Sirens Speak

The Myth of 12: On Love, Selfies and Marilyn Monroe

I am thrilled to feature the following guest post by pin-up blogger Penny Snark. If you struggle with body confidence (and honestly, who doesn’t?), keep reading… 


I remember when people used to proclaim, “Marilyn Monroe was a size 12!” I remember when the refutation of that fact became more widely spread than the fact itself. While it’s inarguably true that Marilyn wasn’t a “size 12” as we think of it in the modern day, what I remember most is how many of those refutations felt almost gleeful. “You were stupid to try to claim Marilyn,” some of them seemed to say under the surface. “She’s not for you.”

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Of Sirens and Scholars: The Making of a Pin-up Feminist

“You look like a victim.”

I pursed my cherry-painted lips and folded my arms. “What do you mean I look like a victim?”

“I would just suggest dying your hair brown. Wear glasses. Invest in some baggier clothes.”

I instinctually pulled at the hem of my pencil skirt.

“But I have perfect eyesight. And my natural hair color is blonde…well, maybe not this particular shade…”

I thought back to the beginning of the semester and the orientation I attended for doctoral student professors.

A seasoned instructor proffered this gem: “The best piece of advice I can give you women is to dress like a man. Students won’t take you seriously otherwise.”

I remember turning to a female colleague and exchanging an incredulous smirk. Dress like a man? What does that even mean?

Years before, a graduate professor had instructed me to speak in a lower register for similar reasons. Determined to be “taken seriously,” I unintentionally delivered my class presentation in a cartoonishly seductive voice. Needless to say, the professor promptly retracted his advice.

Dress like a man. Talk like a man.