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How You Can Become More Confident Using The Marilyn Monroe Effect

what is the Marilyn Monroe Effect

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer editorial intern Jenna Wirtz. Find her on Instagram at @jenna.wirtz. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

What is the Marilyn Monroe Effect? This has been a topic of conversation over TikTok over the past couple of months and a broader discussion that has been happening in psychology. 

The real question is: how much control does an individual have over how people perceive them?

Marilyn Monroe GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Norma Jeane Mortenson could transform from a mundane, ordinary woman into the iconic celebrity Marilyn Monroe simply by shifting her body language and energy. This effect is best explained by an anecdote from Monroe’s photographer’s wife,

I’ll never forget the day Marilyn and I were walking around New York City, just having a stroll on a nice day. She loved New York because no one bothered her there like they did in Hollywood, she could put on her plain-Jane clothes and no one would notice her. She loved that. So, as we’re walking down Broadway, she turns to me and says, ‘Do you want to see me become her?’ I didn’t know what she meant but I just said ‘Yes’ — and then I saw it. I don’t know how to explain what she did because it was so very subtle, but she turned something on within herself that was almost like magic. And suddenly cars were slowing, and people were turning their heads and stopping to stare. They were recognizing that this was Marilyn Monroe as if she pulled off a mask or something, even though a second ago nobody noticed her. I had never seen anything like it before.”

– Amy Greene, wife of Marilyn’s personal photographer Milton Greene

Marilyn Monroe GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This sudden shift seems to be connected to the way that Monroe carried herself. Of course, some of this ease could be attributed to the fact that Monroe was an actress. She was playing the role of an ordinary woman, and then suddenly she was not. However, according to my research, there are several ways that you can integrate more confidence into your life and shift your energy to channel your inner Marilyn Monroe.

Create an alter ego

This might sound like the opposite of authenticity at first, but hear me out. You can not become the person you want to be by doing things the way you have always done them. You are not going to wake up one day and be different unless you integrate different habits and routines. So, a great way to increase your confidence is to come up with an alter ego that you can embrace in moments when you want to shift your energy.

Monroe was able to code-switch because she had a public persona, than her actual normal self. Monroe actually struggled with a lot of mental health issues, which shows that you do not have to wait until you are perfectly stable and healed to try this out! 

This would look like you going into the grocery store and letting yourself play the part of a version of yourself that is more confident. It might seem weird at first, but people accept people at face value (particularly in surface-level interactions like grocery shopping). Nobody is going to tell you that you have too much confidence or that you look weird — even if you think so!

Body language, body language!

Marilyn Monroe Vintage GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Amidst many studies, most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. 

So, what you say with your body language says a lot! This is the most applicable way to change the way that people perceive you, according to the many TikToks that are trying to answer the question of what the Marilyn Monroe Effect actually is.

Here are a few easy examples of how to shift your body language to be more open: 

  • Shoulders back 
  • Looking up versus down as you walk 
  • Put your phone away and be attentive to your environment and others

Each of these shifts in body language exudes confidence and also serves as a way to keep yourself safe when you are in public because you are showing that you are aware of your surroundings. Another plus!

Start small

Marilyn Monroe Hello GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Norma (Marilyn’s real first name) equipped this effect as she was walking and wanted to shift into Marilyn. This is a great place to start! Going on a walk by yourself and practicing carrying yourself with more confidence, will help you transfer that same feeling into social situations.

As extravagant as Marilyn Monroe was, I want to assure you that she still needed to shift back into Norma. It can take a lot of energy to carry yourself with confidence, particularly at first, however, I am sure that with more practice you will get more and more comfortable with yourself.

So, what is the Marilyn Monroe Effect? It is about shifting your energy and confidence to serve you better. It is a skill and something that anybody can pick up with practice and patience.

Comment below how you are going to practice using the Marilyn Monroe Effect!

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