Marilyn Monroe: How I Stay In Shape, Pageant Magazine, 1952


You're in for a treat! I own a copy of the September 1952 Pageant Magazine with the pictorial spread on Marilyn Monroe's article "How I Stay in Shape." It has been circulated on the web before but the site that hosted the original scans appears to have gone offline. Since then numerous blogs and articles have lifted those scans (you can tell because they all have the same dog ear creases and markings.) I have scanned the article in much larger file sizes


Pageant Magazine was a bawdy read at the time and primarily designed for men. It was also very cheeky with "articles" like this one about those kooky women drivers. And now, here is the entire Marilyn Monroe "How I Stay in Shape" article!







Comments

  1. Love how her body looks normal. I l always felt fat and short when I looked at Vogue and Glamour magazines that my mom and Aunt had lying around the house when I was growing up. If only I had been born a generation earlier I would have had a more realistic image of what a fit woman's body looks like. I was actually surprised to see that I pretty much have that size and shape, too. Boy, feeling pretty good now ; D. Also was surprised to see dumbells being used. Always thought of those as a post-80's thing. Finally, her diet sounds like paleo or Atkins. Maybe the lack of carbs contributed to her mental health issues over time. Who knows. At least she ate that ice cream! Thanks for sharing. It was so interesting, and the funny ad for the women driver was hilarious. Glad to see you are still posting here. I love checking in occasionally and see what fun new fact I will learn.

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    1. Hi, and thanks! You are right regarding dumbbells not really coming into vogue for women until the 1980s (legwarmers, leotards, headbands, hair gel, ack!). This was very much a staged photo shoot for a "cheesecake" magazine so they were likely just props to add effect. In fact it was probably shocking at the time. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!

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    2. Oops, Marion corrected me below re Marilyn lifting, but it's still true that dumbbells weren't the norm for ladies in the 50s, nor were "gyms."

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    3. I completely agree with you. She looks great and very firm/toned, but she looks normal and her physique is (more or less) attainable with a sensible diet. I used to feel miserable growing up looking at current-day fashion magazines as well. But I have also always loved looking at vintage photos of people, reading vintage books to find out about their perception of beauty and their attitude to eating, dieting, exercise.

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  2. Hi Averyl, Marilyn Monroe actually did yoga, a bit of light weight lifting, and she jogged. Her eating and her exercise were quite modern, health-wise. She really was quite beautiful. I saw some photos of her I'd never seen before, and she'd stand up to any current model for beauty. I love that she had a size 6ish (today's sizes) figure. It was a size to aspire to, that was actually possible for most teen girls back then, if they ate lean foods, as she suggests.

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    1. Hi, Marion! I have seen photos of her lifting but I always figured they were for photo shoots and not an actual documentation of her fitness routine since as I mentioned above, ladies lifting wasn't the norm (not even for the ladies of Hollywood). Then again Norma Jean wasn't the "norm" for her time which is why she was a successful screen siren. However there are countless books written about her, none of which I've read. I'm sure her actual routines are well documented.

      Have you read any of her biographies?

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    2. Averyl, I've read lots of things on her years ago including biographies and she did use light weights. But you're right, it wasn't the norm for her time. She was also a runner. I'm not sure how common that was back then, though.

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  3. Interesting post, Averyl! I remember raw eggs being a big deal in the 70's too. I can only imagine the hoopla if a diet "guru" were to suggest it today.

    Great pics! Marilyn was so beautiful. It's sad her life was so short.

    Sarah H.

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    1. Sarah, raw eggs always remind me of Rocky and the 70s, too. : ) And yes it is tragic. I didn't know until recently that some consider her death suspicious and possibly a murder! In any event, very sad and tragic.

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  4. I liked Marilyn from what I know from her movies and such. It's always bothered me that now she is used as an example of a larger woman in certain circles. She was never a size 12!!

    I wish she could have been able to deal with the demons in her mind as well as she dealt with her physical needs.

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    1. It's really meaningless when people refer to her as "plus sized" because she DID likely wear a size 12, but that is today's size "zero" when I compared measurements in a 1950s Sears catalog to today's!

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  5. PS What's this Sex: The American Way Is Best??

    That's where we went astray in the fifties, lol!

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    1. ha! For you I read the article and grabbed these two snippets that sum it up:

      "The superiority of European lovers is purely mythical."

      "When some of the empty noise is eliminated from the discussion of sex and the facts examined, it will be clear that almost any man can become a 'great lover' if he knows what he is about."

      Today that would read "...can become a great lover is he takes XYZ! Ask your doctor TODAY!"

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  6. I love the Marilyn pictures!! She was such a beautiful, womanly, woman!

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  7. In general the pictures of women's figures back then looked so much nicer. Today, I feel like women (and men, but I do notice it more with women to be very honest) of all ages are mostly overweight and out of shape or on the other end of the spectrum obsessed with "clean eating" and going to the gym and as a result quite muscular (by my standards!). No one seems to be content to eat healthily, exercise moderately and embrace their natural figure.

    I also find it quite difficult to find clothes that flatter a normal, female figure. It's a rare occasion when I find a pair of pants where the same size fits my waist and my hips/legs. If it fits below my waist, there's a huge gap at the waist. I wouldn't consider myself extremely curvy or hourglass and I'm a (today's) size 4-6, but it seems as though mannequins are made very angular / disproportionately.

    Eleanor

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