Sirens Speak

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

Guest Blogger Penny Snark

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.”

It’s never fun to reach for something and have your hand slapped away. Or even worse, to have nothing to reach for in the first place. We all want to see ourselves reflected in the stories society tells. We want to see where we’ve been, what we can become. But sometimes it’s just not there. It can be tough as a plus size woman in the vintage community. The beautiful old photos we all ooh and ahh over very, very rarely include anyone who even comes close to looking like us. Even things that seem promising at first glance, like a roundup of classic starlets who “rocked their curves” or those ubiquitous 1950s ads promising to help skinny girls gain 10 pounds, turn out the same: then, like now, curves are acceptable in, as they say, “all the right places.” And none of the wrong ones.

Even when you look where representation should be, where you’re told that it is for you, not everything is as it appears. I remember the shock and disappointment amongst my friends when it was revealed that it’s not uncommon for plus size brands to use models who are, that’s right, size 12 to showcase clothes that will be marketing to larger women.

But I’m going to let you in on a secret: we don’t need to wait for them to notice us anymore. We don’t need to reach. We don’t need their stories, because we make our own.

I’ve always been a proponent of selfies as a radical act of self love. It was through selfies, both my own and those of other amazing, stylish people, that I learned how to practice self love. Because it is a practice – it’s something you do every day, making the active choice to love yourself. And you can’t love yourself if you don’t know yourself.

For this post, I wanted an outfit that I always feel absolutely beautiful in. The Evelyn dress (print discontinued) from Pinup Girl Clothing makes me feel like a vintage princess – plus, Pinup Girl is a brand that I have to commend for not just making clothes up to a 4X but actually using 4X models during shoots. And I couldn’t think of a more appropriate accessory than my Femme de Bloom Mary Poppins brooch which reads “Practically Perfect in Every Way.”

Marilyn wasn’t a size 12. Neither am I. I’m not Marilyn, and I was never going to be. My curves are my own, and I don’t think a single one of them is in the “wrong” place. The openness and acceptance in the modern pinup community has been such a gift, and I always want to do whatever little part I can to help remind the world that it’s okay to love yourself at any size. It’s time to tell your own story.

Guest Blogger Penny SnarkPenny Snark is a nerdy, plus size pinup girl who has been described by friends as “like a feminist June Cleaver.” She loves crafting, fighting the patriarchy, and tiki drinks. When she’s not posting pictures of herself on Instagram, she writes about all things vintage, pinup, and kitsch on her blog, The Sconnie Sling.

  • BLESS THIS POST, especially the discussion about curves being in the “right” places. I always feel underrepresented when I look at the majority of retro fashion posts, because most models are hourglasses and I am fairly apple shaped. I adore seeing plus size models in the media and representing retro fashion…but my heart gives an extra flutter when they’re size 18 and up.

    Also, I am totally following you on Bloglovin! Feminism AND retro fashion? Sign me up. 🙂

    • Thanks, Karen! I think pretty much all plus size women feel that rush of relief when we finally see someone who looks like us~ rocking our chosen style 🙂