This weekend I went to a small, independent theater and saw My Week with Marilyn, since it had already left mainstream theaters. Not only was the movie itself very good, but it left me pondering about what constitutes attractiveness in today’s culture, and what caused the apparent shift in perspectives.

I then happened upon an interview conducted with Marilyn in a 1952 magazine article, where she describes her daily routine. Among other things, she mentions her daily workout and diet plan, which would shock most people today if any of us were to suggest it as “healthy.”

Her daily workout routine doesn’t include any time on the treadmill at all, and she doesn’t seem to lift weights over 5 pounds. She goes so far as to say she spends “at least” 10 minutes each morning doing exercises that keep her wobbly bits firm, as if that amount of time were noteworthy in the 50s. In today’s workout obsessed world, someone might be laughed out of the gym at that remark.

As far as food goes, the current US food pyramid would have a field day with her. Full fat milk and raw eggs during the morning; steak, lamb chops and liver at night – hardly any carbs and tons of fat! Interestingly, her diet is very reminiscent to the ideals of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Perhaps my favorite quote from the article is in terms of skin care: “Despite its great vogue in California, I don’t think sun-tanned skin is any more attractive than white skin, or any healthier, for that matter. I’m personally opposed to a deep tan because I like to feel blonde all over.”

You can find the article here. Tell me what you think about today’s food and diet attitudes compared with hers!

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15 thoughts on “Diet and Exercise According to Marilyn Monroe

  1. What a fascinating article! It’s been really interesting to see all of the research and stories from different people over the last few years that have been supporting a high protein, high fat diet, and it’s especially interesting to hear that one of the great sex icons of our time followed this type of eating. I would love if you’d come share this article over at my round-up, Whole Food Wednesday’s: http://www.beyondthepeel.net/2012/02/wfw-cod-with-chermoula.html

    Have a great day!

    1. I was actually really surprised when I read the article, and think it’s proof of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into with the current USDA food guidelines! I’ll be checking out your blog 🙂

  2. She looks bigger/less skinny than today’s actresses without looking overweight! It makes me wonder, why does almost every picture I have seen of a current actress either show a very thin or definitely overweight woman?

    1. You know, I think it has to do with that concept of “moderation”. There is just no such thing anymore. It’s either a matter of eating nothing at all and starving yourself, of giving heed to complete gluttony and ballooning up.

  3. i don’t think the FDA has anything wrong re the food pyramid – they have it exactly where they want it: in the hands of corporate food. Most of the people who decide on the percentages of what you need and how many servings a day, etc… are members of large scale industry – especially meat and dairy!! What we should be striving for is real, whole food ingredients for our meals, comprised predominantly of vegetables, followed by some kind of protein (less meat) and some whole grains. It isn’t rocket science.

    i adore her exercise regime – it really does seem to be about doing what is right for her and what looks like a bit of play. we’re over exercised in our current culture – if we all just played more and spent more time moving than parked in front of the tv, we’d be fit! And happier!

    i do have a bit of an issue about “being blonde all over” though – i get that too much sun can be unhealthy for you, but such a statement has semi-racist connotations for me.

    1. I see your point about the blonde thing – I guess for someone like me, who is pale and can’t get a tan even if I spent months in the tanning bed, the idea was a little liberating. Most girls that I know are much too focused on outward appearances, and I love the idea that I can simply be natural.

  4. Fascinating! I think we have decided that anyone who does not look like a magazine picture simply isnt trying hard enough. On my latest shopping trip with my very petite step daughter, she was shocked to learn that I am a Large or XLarge and sometimes even those sizes arent big enough! Our family is very centered on whole foods (because they make us feel good) and her father and I are at the gym daily (because we love it). I think she believed that this meant that I would be tiny. I had to explain that we are what we are and all we can do is be as healthy inside (and out) as much as possible. I will never be a size zero, and I will never come even close to weighing 100lbs, Im ok with that.

    1. You’re absolutely right! Unfortunately our culture wants everyone to fit into one mold, when we naturally come in many shapes and sizes. It’s refreshing to put things into perspective once in awhile!

  5. Great article. Just like what it says, eat simple and exercise moderately, rather than starve to get extremely thin and surround myself with those people who overrate body image too much.

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