size is the same.

    The band is supposed to be tight. If the band isn’t tight enough, the breasts won’t get any support. Most of the support comes from the band. If the breasts bulge, then you need a bigger cup. Most women use bras that have too big band and too small cup, and that causes the bulging, the band riding up in the back and all the other problems.

    I’m guessing that her underbust measurement was around 26 inches. Then, she would be wearing something like 30DD, or 28E.

  • This was an interesting and revealing article about Marilyn. I had always wondered about her true size because they bring it up so much, and it is interesting to see how urban legends distorted this. I always thought Marilyn look skinny but curvy in many photos and movies, and the one above confirms this.

  • Seven the bra size probably were different back then too. Just my guess.

  • Isa, b and c are not the same cup size, no matter what band size i use my breasts will not fit into a b cup and they bludge making it look like they are falling out the top of my bra giving that look of having four breasts. to measure for a bra you measure under the bust then add 5 inches.. thats your band size. then you measure around the breast , for each inch more than your band size its one cup size.1 inch a, 2 inches b, 3 inches c and so on. there is a difference in the size of each cup as you go up.

  • Its been proven that adding inches to a womans band measurement renders a bra useless and is ill fitting for the majoirty of women. Using the old ways of measuring a bra I should be a 32 DD or a 34 D in reality I am a UK 30 FF or 28 G. I would say Marilyn would probably be a 28 E/F at her smaller stages and possibly 30 F/FF when she was plumper I say plumper she wasnt that big. The reasons in the 50s bra sizing was different was because there was hardly any elasticity and didnt move like modern bras.

    Also most models lie about there meausrments most models are rectangles or straight up and down while they have hourglass measurments.

  • Enjoyed reading this. Impossible for me to be sure on any of the alleged Monroe vital statistics in modern-day terms, particularly the bra sizes. I’m a UK 30 (DD) and have a conspicuously small and to my eyes, too small, upper torso/rib cage. Monroe looked more in proportion than I feel I look, so I can’t imagine her fitting the 28E and 30DD bras that I wear. And as Faith said, I also simply cannot believe that modern day fashion models actually possess those rather hourglass measurements as cited. They do generally look indeed, very far from hourglass shapes. Most fashion models I see have far more slight and decidedly un-curvaceous figures, and nothing like the female aesthetic ideal of the 50s.

  • it’s kind of hilarious how ill-informed some of these women are about bra sizes. the number on the the bra size refers to the measurement UNDER your bust— it IS NOT the measurement at the apex of the bust. the a-b-c-d-dd refers to how big the breast is.

    i would recommend EVY go get a bra fitting because she so clearly has no clue what size she should be wearing.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @tay: Apparently I should do a post on how to properly measure for a bra and what bra sizes refer to. :-)

      • I need help, could come around, Hiskey and help me fit these C-cups into my Ds? Or I think they are Ds struggling into my Cs

  • Wonderful story. I came of age in the fifties. Marilyn Monroe certainly was not fat. She had a tiny figure with lots of curves. And I believe she succeeded when no one was there for her, because she became her own mother–her own advocate. She loved and protected herself and took herself wherever she wanted to go. And she got there.

  • This would be a decent article, except for the fact that at least 5 of the quotes you listed are not actually Marilyn Quotes.

    She also never actually took an IQ test, though she was very intelligent and well read.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Lauren: Which quotes are not accurate? (I take the accuracy of things on my site very seriously, so if you know of inaccuracies please be specific and, if you happen to know credible references backing up your claim, it would save me some digging to verify what you say. ;-))

      • At *least* 8 of these quotes are commonly attributed to Norma Jeane/Marilyn Monroe but in fact, actually have never been proven to be from her lips. You say you have read My Story and Fragments (the only written works from Marilyn herself). The quotes I have listed at the bottom are nowhere to be found in either of those or any other credible biographical work on Marilyn. It’s an easy mistake to make since so many “credible” websites claim these quotes are in fact Marilyn’s true words (I would know. I was a journalist before a career change and know the pains of researching credible sources nowadays!) In the 5+ years I have researched Marilyn reading over 20 biographies based on her life, watching several notable documentaries and interviews, reading My Story and Fragments, and communicating with other Marilyn experts, I have never once seen these quotes proven legitimate.
        Also for the record, Marilyn suffered from endometriosis, gall bladder issues, and other stomach conditions. She would take enemas to relieve her constipation and other stomach conditions, as they were accepted as a fad prescription from doctors in the day. Not to mention, Marilyn suffered her whole life from fluctuating weight gain and loss, especially in her married days when she became pregnant and settled into domestic life. To say she was so-and-so measurements for her ENTIRE life is far from accurate. For example, we see progressive, albeit light, weight gain from 1954-1960 and then a sudden weight loss from 1961 until her death in 1962. Furthermore in the 1950s, studios and other “credible” sources would often fabricate/alter a woman’s so-called true measurements to create an image, especially with Marilyn, who was already rocketing to stardom. This, combined with Marilyn’s intimate knowledge of how to pose her body, apply make-up, and wear the right clothing to look thinner and more lean, shows us that we are all wrong to say we “know” what Marilyn’s true size was, whether than be a 4 or a 16.

        I would safely say that the only people who know Marilyn’s true measurements are the ones who knew her intimately, her dressmakers (the ones not influenced by the studios in reporting her measurements), and Marilyn herself. Marilyn suffered from weight gains and losses attributed to domestic life/pregnancy, health issues, prescription drug dependencies, and life/aging in general, as many women do. Let’s allow this wonderful woman to rest peacefully and remember her for her on-screen talents, compassion, and spirit without doing her the dishonor and injustice of bickering about her damn body size.

        Here are the 8 quotes I know from research to be falsely attributed to Marilyn:

        “This life is what you make it. Not matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And babe, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
        “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”
        “Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

        “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
        “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.”
        “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
        “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
        “I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”

        • I squealed when I saw your username, Zelda. I was utterly fascinated by Marilyn as a teenager in the 80s, and loved that Zelda Zonk was one of her pseudonyms. Your reply to the real quotes was also fabulous. Thanks! :)

      • Furthermore, the following is a very detailed and accurate collection of Marilyn information (specifically quotes with this link from dedicated fans and researchers:

        • Daven Hiskey

          @Zelda Zonk: Thanks for the detailed analysis. I edited the Marilyn Monroe quotes appropriately given your recommendations.

          • Great article Daven–thanks so much for all your interesting content (though I’m sure it was a labor of love :-)
            regarding Marilyn’s IQ, why do people keep saying “she never took an IQ test.” How the heck would they know. i DO know that Marilyn had undergone a great deal of psycho therapy. In order to create a profile, it’s quite likely she WAS given an IQ test. And if her IQ were measured to be quite high, more tests would have no doubt been administered, and word would have no doubt gotten out, but the studios would have made sure it was NEVER made public ( I know about the IQ testing through my own experience with psycho-therapy)

  • @tay – not necessary – A 30E (which is what I’d estimate Monroe to be more like) has a smaller chest measurement/breast size than a 36E. I’m still not convinced with the dress sizes – the photo used at the top in the article looks very similar to my dress size (a UK 8-10 / US 4-6). I guess actual ‘dress’ measurements can vary based on 1950’s styles. I have a small 24″ waist by my hips (about 36″) means I struggle to get into trousers that are a size 8 (US 4) I suspect the same would have applied to Monroe. I think in a way it is dangerous to peddle Monroe as a size 0, as she has been a pin up for a more natural female form than a lot of what we see today.

  • Marilyn and I have so much in common it’s scary. Our birthdays are even the same, how ’bout that?

  • I think you do need a post about bra sizes…sigh. Sizes beyond D didn’t really exist in the 1950s so I guess unless she got something custom made marilyn would have had to wear something like a 36D. If she lived now I would estimate she would fit a 28FF or or maybe 28G, ideally she could even be a 26G-26GG or something – but there is only one brand that makes 26 bras so yeah bit of a problem for small framed ladies. You don’t add 4 inches to the band or you get a way too big bra! Though lots of people still do it – that is the reason everyone (like Evy I bet) wears the wrong size! There is no way someone with a 22 waist would fit a 36, here underbust could not be more than 28! To truly be a 36 you would have to be overweight and she sure wasn’t she was tiny! Even if you added the 4 inches you would get a 32 size for someone like her – no where NEAR a 36! Go get bra-ducated people

  • I’m a 22 inch waist and its all natural. I was scouted as a professional model for this reason when I was younger. I’ve been the same size most of my young adult and adult life.

    My own mother is 5’10, has had 3 children and is barely a size 4. Its metabolism as much as it is genetics and bodyshape.

    I also have unusual 34 inch hip, 34 bust, for such a small waist line. That’s genetics!

    Please don’t say something a size 22 isn’t “healthily attainable”. I’m perfectly healthy and saying individuals can’t be otherwise is promoting anti-intellectualism of the body and is also promoting as much of a myth as saying Marilyn Monroe is a size 12-16.

    Individuals need to pay attention to their own body needs and health needs. Not everyone is built (literally) to have a size 22 inch waist line. We are all different shapes, statures– and we all have different needs! However, saying that a 22 inch isn’t “healthily attainable” is as unscientific as saying a 40 inch is unhealthy. It all depends on the build, metabolism, needs, genetics AND the person’s individual health!

  • When one is using needle and thread on a garment, it is sewn. When one is spreading seed in a field, it is sown.

    Probably a typo, as you say.

  • Size in inches is not the only thing that matters. Marilyn Monroe’s percentage of body fat IS higher than what is accepted in the modeling industry today, although no higher than someone like Jennifer Lawrence or Salma Hayek. In beach photos towared the end of her life she has visible cellulite, thighs that touch, and ripples on the sides of her waist. She also had a handful of extra fat on her lower stomach. In short, she had a womanly body… something women’s magazines do not approve.

    In general I appreciate this article, and Monroe was certainly far from plus-sized or even average-sized compared to modern women.

    • “thighs that touch”

      Please note, this is not even nearly a reliable indicator of body fat percentage. Yes, thighs fill out at a higher weight, but they also change size with muscularity; and the size at which they touch is determined by hip (pelvis) width.

      TL;DR: Large thighs set far apart might not touch, whereas slim thighs set close together might

    • cellulite is something every woman has, regardless of weight or body fat percentage cellulite is a part of what distinguishes females and a consequence of their hormones.

      • P.S.: and try being photographed in high waist briefs in certain poses and I bet you too will have “ripples on your waist” even if you are very thin

    • I read Norman Mailer’s biography of MM which included many beautiful pictures, and yes, she certainly had a lot more subcutaneous fat (that would account for those famous curves) than today’s stars who are on special diets and exercise routines. Of course, she was still a petite woman and not “fat” by any reasonable standard.

  • i dont see how any one could look at a picture of her and think she was in the double digits of clothes size. have you seen a person thats a size 16? marilyn did not much extra weight on her. shw was thin.

  • At least one of those measurements given is way off. If Marilyn’s bra size was a 36D, then your bust measurement of 35 is way off. 36 inches would be her under-bust, and then being a D cup, she would be four inches bigger than her band size at her bust measurement. So, she was really either a 40 inch bust, or she was only a 32C. Not a bra or body image expert, but if she’s a 36 anything then she’s not a 35 inch bust measurement. Can’t say I trust this article anymore for de-bunking a Marilyn myth :/

    • vintage bra sizes worked differently because the fabrics had much less elasticity than nowadays, that’s where the “+4″ or “+5″ method of bra fitting comes from and why it is outdated.

  • Sorry, but I have NEVER, EVER seen a photo of Marilyn Monroe in which she appeared to have a 22 inch waist! I believe this to be as much of a myth as her being today’s equivalent to a size 16. She was well proportioned, but did not have the wasp waist that 22 inches would have given her. The only time her waist looked small was when she was corseted. It’s possible that when corseted, her was was 22″, but NO WAY was that her natural waist measurement. With 35 inch hips, I’d guess her waist to be around “25, maybe 24. Look at photos of Audrey Hepburn (who I’m sure was also cinched and padded in some of her roles). Her waist was reported to be 21″. Even at her thinnest, Marilyn’s waist was always considerably wider than Audrey’s.

  • Okey, perhaps I can help a bit. I agree with Jasmin, I do not believe Marilyn Monroe waist was only 22 inches (in cms 55.9) that is simply not true. Why? I am a very naturally slim person and my shape is also hourglass (but not like Marilyn, smaller.Here, in Australia , I am size 6-8 (a smalll 8) which in America would be sizes 2-4 (I am 4 in Diane Von Furstenberg, to give an example but I was 2 in other brands). I can change sizes according to the brand but I am never more than a 4 American or 8 Australian. My waist is or 60 or 62cms (if I am ovulating) and my heaps are 90cms and my bust oscillates between 90-92cms (35.4 inches), so I wear bras that are 34D UK, Europe 75D and France 90D.I know the different brands may change but I am like that in Aubade, La Perla, Chantelle, Lise Charmel, and Simon Perele, to mention some) and that is for sure, they fit super well, I am not left with anything on the sides, I mean they fit marvellously, and I got told that all the time; nonetheless, with a smaller band I don’t feel that comfortable (in those brands with a smaller band I would be 32DD or 32E), because of my back of course. At first sight my bust may look smaller, that is why I do not trust all the girls who work in shops and apparently can help you with your fitting, they may be trained but they lack criteria, for they always think I am a B or C and a 32! perhaps they get confused because what I wear does not show my breast together, and because I am petite; yet when I try what they give me and doesn’t fit, they get surprised and only then is when they start trusting me and giving me bigger sizes, obviously they end up agreeing with me. One of the reasons why I am D is because my breast are not as close as other, and they always stay up (gravity and pregnancy never affected them, thank God). But hey, my breast can be C sometimes if I wear some Australian brand, but still not the same; the European brands are the ones that fit me better, maybe the cut, or because my figure is more European,I don’t know. So for what I have exposed, I believe that objectively, Marilyn Monroe could have been 36D, but I am sure she didn’t have a smaller waist than mine…not at all, it is soooo evident, if you see me that I am slimmer there than her. Don’t forget that oftenn movie starts lie about their measurements. I think they mostly do with their waist, because of the mytch! Also, I am very petite (1.59 cms) with long legs, so if you see me, you would totally agree with me.I don’t look skinny but I am slimmer than Marilyn.

    Perhaps I can help now about how having the right bust measurement. There is a lot of confusion because until a few years ago the bust were wrongly measured and many still do it now, and believe the old stuff, but now it has change, and yeah, the band is your underbust measurement, and then you have to find the size. If you can’t find the perfect one Lets say if you are UK34D, is better if you don’t buy a UK32DD or 32E, why because it is not quite the same, although sometimes it works. You know what is the beauty of those brands I am using? that once you try them you can even get them send to you from France and they will always, always fit, soooooo well! :) Hope I was of help :)

  • Those measurements would make her a size 0 or even 00 in today’s standards, that cant be right, right ?!

  • Interesting article. I thought it was common knowledge that sizes changed over the years due to the ever-expanding girth of people.

    One issue is the claims about modern models. While the stats are no doubt from their agents and presented as ‘facts’, they are simply incorrect. Modern models are not remotely curvy and are, in fact, ‘boyish’ in appearance.

    Marilyn would really stand out on a runway now.

    • She was not a runway model, she was a glamour/playboy model,there is a difference and even today its still not fashionable for glamour models to be stick thin or boyish like it is for fashion models. Glamour models are required to have curves& have similar proportions to Marilyn who’s playboy shoot done in the 50’s would still to this day fit in among the models of playboy, bodywise

  • thank you for this article I always knew there was no way she was that large! also thank you for not having that “I’m a little insecure…” quote!!! I had a feeling she didn’t say that either!

  • I do not believe that Marilyn ever came close to a size 16. She had a beautiful figure and my guess has always been that she was about the size of my younger sister who was a size 4-6. I am built exactly like Marilyn but taller and I was a size 10-12 in my younger years. Today in my 60’s I am a size 16 and trust me that is way bigger than Marilyn ever came close to even on her most bloated day (two Marilyns could fit in my pants now! it’s disgusting). Honestly all the bra talk, who really cares? She probably looked best without one and I suspect that she doffed the bra on many occasions.

    • Why does everyone think a size 16 is big and for fat people? I was a size 16 and only weighed 8st 3lb. I had a large bust and broad shoulders. My waist size was 14 but it’s difficult to get a dress with two different sizes unless it is made to measure. Size 16 isn’t for fat people unless you are 3ft tall.

  • She was a vintage size 12-16, which is more like a 2-6 nowadays. Vintage sizes are way different and usually run very small with a small waist.

  • I am 125lbs, shopping at Target I’d be a size 11, shopping at macy’s I’m a size 9/10, shopping at Anchor blue I’m a size 7. Marylin Monroe would be considered a plus size model, you can tell that looking at her shoulders and hips, I have her identical build and have to shop in the plus sizes and they don’t fit properly because they don’t complement my waist, which is about equal to my shoulders like Miss Monroe. So yes, Marilyn Monroe would be a size 12-16. People forget about the shape of a woman’s body, a woman can be “heavier” without looking like it, she has curves and all of her weight is well proportioned, she would be 12-16 petitie. Consider the curves on Beyonce & Jennifer Lopez, consider their height and those women are considered plus size. Kim Kardashian,Kathleen Turner back in the 80’s, Pam Grier in the 70’s, all of those women considered plus size but their bodies were well proportioned. Unlike these shapeless hollywood women of today. Hollywood wants their women to look like 11 years old boys with perky tits these days. Miss Monroe also wore Girddles and clothes were actually sewn onto her so a measurement in one dress may be completely different from a dress she would wear out of work.

  • Wow, that is very interesting. She was so plump. She really looks like she would fit a size 16 today.

  • A lot of these replies sound like wishful hoping.

    Marilyn was a tiny woman, give or take weight fluctuatioms.

    I am 36″ – 22″ – 34″

    I am 5′ 6″ and 118 lbs.

    There is NO WAY on GOD ‘S EARTH that I am anywhere near a US 12 – 16.

    Deal with it, ladies – she was tiny AND curvy.

    • @Boo:
      You clearly just wanted to post your hourglass stats. In response to your comments, I skimmed the replies and didn’t see a single post saying, “This is wrong, she was fat.” The closest I saw were people pointing out that Marilyn got heavier later in life (but still not large).

      • To be fair, if I was a 36 – 22 -34, I’d want to announce that to the world at every opportunity myself, cause, damn. Seriously, how did you do that? Is it mostly natural or do you have a specific eating / exercise routine? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • A 22 inch waist is what an 8 year old has. This measurement is mad for a healthy woman past puberty. your stomach and intestines wouldn’t fit long term! This will be a measurement wearing a corset.

    • For the first 37 yrs of my life, I was- 25 inches under bust, 33 across the bust, 21 inches in the waist, and 34-35 inches across the widest portion of my hips, 5’2 inches tall and 97-103 pounds. Thus was without any type of diet, exercise, or girdle or modification. My mother, two sisters, daughter, and niece were all/are now all approximately the same Why anyone finds that impossible to believe or thinks it’s unusual, truly confounds me. My mom has 8 sisters, as well, and 6 of those were all very close to this. It’s just genetics, because after I became ill, had to have a hysterectomy, I gained 47 lbs in 14 weeks, and have only been able to take off and keep off, about 22 lbs of it. Life’s just like that.

      Great site, BTW!

  • There are various measurements for Marilyn and she has been estimated to have been generally an 6/8 and up to a modern 10 in the some like it hot heavier years. I agree that the 22 waist measurement was with foundation garments. You have to take the clothing of the period into account – it was structured and designed to be worn with foundations.

    Marilyn was a healthy, curvy woman. But never big or plus sized.

    Elizabeth Hurley got her bust/measurements at a plastic surgeons office – She herself is not an hourglass, but it was pretty tacky of her to comment on a real curvy actress (who could act). Hurley’s (real) body is a ruler shape, straight up and down minimal curves. Not bust no hips, not much of a butt. So yeah, I guess Marilyn was “fat” to her, having hips. Nature balances shape, unlike modern surgically enhanced bodies.

  • Ugh, I get so sick of hearing 200lb sausage shaped women saying things like “Marilyn Monroe had a figure I can relate to unlike all these skinnies today”. You could cut the delusion with a knife.

    First off, Marilyn was never ever medically overweight or “fat”. She *did* become rather soft/voluptuous around ’59-60 after a string of failed pregnancies, at least by Hollywood standards, however even then she was only 140lb and a modern size 8-10 tops. Note that this was also considered rather too large and frowned upon by Hollywood even back in the day.

    However MM was also downright teeny tiny, itty-bitty in some movies – watch How to Marry a Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and River of No Return. I actually gasped at how tiny her waist was in How to Marry a Millionaire where she plays a fashion model. Put it this way – if Keira Knightley or Katherine Heigl could zip up her costumes from that movie I’d eat my hat. I fail to see any significant SIZE difference between Monroe and the typical modern starlet in most of her movies (other than those from the aforementioned ’59-60) other than her being relatively larger breasted and smaller waisted. The Hollywood trend does seem to have moved towards more what I’d call an “androgynous” body, however that is a *shape*, not a size, and is not related to caloric intake. Neither does it make one less of a “real woman”.

    It’s also wrong to assume that Hollywood standards for women’s bodies were any less oppressive in the 1940’s/50’s than they are today. First off, any woman less than a C cup was almost always portrayed as unattractive and undesirable whether she was thin or not. The flatter chested woman was always shown as doing menial work or as the dull wife that the husband was lured away from by the busty MM or Jayne Mansfield. Second, MM DID get labelled “fat” as soon as she gained a bit of weight.

  • I can tell you if she has a bust size of 35 she cannot have a bra size of 36D. The number in a bra messurement is the inchs of her underbust/chest, that bra size would implicate her bust is an inch inside her chest, not possible. The cup size which is the letter is based on how many inchs out the breasts are from the chest, so the difference between chest size and the bust size. Since the chest is wider than the waist we would have to assume her underbust messurement will be a bit higher than 22inch which you gave for her waist. I am an hour glass and I have about a 3inch difference between waist and chest so lets assume she was 25inch underbust. Because bra’s come in even numbers that would be rounded up and as their is a 10inch difference her bra size in Uk at least would be 26GG so a J cup is US based on those messurements. Those bra size charts on google are nonsense. I’m a 36E and fit those bras perfectly, if I went on bust size for the number which half seem to or just some weird number I would be a 42E or potentially 42D and I can tell you those bras would not touch the sides or fit at all, unless all the charts are US based then they use some strange over complicated system.

    • Marilyn might have fitted a 36D from 1950. The “add 4 or 5 inches” thing is outdated, but it did come from somewhere, when the first mass-produced bras were made of less elastic materials.

      My ribcage measures 27-28″ and MM’s build looks considerably lighter than mine, so 25-26″ sounds likely. Even so, that puts her in a ye olde band size 30… but bras only used to go up to a cup size of D.

      With measurements 25″ (assumed) and 35″, your assessment of MM’s fit in today’s bra sizes is right, but it’s also possible that she “fit” (of sorts) into a 1950s 36D.

  • You said
    ( Luckily, many of her dresses, carefully preserved, are still around to measure off of )

    How silly does that sound?

    Simply say ( Luckily, many of her dresses, carefully preserved, are still around to measure off)

    Off Of sounds silly ! Sounds like you are saying OFF OFF !

    • Linds, I find people from the US say “off of” at every opportunity. It’s fine.

    • Not really providing you don’t butcher simple pronunciation of the English language. Really it should be pronounced “off uhv”. And just for the record I’m not American, I’m English.

  • Sizes change. What was a 12 in my teenage years is a 4-6 now. My mother wore a size 12 as young girl at 5′ 3″ and 105 pounds. Marilyn may indeed have worn a “perfect” size 12 or “voluptuous” size 14 by the sizing of her day. It would make her a 0-2 in today’s sizes. Sadly we have gotten much bigger.

  • great article. I find it so interesting that her waist was supposedly, 22 inches… did she tight-lace, or wear a lot of corsets when she was younger or in her off time? (in a corset my waist can go as small as 24 but is naturally 27″) her waist just doesn’t appear THAT small. I know the camera adds a few pounds. she still looks petite, but a 22 inch waist is a stretch for me. scarlett johansson is considered an hourglass today and while she’s not as vava- voom as marilyn, her waist is 27 and she’s shorter than marilyn, but in pictures side by side, their waists don’t look too much different, in size, from one another.

  • Thanks for the article. And I cannot believe the long conversation about bra sizes … and the people pointing out grammar / spelling. Give the guy a break. Some people are not great writers. He got his points across …

    • If an article is published on the internet, it should most definitely be up for correction, both in facts and language, by readers. It improves the article for future readers.

      Bluntly implying that the author is not a great writer is tactless, I feel.

  • As a point of comparison, here are measurements for four major stars of the late 1920s and 1930s:

    Joan Crawford: 5’4″, 110 pounds, 37″ bust, 24.5″ waist, 37″ hips

    Greta Garbo: 5’6″, 125 pounds, 36-28-38

    Carole Lombard: 5’6″, 109 pounds, 34-28-38

    Clara Bow: 5’4″, 112 pounds, 33-24-36.5

    (Lombard’s height has been listed between 5’2″ and 5’6″, although one major biographer claims she was 5’4.5″. Her bra size was 34B. Carole was curvier in the late 20s; she then shed a few pounds to gain the lithe, sleek figure she’s best remembered for.)

  • I’ve heard this about Marylin but only in context of British sizing – British sizes being about +4 on US sizing – so in this case a UK 16 is a US 12 and probably the scale Liz Hurley was talking on, seeing as how she is British.

    This would make 12-16 a more reasonable estimate.

    This article does not make this difference clear and I have to wonder whether the writer considered this and from where the sources of information came from. It could be they are getting their international wires crossed.

  • Another typo – “sewn” not “sown” with the latter being a farming term and the former being a dressmaking term. :-)

  • People. Please get a life. To this day i barely hear a word said about Ghandi, or say Nikola Tesla, but marilyn monroe, possibly the worst role model EVER, who has done nothing beneficial to the world except provide the illusion to women that she has increased EVERY woman’s self-worth, and therefore she is practically an altruistic deity. why are you people so insecure you need facts on someone’s clothes size to ensure that she is certified in making you feel better about yourself through her “inspiration” and the “symbol” she was. Listen marilyn monroe didnt give two craps about how you felt about yourself, she didnt feel good enough about herself to not end it. And furthermore the greatest fallacy of our time is the idea that SELF-WORTH is the greatest of all morals and ethics. ME, ME, ME. How I feel. Please, get a life, you seriously have nothing better to discuss? Well actually clearly, and me too, clearly.

  • Go back to the dress patterns of the time and you will see that sizes have changed.
    You couldn’t fit a modern woman in a dress from back then. In 1950s sizes, she may well have been a 12-16, but that would be tiny today. My mother’s wedding dress from 1950 was a 10 but I couldn’t squeeze it on my size 6 body 20 years later

  • “To this point, the average American woman in the 1950s had a 25 inch waist compared to Monroe’s 22 inches. Whereas today, the average American woman has a waist size of 34 inches”

    This is what the “Fat Acceptance” movement has brought to the world.

  • All the comments about bra/bust size remind me of some of those social websites where the guys ask women inappropriate questions like what bra size they are. Those guys would have a field day here. *lol*

  • - I’m a 34DD … a tape measure around my chest gives me a 36″ bust, so it’s not impossible that Marilyn had a 35″ bust measurement.

    – I wear a size 5 in modern clothing. I use a size 14 dress pattern. I believe this is where the “Marilyn was a size 12-14″ thing comes from.
    -Enough has been said about vintage sizing vs modern sizing that I don’t need to repeat it. I remember an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy was trying to shrink down to fit into a “tiny” size 6 costume in order to be allowed to perform with Ricky. Of course, he assumed she couldn’t do it, but she did. :)
    – I would venture to say that much of Marilyn’s 22″ waist measurement was attained with corsets. She was probably more of a 24-25″ waist naturally.

  • Kirsten Houseknecht

    with a 37 inch bust, a 23.5 inch waist, and a 37.5 inch hip (according to one screen test measurements for costume….) she would most certainly NOT be a size 0

    that is one size up from my fashion design standard dress form size 10 (which is more like a ready to wear size 8) so she would be a size 10/12 on the wolf dress form, or about a size 10 in ready to wear

    depending of course on what dart board the manufacturer used to create their size chart

  • Kirsten Houseknecht

    i will also say that relying on a studio to tell you a actresses weight, or measurements is laughable, ESPECIALLY back then.

    remember the studio manufactured everything to make their stars look good

    as to size? and how thin the modesla er these days? look at the measurements of the very first “Miss America” she would be sent to the chubby seat these days

  • Her bra size was nowhere near a 36D. With a 22 inch waist, she would likely have been a 28G or 26GG, although most women don’t even know these sizes exist because WalMart and Playtex and Hanes don’t even make them.

  • An obscure fact about MM:

    Early in her career as a model and aspiring actress – this would have been during and shortly after the war – she was an active and skilled surfer. Marilyn loved the ocean and was a good swimmer. She liked to spend time on the beach at Malibu and became friends with many of the crowd of young people who pioneered the surfing lifestyle in the area. Malibu was the center of Southern California’s surfing culture. Marilyn became an enthusiastic surfer and ‘regular’ on the local surfing scene, which, though little-known even in the area, grew into a huge subculture by the time she became a major star.

    Marilyn became famous for her beauty and striking blonde looks, but as a young woman was known among her surfing friends for her athleticism and skill on the waves.

  • MM was not ONE size, like ALL people her weight fluctuated sometimes very thin sometimes she has a belly -the size that never changed was her heart which was always monumental
    she was a beautiful lady but if you think it was all in her looks you are missing out on who she was which was a beautiful person and actress.

    she was also a RED HEAD not brunette as this article states.She had light red hair as a teen.

  • Even though you were guessing at sizes, I was almost the exact same measurements as a teen-20’s, 35-23-35 and 5’5″ and I wore between a 6-8. So now you are underexagerating her size , I think. Especially since I wore the same bra size! There is no way a 36D would fit in a size 0 unless you were bound like Milan as a boy!

  • Seriously. This woman was tiny. Did you even see the dress she wore to sing Happy Birthday to President Kennedy? The difference is, she had curves.

  • I could have guessed that this article was written by a man as soon as I saw the bra size. So bra sizes work like this. The band size is how many inches around your rib cage is, the cup is how many inches larger you are when you factor in the actual boobs. Which means that if her bust was 35″ around, there is no way a 36 inch band would fit her. A 36D is made to fit a woman who is about 40″ around the bust. Similarly a 38C and a 34DD fit women who are approximately 40-41 inches around in the bust but factoring that some women have a larger rib cage to bust ratio and others have a smaller rib cage to bust ratio. Now cup sizes have been scaled down over the years, which is why I’m 40 inches around in the bust, but a 32G (which is a full cup size larger than I would be based off of how bras are actually supposed to be measured). Assuming your measurements for Marilyn are correct, she’d probably be a 28G (keeping in mind that different brands label sizes differently when you get up above D)

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Jali: Exactly on the sizing discrepancies. The problem with all this bra discussion is, I think, the idea that there is a standard bra sizing system in place and that this has stayed constant from when Monroe lived to now. This simply isn’t the case, with, I’m sure as most women know, a 36D in one manufacturer’s estimation being different than in others, let alone from country to country and decade to decade. Women’s clothing and underwear sizing systems are a mess and need some agency to step in to set hard standards across manufacturers and the like. We men have it a bit easier there. :-)

    • Jali, no small number of women are clueless about bra sizing. The “+4 or 5 inches” system used to be valid when materials weren’t (so) elastic, and the problem of oversized bands comes from women today adhering to that old convention.

      I would guess an underbust measurement of about 28″ for MM, but she may well have been a legit 34 band in her day.

      That said, you have a point in that this article was supposed to clear up confusion about sizing, and while it did so for clothes sizes, the same has not been done for bra sizing (as is obvious by the comments here).

  • Oh, how i’d love to smack Elizabeth Hurley in the mouth.

  • I’m sorry but I do not believe this article for a second. All you have to do is look at pics of Marilyn back in the day and know that these measurements are bunk. By no means was Marilyn Monroe fat but she definitely did not have a 22 inch waist either.

  • i find it slightly bemusing the emphasis white folks put on skinny shapes, and especially this one person. I have seen other white stars from the 50s and she is NOT the hottest.
    and none of them meet sir mix a lots nor my criteria, you gotta have back!!!!.

  • Ok, for starters those ‘measurements” are when Marilyn was much younger. when she passed away she was 150 pounds. she always had a weight problem but that’s what made her beautiful, she was full figured. Look at the video at President Kennedy’s Birthday party. She was not small. that’s when she was a size 14-16. She’s beautiful no matter what size.

    • MM was 117 pounds at the time of her death. she was tiny at Kennedy gala. Have you seen the backstage pix?

      She was underweight, IMO, at that time.

  • At age 16 in 1964 I was a size 12,
    34 -22- 36, 135 pounds … not fat sizes were different then they are now…

  • She was a tiny and curvy woman of average height by any not forget that any photo gives an illusion of extra 10-15lb packed on your body…that is why slim and tall girls are such popular models … as to her jean size translated into modern times I estimated it to be between 25-26… yes, we do not wear jeans at waist , but we do not wear them at low hip either, where the widest hip measurement is…we wear them at high hip… and for the woman with such tiny waist and 35″ lo hip it would be size 25-26… 15 years of work experience in Fashion Industry …trust me..:)

  • Matt Sowerssrsbry

    Ha ha! ‘Yank’ magazine! Oh man I wish they still were in business. That is priceless.
    Marylin Monroe had a great figure and she was hyper-feminine which let’s face it all men love sometimes.
    And she was in ‘Yank’ magazine hee hee hee

  • Great article. People work so hard to find excuses for their bad choices…

  • Her bra size is wrong. If her measurements were 35 chest, 22 waist her under bust ( band size) would be anywhere from a 26 to a 29 which would make her bra size around a 32 E. Putting a bra on that is 36 D ? Really…it would slide up every time she moved her arms over head… My measurements are 38 -29 -38 and I am 5′ 5″ a very healthy size … I wear a size 8 comfortably and a bra that fits 32 F perfectly… I weigh 150 lbs dead on… Some people call me chubby ( childless younger women lol), some people call me slim…( women my age who have had kids like me…I am 50 by the way…) I love my size…I used to be thinner in my 30’s I weighed 120 lbs but I looked awful… I am curvy and parts of me jiggle lol…every woman is different… and MM well she changed her shape continually…with each relationship and every movie…but know one ever noticed he acting skills did they…

    • Adrenne… there is a lot of discussion about bra size, above. And Monroe’s comedic acting chops are well-recognised.

  • A size two! Ha, maybe by Hollywood standards and no concept size. There are way too many other articles that contradicts what you are saying her. But hey I guess anything to make her perfect. Look at her pics and the pic of an average actress or singer today , she was clearly larger. She can’t be a size 2 if they are a size 2, that’s simple common sense. What’s a shame is if you really love her like you fans say you do…you would love her despite her plus size. Yup, I said plus size. Plus size does not equal fat. Get over it people. The average woman today is a size 10-12.

    • Whatever: your post is super-weird and hostile. Do you know who that woman is, in the photo at the top of the page, with the vanishing midsection? Even if the dressmakers’ measurements run small, the young MM had a size 00 waist, size 2 hips and a size 4 bust.

  • Well they also wore high rising pants back then. The waistline would cover the belly button. Her pants would actually be fitted at the waist and not around the hips. If anyone has seen the high rising pants before, you would now they round out towards the bottom, so her pants would of fit just fine. If she was still alive these days, she would probably be wearing leggings or hipster jeans that sit just at the hips. Her waist would be covered by a shirt :)

  • One small problem with this article, is that either the writer is a liar or the sources are. A bra size 36D means that the band size (below breasts) =36 inches plus add each additional cup size over A = 1 inch. If you do the math, her bust size would actually be 40 inches at the fullest part. This is exactly 5 inches greater than her supposed measurements of 35-22-35. I have some good photos of Marilyn when she started her modelling career at age 18. Naked, she looked about a size 4 in today’s standards to me. As she entered her 30s, she looked much heavier from drinking and I’d guess her to be closer to a size 8-10 in today’s standard. She lost weight again after a gallbladder operation, then gained it back. If you closely follow her pictures, it’s hard not to notice. She needed help getting dressed and didn’t wear underwear as she tried to squeeze her growing body into small sizes. If she were alive today, no way would she fit size 0.

    • thathatlady, it’s all addressed above.

      The “+4 or 5 inches” thing doesn’t work today, but the reason it’s hanging around is that it used to work. MM would probably fit into a 28F bra today — almost a sister size of 36D.

      The post only says MM’s *waist* was sub size-0 while her hip measurement of 35″ would require a size 4 or so.

  • Women really don’t get men, do they?

  • What is sad is that after all of the research you did you didn’t take the time to actually research what size she was when she was more plump. This picture you show at the top is the skinniest picture I have ever seen of her, and I haven’t seen a movie yet where she was even anywhere close to that size. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one, but I haven’t seen it yet. Some Like it Hot is my fave of hers, I would say she was at least a size 6 or possibly even up to a size 8 in today’s standard. If you’re going to be accurate, why not be accurate all around instead of just choosing one slant you want to make?

  • Where this exactly got started about her being a size 12 you don’t know? Why would you write an article about her if you don’t know this. It comes from the movie “The Misfits”. Her character says she’s a size 12 and Clark Gable’s character repeats it later. “Size 12″ he says. THAT’S where it got it started – out of the horse’s mouth!

  • “…have to be sown onto her, …” *sewn*; *sown* has to do with planting crops.

  • I disagree, she wasn’t that thin, the 35 inches is bull, unless it was taken when she was at her thinnest period of time, when she make the movie something got to give.
    When she started she was 36-24-36 or around that, maybe an inch bigger, when she got fat and she was still gorgeous she was much bigger, I have seen Monroe next to Maria Callas, Callas was a tall woman and very thin and Monroe looked literally double than Callas. I can believe Callas was 35 inches, not Monroe whatsoever.

    So what if people are calling Monroe fat? even when she was fat and round and full she was still much more beautiful than most today’s actresses with better charisma, being little fat is not a bad thing whatsoever, Beyonce, Lopez, and so many super sexy women are round, have lots of meat on them and guys go crazy for them…..I don;t get that skinny mania size 0 thing, the woman looks overly thin and unhealthy, with no muscles on her, thats not very good at all.

    • This is insane! MM standing next to Callas is very small. Her bosom doesn’t look big, she’s extremely slender. This was the thinnest she’d been in ten years!

  • For all those people disbelieving this article, I’ve seen the dress she wore in The Seven Year Itch – it is tiny. The waist is incredibly small. I have a 24 inch waist and would seriously struggle getting it on. Keira Knightley’s dress from Atonement was at the same exhibition, and while the bust and hip of the two dresses was very different, the waist size would have been close to identical.
    As for sizing, (@ Autumn’s comment in particular), what so many people are clearly ignorant of is vintage sizing. I make my own clothes and own many vintage patterns. A vintage (1930s to 1950s) size 12 pattern has the measurements 32-24-34. You can do a search for yourself and confirm this. So while Monroe’s clothes may have been around a size 12-14 in the 1950s, sizes from the 1950s bear no resemblance to the same numerical size today.

  • The bra size stated has got to be way off.

    “35 inch bust; 22 inch waist (approximately 2-3 inches less than the average American woman in the 1950s and 12 inches less than average today); and 35 inch hips, with a bra size of 36D.”

    A bust measurement is the around the widest part of the breast. The number part of the bra size is the measurement of the rib cage below the breast, where the band goes around. With a 36 inch band size and 35 inch bust her boobs would have to be… concave.

    Source, and pictures:,901,30.html

  • Every comment about bra sizes that I’ve read had been wrong. Wow! You measure under the boob, then around the fullest part of the boob. How ever many inches apart the numbers are determine the cup size. So 36D is accurate, and you’re all idiots. You’re welcome.

  • Dev is right about bra size.
    I find it strange that people don’t know where the hips and waist are located. I was taught, way before ridiculous low rise jeans, your waist is where you bend sideways. It really is. Clothing is not sized the same even from brand to brand sometimes, and I don’t think it matters what size Marilyn wore, she was beautiful. Anyone who called her fat is either jealous, ignorant, or just plain stupid.
    That said, I wish they would quit making adult clothes for little girls, especially underwear. I just had to get that in there. Children grow up too fast and don’t need to be little me’s.

  • It’s actually not a myth that she was a size 12-16. It’s only that American size standards have changed. That’s basically it.

    According to your measurements, she’s actually still those same sizes in Australia/NZ. Her bust and hips are only an inch less than mine (but she falls into the same size category), and I’m a 12-14 in Australia.

  • Well holy carp. I had a 22-inch waist when I was 14, I remember because I had to bring in a dress. It was really tiny looking even on me.

  • Hmm. I am making no judgement about the attractiveness of either woman, as I think they are both lovely. But I will say that having similar measurements with a height difference of 5 inches means that Elizabeth Hurley is quite a lot skinnier than Marilyn Monroe. As a woman who is 6 feet tall, reading the measurements quoted in this article means very little to me except in the few cases where the height was also mentioned. My measurements are quite a bit larger than my friends who are average height, but with the same BMI as mine. Hopefully, we will get to a point where people won’t be so obsessed with the size of women, and just appreciate them.

  • I had no idea she was so short. She and Elvis also. But this poor girl had one crappy life. It seems she was taken advantage by every *hole around – except maybe DiMaggio but I do not know enough about him, but I think most men treated her like a slut – especially Jack and Bobby.Who got their just rewards.

  • Ok! So if clothing sizes now are designed to flatter us modern day greedy guts, how come when I was younger and much heavier I was wearing a size 16/18 and now much lighter I am measuring in at a size 16?

    I believe there is a larger game at play….
    melting women’s brains and making them buy into the diet and weight-loss culture where big companies have much to gain from insecure women.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Clare: When you were younger, were you more in shape, muscle-wise? Muscle weighs drastically more than fat and it’s why an athletic woman might weigh 145-150 pounds while a “skinny-fat” version of herself that just focuses on cardio would be much bigger dimensions wise, but might weigh 10 to 20 pounds less. I actually know a woman like this who tends to lose weight even as she looks fatter during times she stops her normal workout routine in favor of just cardio or nothing. Agree with your second point though, at least in some industries, but it doesn’t just apply to women. On that note, this article may be of interest to you.

  • @Daven Hiskey
    No I was way out of shape back then. I was weighing in at 15st.
    Now I am fit, healthy and a regular at the gym with a free weighs routine, core and a little cardio to keep my heart healthy. I still have some older jeans size 12 which fit me but shopping for our modern sizes I am the measurements for a size 16 according to most measurements and some places a size 18.
    I am a qualified fitness instructor so I understand that muscle weighs more than fat.

  • @Daven Hiskey
    No I was way out of shape back then. I was weighing in at 15st.
    Now I am fit, healthy and a regular at the gym with a free weighs routine, core and a little cardio to keep my heart healthy. I still have some older jeans size 12 which fit me but shopping for our modern sizes I am the measurements for a size 16 according to most measurements and some places a size 18.
    I am a qualified fitness instructor so I understand that muscle weighs more than fat.
    Yes women are mainly and traditionally targeted by marketing, it is also targeted at men and sadly children too.

  • The average American woman today has a 34-inch waist?

    F it, I’m never getting married.

  • Marilyn was 5′ 5.5″ that is well documented. Elizabeth Hurley by all accounts is 5’8″ exactly. So their height difference is 2 and a half inches, NOT the 5 inches Daven states. That’s a substantial difference.

    Interesting article but one would think that in a piece whose entire point is “accurate measurements” he would have gotten his facts correct.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @RIK: Depends on which sources you believe on her height. :-) If you know of one where Hurley herself says it, I’d be very interested to see it. We are extremely interesting in the finer details here on TIFO.

  • The firm fitting undergarments of the time helped give the hourglass figure with her waist measurement smaller than the average, ungirdled, woman today. It also, to some extent, stabilized her shape even through minor weight changes in a way that todays stretchy clothes, and stretchy girdles like Spanxx, dont.

  • She was pregnant a few times(that we know of) also lets no forget that…

  • The bra size issue is a common one. Women who were taught bra fitting in the 80s and earlier were all taught to take the underbust measurement and add 4 inches to get the band number. Modern bra technology renders the additional numbers unnecessary. It’s a bit like vanity sizing – so if you are going to put in that her bra size is 36D, you should point out that is 1950s sizing also (like the dress sizing, which is what this article is all about!). So, if you see a statistic like ‘the average bra size has increased from 34B to 36C since the 1950s’ (these statistics vary a bit), you actually need to drop 4 off the first statistic, so it’s a 30B to a 36C, which is much more in line with what we’ve seen in average dress sizes. People still don’t know about the change in general, and it’s causing a number of problems that are only slowly being corrected. Most places don’t stock bands below a 32, yet basically all size 0s, 2s and plenty of 4s should be taking either a 30 or a 28, which in the US (and Australia) is very difficult to find (it is much easier in the UK). Consequently many women are not getting the right amount of support, causing back problems etc. You can’t even trust the ladies in the fitting rooms, because often their training is so out of date that they can’t help you properly.

  • I don’t understand the commenters saying that they don’t believe the measurements when that is the one thing we have concrete proof of – the dresses!

    It does seem to have fluctuated though and she certainly looked considerably larger in her later years. I would be interested to know if any dresses from that stage in her life are still in existence.

  • Sorry, but back in the day those measurements were for a size 12. I was her size in the sixties.

  • Before the drugs and fake persona she was indeed a lot larger. And not blonde..

    The sizes used back then are different from those used today also..

    And I highly doubt she’d release her real measurements in the first place. It’s all Chinese whispers.

    Look at her picks ALL of them. Look at them over a 10 year period. At one point she’s super skinny another she’s a little pudgy and another she’s average for back then. Her weigh fluctuated and being sexy had nothing to do with her weight. It was her confidence and attitude, the persona she put on.

  • I have seen her dresses and it is clear she was tiny, this “size 16″ thing really annoys me, afraid people are dreaming, stars in the 50’s where small but curvy. In the late 50;s ( some like it hot) she was a little heavier but most of her life she was a very slender hourglass.

  • By1962 she was super slim again, late 50’s was the slightly larger era

  • The Marylin Monroe was a size 12-16 thing has just been reiterated SO many times that despite the fact that we all have easy access to photos of Marylin Monroe, people just want to ignore reality & believe what they want to to make themselves feel good. Usually the people I hear screaming this over & over are bigger girls that seem to use the word curvy interchangeably with plus-sized, & have convinced themselves that if you’re not plus-sized, you’re therefore not curvy & therefore not feminine. A size 12 back in the 50s was equivalent to about maybe a size 4 or so of today’s sizes. Anyone with normal vision can see that if you compare a size 12-16 woman today with a photo of Marylin, there’s a huge difference. Brands cut sizes larger because people are larger now, & it’s good marketing, yet according to some people, they size everything tiny because they want to make us feel bad. I actually heard this conversation recently between 2 girls that seemed to think that since the average US woman’s size was a 14, therefore a 14-16 should be a size S, and 18-20 a size M, and a 22-24 L, and so on. Some want to believe that in this case ‘average’ means a medium sized person, but it doesn’t. And I guess those of us that are under a 14 can just shop in the boys section, being that we’re according to some just all unfeminine & look like adolescent young boys anyway. Friggin ridiculous.

    • Absolutely correct. I still have clothes from the 1980’s which clearly prove that they are deliberately making sizes larger. What is now a size 8 used to be a size 12. They must accommodate the denial and egos of so many overweight individuals.

  • Interesting article. I wish we could agree on some international sizing standards – it would make clothes shopping much simpler. The European ones (40, 42 etc) seem to be the most consistent. In Australia M is 12-14, S is 8-10 but each manufacturer is a bit different in regard to actual measurements. Even different ranges from the same manufacturer have different sizing.
    Since you appear to be receptive to comments by so-called “Grammar Nazis”, may I say that “Luckily, many of her dresses, carefully preserved, are still around to measure off of.” sounds clumsy. Is any preposition necessary or could you just stop at “measure'”? Or, if you must have a preposition, what is wrong with just “to measure off” or “to measure from.”
    I’m unsure why the redundant “of” after “off” has come into being – it is one of my pet linguistic annoyances along with “I would of.” instead of or “I would have” or (in reported speech) “I would’ve.” Poor little “of” is so overworked and not appreciated for his true identity.
    I do understand the time-consuming and tiring nature of proof reading and I like your undefensive attitude to your critics. I like the site because it doesn’t require me to waste my time creating an account before I can comment and the other commenters seem to have something to say rather than just point scoring.

  • Correction to my above comment. No edit function, alas.

    I’m unsure why the redundant “of” after “off” has come into being – it is one of my pet linguistic annoyances along with “I would of” instead of “I would have” or (in reported speech) “I would’ve.”

  • One reason Marilyn’s shape was great and weight so low is that she WORKED at it!

    I have 2 photos, one showing her doing bench presses, and another showing her jogging in the alleys of Hollywood, wearing sweats. She never made a big deal about it, probably even hid that “secret” as another way to preserve her image. Or perhaps the studios wanted to perpetuate her image of a magical goddess.

  • Marilyn could have been a size 12 in her day. Clothes are made much bigger now. They are made bigger now than they were even in the 1980’s.

  • You can’t have a bust measurement of 35 and be a 36 D… Your bust would have to measure at 40. So someone got something wrong in this “factually correct” article.

  • Sizing changes to reflect the rich so they feel good about themselves, really think about it, how can csize change on an item that is standard, you never hear of mens sizes changing do you? Who cares about size, all this media/celebrity stuff just feeds egos….

  • “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat” – Liz Hurley … Sadly, she did kill herself! (depending on what you believe)

    Referring to individual photos of the person in question or even some of her dresses, does not give an accurate picture.

    It was also popular for women to be corseted or wear shapewear. Especially on film. Although it is also true that Marilyn enjoyed being naked.

    Marilyn Monroes weight fluctuated a great deal, throughout her career. At one point, she was what we today would consider overweight at least in media standards.

    Her weight went up and down so dramatically during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl that the costume designer, Beatrice Dawson, had to create facsimile dresses in different sizes. “I have two ulcers from this film,” she said, “and they’re both monogrammed MM.”

    Whatever we believe about her size, she was nonetheless very unhappy with a fuller figure. She lost the weight and was really happy with her new slimmer figure, but sadly never overcame her problems with depression.

    So sad that even today, we are discussing her weight. She was a beautiful lady. I absolutely love Some Like It Hot. Admittedly, it would have been nothing without the fantastic comedic duo, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

  • Ok, how could she have a 35 inch bust, but wear a 36 D bra?? That doesn’t make sense.

  • Just what I’ve been saying all these years…there is no way she was anything like the size 12-16 of today.
    Does that mean a modern size 12-16 can’t be beautiful? Of course not. But I believe that is why some larger women tend to cling to this myth that Marilyn looked just like them…they want to feel better about themselves and to be seen as beautiful, too.
    By claiming that she was “plus size” it makes them feel good in a society where thinness is often synonymous with beauty.

    Many bigger women can indeed be beautiful and charming and sexy, but it is a bit delusional to claim that they have Marilyn’s proportions when they don’t.
    I know somebody who is pushing 250 lbs. and loves to talk about how she is just like Marilyn. Is she attractive in her own way? Definitely…but to compare herself with a movie star who was teeny-tiny, yet had hourglass curves? No way.

    And I’ve been on both sides of the fence in terms of weight. I had a body very similar to Marilyn in my teens and early 20’s…slender, but with nice curves.
    Now I am overweight and I can be honest with myself about it. It doesn’t mean you have to hate your body or that beauty is about being skinny (it isn’t).
    But I think those that often talk about Marilyn being a poster girl for heavy women are delusional and misinformed. Marilyn had a very small frame…even some thin women who have tried on her dresses can’t zip them up! That’s how tiny she was.

    As to her bra size, I’ve often seen it stated as a 36D but I doubt that.
    I’ve read that sometimes she liked to wear falsies…she had a nice pair of boobs, but they weren’t overly big, more on the small to medium side.
    Most likely they seemed larger because the rest of her was pretty small.
    Sometimes people think that slender women can’t also be curvy, but Marilyn was one of the few with pronounced curves.

  • I see lots of mistakes on facts, but I see different facts every where on MM. I’ve read somewhere that she was 117 lbs, 34 C when she died (can’t find the website, sorry). I keep seeing everywhere that she was a 36 D. Maybe when she was at her biggest weight and that was about 140 lbs. I am 5 ft 5.5 (same as MM) and can relate. I have been about 118 lbs – 122 lbs most of my life, with a 24 inch waste (after having 5 children). When I was at my biggest (not pregnant) 138 lbs, I was a 36 C, last clip and it was snug. There is no way that she was 140 lbs with a 22 inch waste line. However, I’m sure when she was 118 lbs she had a 22 inch waste line.

  • Our bodies change often. I was 117 lbs in high school, with and A 32 bust. The smallest I weighed was after having my 2nd child was 100 lbs, size zero, or a kids 16 (stressed out). I was a B 32 at that time. And at one time, I was at 105-108 lbs for about 3 yrs. I was a B 34 during that time. After that I was 114 lbs for a few years. I was a B 34 during that time. When I got back to my normal weight and had 5 children, I was back to my normal weight 117 lbs, but this time I was a C 32. During pregnancies, I was D 38. And my highest non-pregnancy weight was 138 lbs, and a C 36-38 (last clip). So many details, but I wanted to show you all that our weight can fluctuate many times throughout our lives. Today I am 119 lbs, C 34-36. If you want to know MM’s weight and bra size, then look at each photo shoot and movie and match her up with someone that size. Her weight fluctuated, which means so does her bra size. Maybe I am wearing the wrong bra size but I do know that every time my weight goes up and down, so does my bra size.

  • Marilyn was a lovely size 12. Industry sizes have changed over the years, sometime in the early 1970’s a 16 became a 12.

  • I liked your article, and your commentators. NASA, NS3006 Bioastronautics said the average woman was 5’4″ 120lb, so she was pretty normal. Mad scientist Dev Singh said the ideal shape had a hip/waist ratio of 0.65, similar to the mid century magazine editor ideal of “36-24-36″. She was a fine, not far off average normal gal with a special spiritual quality.

  • Take into considersation that dress sizing back than is farrrrr from what it is now. Women and measurements ran smaller. My grandmother is a seamstress and has vintage patterns I always use to look through and the size charts are astronomically different, a size 10 is 32-22-32, a size 12 being 34-24-34.

  • I’m sure someone has already said this, but sizes were different back in her time. Naval uniforms are still sized based on old measurements so I was shocked when I was fitted for my uniforms and was given sizes 10 and 12 because I wore a size 4 in jeans at the time. She probably DID wear a size 12, just not today’s size 12.

  • You need to do your research. I am a size 6 in commercially made cloths. I am a size 14 in pattern sizes for clothing. I am a 16 in antique patterns. I am a seamstress, so I know measurements. This is a miss understanding, not a myth. 34:24:34 would be a mix of a size 10 and 16 (because, tailored) in patterns from the 50’s. Any sewist can explain in more detail if you have questions.

  • The proof that she was NOT fat is shown in the centerfold she posed for in Playboy. Her figure was flawless.

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