WORDS: JESSICA VANDER LEAHY
According to Instagram, Marilyn Monroe was a real yapper.
You can barely do a five-minute flick through your feed without someone offering up an inspiring quote written in bespoke cursive and attributing it to Ms Monroe. Yup, according to everyone on the Internet, before she died at the age of 36 Maz offered up enough advice to help every woman through heartache, career woes, weight, looks, sexuality and much much more for the rest of eternity. Did she really say it all? Probably not, but who cares if it adds to the legend of Marilyn.
One of my favourite anecdotes she offered, and she really did say this because they got it on video, was when she was asked about what she wore to bed. "Chanel no. 5," said Monroe in her honey, cotton-candy, velvet voice.
I remember when I first heard it I just loved it. I thought it was so sexy I tried to incorporate it into my own bedtime ritual. For a little while I wore my Chanel - Chanel Chance, of course - to bed sans jim-jams and all nekkid. But this didn't last long.
Firstly, and not wanting to brag, but my boobs are too big to sleep unsupported. Since puberty came into full effect back in the mid- noughties I have slept with the aid of some very unattractive wireless crop tops and bras to stop my ample chesticles slip sliding North-South-East-and-West of their once former perky post.
Another reason my 'perfume only' rule was disrupted was because I have to pee A LOT at night and sleepwalking to the loo is hard enough without having to go and find a robe to cover my derrière - so as to not give my housemates a rude shock should we cross paths in the hallway. So I couldn't pull it off. But I took away a little piece of what Marilyn was saying and implemented it for myself.
To me her little bit of advice was that a woman's sensuality is important at all times and it doesn't matter who is in your bed or what you are wearing it's important to do little things that make you feel good, to make you feel sexy and confident. Mazza was basically like, 'Treat yo 'self girl' because that little bit of self-love could help a lot. So, now I wear cuter wireless bras and pants to bed. Not for anyone else, just because I like it and feel good doing it.
My point is, when Marilyn said that it was a throw away line but to me, seeing who she was and how I felt about her, it affected me and changed me. It might seem silly but if you think about it, this happens all the time. People say one tiny thing, something they might not even remember saying or feeling like it would have any impact and it effects somebody forever.
Usually it is the negative things that affect us the most. As women especially we can be quick to forget compliments but be experts in collecting criticisms and holding them close to us and letting them dictate how we function - altering our behavior in ways we never expected.
But occasionally another woman can offer advice to a sister, a child, a friend, a patient, and it can be so subtle but core shaking. A handful of words that never leave you and alter you forever, for the better.
We asked women what advice they had been given by another woman that has shaped them to this day. Here are their wide-ranging responses...
Daisy, Byron Bay: "My mum once told me never to expect anything from anyone, that way you'll never be disappointed. Wise words I thought."
Beau, Sydney: "The best thing my mum ever said to me was, 'Mourn by being happy not sad and live everyday like it is your last because that's how our lost loved ones would want to see us.' This helped me through the death of my brother and then of my mum, it helped me then and still today to be strong and smile everyday even if I don't think I can for me I do for them."
Hazel, Sydney: "A woman once told me; 'There is no one right partner for the one person. Every relationship is hard work, and it's your commitment to making it work that is the true test of love.'"
Natalie, Sydney: "I always say, 'I grew up with a mother who mowed the lawn!' - she always taught me that as a woman, I can do, have & be everything I set my sights on."
Katherine, Sydney: "My friend's mum once told us 'Girls what's for you won't go past you' - I always think of that when waiting on an answer or decision."
Fliss, Sydney: "My psychologist responded to me asking how can I be a better mum with 'The best way to love your daughter is to love yourself'. This wisdom is changing my whole life!"
Louise, Sydney: "My mother told me, 'Nothing in writing'. She meant if you have some grievance or something with someone, don't write it down in a note, card, email or letter - it will come back and haunt you down the track so, I never have."
Jo, New York: "When I was in my 20s I was at college and a little lost. A girlfriend said, 'You need to figure out what you are good at and go find a job doing that because that is why you are here on Earth.' I was studying business and no good at math so I was like, 'This is not the purpose of my existence.' I dropped out of college and a little while later started a dress shop. I'm in my 50s and have lived a happy life and don't think I would have had I not had that fire lit under my ass 30 years ago."
Neem, New Delhi: "My grandmother couldn't really speak any English and no one - even the people in our family - could really speak the native language she had grown up with. I once asked her why she never seemed frustrated by no one listening to her. She basically said, 'Never being understood forces you to always try to understand.' I think of that when I get angry about people not seeing my point of view - it makes me try to see it from their side, it makes me learn things I would have missed. It makes me more compassionate."
Alexandra, Sydney: "It was 2001 and I was 13 and after plucking my eyebrows way too thin my mum said, 'I'll give you $100 to grow your eyebrows back and never touch them again!' Now it's 2015 and everyone wants thick eyebrows. Eyebrow tattooing now exists!"
Barbra, New Jersey: "My old, wise aunty said to me, 'Marry the person who will make you laugh, even when you are in a bad mood'. It honestly became the benchmark of what I looked for. My husband makes me giggle everyday and we are still so in love 26 years later."
Sidney, London: "I was depressed a few years ago. I spent so much time in a doctor's office, thousands of pounds on psychiatrists trying to figure out how to make me happy again. Then I got talking to a woman on a plane to Spain - told her everything. She said, 'If you can't find happiness inside, have you tried looking outside?' She told me to make other people smile, so I did. I gave up time to volunteer and do a music charity thing for kids. It brought them so much joy and soon I was filled with it. It made me realise I was sad because I was only living for myself - and there's no fun in that."
Tanya, Toronto: "I told a friend once said to me, 'Sex is a team sport - women need to remember that.' I don't know why but I liked that. It empowered me to feel equal in the bedroom."
Has a woman ever given you advice to live by? Tell us, we'd love to know.
Have you watched our #BodyLove series on YOUTUBE yet? Check it out below.