In Her Words
New Marilyn Monroe Pictures Released
Marilyn still sets the standard for beauty
-April Daniels Hussar
Ah, Marilyn Monroe … It’s been a half a century since her heyday and still no modern starlet can hold a candle to her sweet beauty. Look at all those who try to imitate her … from Madonna‘s gross distortion of the blond bombshell look to Lindsay Lohan‘s disturbingly sad reenactment of the famous scarf sessions. There was a lovely softness to Marilyn that is missing among today’s celebrities – can you imagine Marilyn Monroe with whip-strong biceps and abs of steel? Impossible!
It’s amazing how Marilyn still captures our imagination and fantasies after all this time – just look at the excitement over the release of these previously unpublished photos of the naturally beautiful young woman who would go on to become a true icon. Growing up, I had one of those intense girl crushes on Marilyn – a framed print of Marilyn in a floating chiffon ballet skirt always hung in the place of honor in my bedroom.
Of course, especially in later photographs, there’s a sadness in Marilyn’s eyes. She had, it seems, more than her share of heartbreak and insecurity – and in the end she died, alone, of those very problems. But somehow that fragility made her even more beautiful – she was no stone-cold goddess, no super-female “doing it all,” but a vulnerable woman who carried the spirit of a fragile and innocent girlhood within her always.
Marilyn, for all her faults and weaknesses, possessed an essential loveliness, a sweetness that makes today’s beauties seem so carved and harsh. There was no element of snark, no hip irony or hard-assed cool to her – just simple, true beauty.
That softness is what’s missing today, I think, and what makes us gaze wistfully at the pretty girl in these old photos. The current standard of womanly attractiveness is such a hard standard, icy and muscular, flat and taut and rigid. In contrast, Marilyn – with her voluptuous girlishness, her open smile, her softness – still enthralls.
She may have been a candle in the wind, but Marilyn Monroe‘s flame is eternal.
These never-before-published photographs of a 24-year-old Marilyn Monroe were taken by LIFE photographer Ed Clark in August 1950. You can see more at LIFE.com.