Marilyn, Jackie…and Gloria

I had a very good friend in college who had a fantastic sense of style and fashion. She wrote a blog that became quite popular and then she moved to Ireland, a few years after college, to marry her (native) Irish husband. Anyway, she influenced me a lot, and one way she did that was when she told me about Mad Men and advised me to watch it. That was back in 2008 or 2009? And out of curiosity and respect for her opinion I did. …I became enthralled.

In one episode a copywriter decides that all women are essentially “a Marilyn” meaning Marilyn Monroe or “a Jackie” meaning Jackie Kennedy. It’s a very interesting episode but of course we were supposed to watch it knowing, as viewers in the 2000’s, that women can’t be that easily categorized. Still, the concept did and does offer a certain insight into who people are and the characters in the show have fun labeling the women in the office accordingly. I suppose it’s sort of like how people nowadays might try to decide which character from Friends, Sex And The City, or Game of Thrones they are. Which house in Harry Potter they belong to?

So, among the virtually endless other types of women there are in the world, and riffing on the theme Mad Men created in that episode, I’d like to submit and discuss the (also too limited but maybe slightly more elucidating) following: Jackie, Marilyn, Gloria, Grace and Rose. That’s Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Grace Kelly, and Rose Kennedy.

To start: I’m a 100% Rose/Gloria. …I also sometimes question my perfume signatures of vintage Chanel No. 22 and Houbigant Orangers En Fleurs (as shocking as that might be to read) because while they’re the closest to an olfactory representation of my soul as I’ve ever found they aren’t perfect. BUT, even with all the perfumes we have to choose from people are so unique that that is likely just a given to some degree. Anyway…

I have however met lots of women who are “Graces” and “Marilyns” but don’t seem to realize it. And I’ve met lots of “Jackies” who would also never see themselves that way. To be blunt I think a lot of these women don’t genuinely value themselves enough to see their own gifts and beauty and/or just don’t like who they are.

I’ve also had plenty of people try to either be insulting or complimentary by comparing me to Jackie, Grace or Marilyn. Humorously and somewhat painfully, it’s often been unclear which one it even was.

The thing is, regardless, who we are is who we are and it’s always best to be that and not try to be someone else. We lose our own unique beauty and charm if we wear a mask over our soul to imitate people we admire who are different than us.

“She wasn’t very sophisticated, was she?” said a lady once during a conversation we were having about Marilyn Monroe. Ironically though I think this lady actually was “a Marilyn” (with maybe a bit of a Jackie side to her too). However, I did mostly agree with her about her take on Ms. Monroe.

“She was brilliant!” said another lady about Marilyn who was mostly “a Gloria” (also maybe a bit of “a Grace”). And I agreed with that sentiment too.

But, truly, both perspectives on her are accurate to some degree because people are complex. She was a host of contradictions. To some degree we all are.

And, with that example to light the way let me be clear before I say more: None of the the types I’ll discuss has a monopoly on intelligence, autonomy, beauty, sophistication, sex-appeal, wit, ambition, or goodness. No. They’re all special.

Let’s start:

“A Marilyn” is an intriguing type of lady.

Honestly, if reincarnation is real and if I can recall my last life, I’m pretty sure I met Marilyn Monroe, probably in the late 50’s. It was only briefly. And…she did not seem to like me. *laughing*

Despite her popular image she was very smart and aware and she was not just this constantly sweet and adorable little martyr. Indeed, I’m sure she could be kind and exceedingly polite to particular people, but she wasn’t like that always. …She didn’t just giggle happily and wear red lipstick all the time. Her best biographies describe her edgy depth well…

And again, I actually get the sense that she was quite cold to me (if we ever met in a previous life). I have an image in my head of her looking at me with an ice cold, somewhat snobby (I wasn’t on her level or near her level of stardom or cultural importance and she looked down on me, I think), distrustful and almost hurt look. I don’t think she thought she should have had to even acknowledge me much less be charitable or genuinely friendly.

Suffice it to say, while objectively I actually adore these type of women on a personal level we don’t mix well. Therefore, it’ll be hard for me to totally describe them with a fair amount of accuracy because of that clash, but I’ll try.

(To continue) …On the dark-side, from my experience, “Marilyns” often are at least a little insecure, or at least more so than the other types. They sometimes try quite hard to imitate people from the past or present they admire (Marilyn actually did this with Jean Harlow) and/or better themselves in some way out of their insecurity, ambition and a drive to fully understand things (Marilyn did that too). And sadly, as much as people often love “Marilyns” for their glamor and zest people don’t take them seriously enough. This type is perhaps the most clearly affected by misogyny.

On a more optimistic note, “Marilyns” are often incredibly shrewd.  They really do try to understand the world around them and while they might not be intellectual or sophisticated in a traditional sense (sometimes by conscious decision on their part), they do tend to possess a deep awareness of the world around them, especially in regard to the people they meet and know.

That being said, “Marilyns” might not generally have objective reactions to others as they are often highly emotionally driven with a keen sensitivity to everything, but truly, on a certain gut level they “get” other people.  Again, they don’t always use this awareness for good in their own mind or in how they respond to people and the truth can be obscured about others, themselves and situations if their feelings pull them in that direction, but they do usually have a sharp sense of things.  

Are “Marilyns” the most sexy though?  Yes and no.  They might be the most emotive and engaging about their sexuality.  And, that can take different forms.  For instance, I think Audrey Hepburn was a mix between “a Marilyn” and a “a Jackie”.  Even though people frequently mistype buxom and/or blond women automatically as “a Marilyn” that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re this type or vice versa.  Many “Marilyns” are less voluptuous and/or dark.  Being “a Marilyn” is more about a certain vulnerability, openness (intentionally or otherwise), emotionality, and absolute rawness mixed with a sensitive sort of femininity.  These ladies are the delicate and lovely flowers in the garden that attract a lot of attention and give off a lovely but strong scent among the blooms of summer.  They’re the violin section in the orchestra.  The soprano.  Really, unless they’re being careful to pay their dues as they “work their way up the ladder” they’re the star of the show. They’re the leader of their life although they can be incredibly unsure of themselves at times.

“A Jackie” is rarer than it might seem.

“Jackies” are quite professional. They’re supremely and genuinely confident even if they have deep (but stealthily and expertly hidden) insecurities. And they are often capable of doing an almost perfect job no matter what they set their mind on.

When “Jackies” put together an outfit or compose a letter it’s always immaculate, or as immaculate as is humanly possible in that moment. Sometimes this perfectionism can read as cold. Sometimes they may even be cold so as to restore and rekindle their inner reserves. But often they are actually very loving in their souls underneath whatever exterior of reserve or strength is observable. They can be mean at their worst, but I believe this is one of the truly kindest types, even if it can be an aloof one by nature.

“A Jackie” is elegance personified. Some try to replicate the pristine but never superficial beauty and charm of “A Jackie” but it’s impossible to be “A Jackie” unless you are one.

That being said, despite the innate elegance of a Jackie, not all of them are wealthy. No, indeed, their sublime graciousness is something that exists outside of any one social class (none of these types are bound by class though, to be clear), although many “Jackies” are cherished by those with means as they almost always create a polished glamor with just their presence.

“A Grace” is also an elegant and chilly type of lady on occasion, but the chill is more of a subterfuge in this case. And her elegance is less all encompassing and more organic… “A Grace” is warm, at heart, but guarded.

She’s also quite ambitious. “Graces” can be temperamental or struggle in some way but they have a great deal of determination. The thing is though, where Jackie uses her ambition (and sophistication) to her more obvious advantage with a quick “gloss and shine” of sorts, and Marilyn openly feminizes her ambition and makes it dramatic and glamorous…Grace hides her ambition under a demure surface. Her passion is on a subversive level (much like Princess Grace supposedly was).

I think Zelda Fitzgerald was mostly “a Grace” and a little bit of “a Gloria” too… More on that last type in a minute, but first “Roses”…

“A Rose” is…incredibly tough. You can kick “a Rose” around for decades and barely detect a blemish or flaw afterward. Rose smiles and is open and friendly…to a point. And Rose’s often altruistic and yet self-affirming strength, no matter what may befall her, is both her blessing and her curse.

It’s very hard to “get to know” a Rose unless she lets you. And if you do know her you find a lot of depth. Perhaps even a challenging or at times overwhelming degree of intensity and depth. The thing is unlike Grace she’s not concealing anything intentionally (at least to the same degree), she just…is too feisty, busy and yet outwardly calm to bother exposing that part of herself. She also might know it’s unsafe (due to intensity) and in that way, paradoxically it’s sometimes intentional.

Again, “A Rose” is not easy to know or discern (even if you believe otherwise). Other than Rose Kennedy herself, Margaret Thatcher, Katherine Hepburn, and Doris Day (the real lady and not her persona) are examples of this type of lady, I think.

“A Rose” is often very genuinely kind or nice (particularly at first) but she can be harsh too, especially if you push her too far. And if you do push her too far you’ll likely find the truth that you were trying to avoid right in your face, right under your nose…until you acknowledge it or deal with it in a positive way. And, “Roses” seem to not often know their own strength as that strength (or the effect it can have on others) is often overlooked or misunderstood due to their reserve (and due to misogyny of course). Many “Roses” are fairly elegant too, but in a pure, somewhat subtle and yet surprisingly earthy way.

“A Gloria” is…a little wacky. *laughing* This type is often mistaken for “A Marilyn” but one difference is that where “Marilyns” who are unhealthy can have a tendency towards narcissism at times, “Glorias” who are unhealthy are more blindly self-destructive (of course all types can be narcissistic though).

They easily arouse emotions in others too though… And that’s maybe partly because, in their case, they are overwhelmingly passionate and openly so for the sake of life itself but they aren’t perhaps as “planted in the soil beneath their feet” (and maybe vulnerable) and domestic (that can manifest in different ways) as “a Marilyn”. To note: “Marilyns” can be wacky and eccentric too, but it’s often more whimsical and dreamy and less…confusing and/or confrontational. …Little Edie Beale, for example, was almost entirely “A Marilyn” in my opinion but with a dash of “Gloria”.

“Glorias” embrace things with unbridled vigor, including ideas and emotions. They’ll go hunting with “the boys” instead of intentionally (and sometimes more shrewdly) waiting at home in a pretty dress with cookies to sweep him off his feet like “a Marilyn” would. *laughing* You might not always be able to take “A Gloria” home to your mom, but it’s not because she’s necessarily obviously scandalous but more that she’s covered in mud and might beg too many questions.

My husband smelled a very vintage bottle of Caron Narcisse Noir parfum the other day and told me he loved it. And, similarly some types of men do find “Glorias” inherently mesmerizing just like the Narcisse Noir Gloria Swanson supposedly used to wear.

However, while “Glorias” are not innately confident in the same way “Jackies” are, what they do possess is the agility and certainty of a skilled equestrian, which Jackie was ironically, and that can read as confidence to some people. They don’t let much get in their way. They won’t run you over, but they might knock you over, jump on you to get past you and then run away.

Which one(s) are you?

(Images via Google Images)

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