A rare photo of Marilyn Monroe without makeup was posted to Reddit this weekend! I don’t know where the photo originally came from, but it’s a gorgeous image of one of the most famous women who ever lived.

While I have mixed feelings about the whole “OMG a celebrity without makeup is newsworthy!” thing that apparently applies to dead celebrities just as much as living ones (See yesterday’s Us story about Jessica Simpson, for example) I have to say I love this picture (which has not been dated) so so much. It’s so full of life and joie de vivre! How amazingly cute and charming is this photograph? How adorable (and yes, beautiful!) does Marilyn look, drippy chin, spiky eyebrows and all?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Marilyn. Not necessarily because of her va-va-voomy image, but because of what I know about her personally. (Side note: If you can read an account of her love story with Joe DiMaggio and not be incredibly moved, you’re basically Voldemort, just sayin’.) But seeing Marilyn the way she is in this photo is markedly different than the sexualized images of her that are present in our cultural imagination, like the billow-y white dress flying up on the streets of New York in The Seven Year Itch or the sexy “Last Sitting” photographs.

We, the public, constantly see Marilyn as the very height of sexiness, but yet that view is always tempered with our knowledge that her story doesn’t have a happy ending. She is always beautiful, but always tragic. In this photo, we just see her. No suicide or overdose, no costumes, no jewels, no lipstick, no furs, no notorious husband on her arm, no trappings of fame: Just a woman, laughing, by a swimming pool. We see her joy and exuberance, her sense of fun. It’s refreshing and it’s gorgeous and it’s Marilyn Monroe like we so rarely get to see her, this woman who looms so large in celebrity culture. Here she is unadorned, on her own.

[h/t: Huffington Post Canada]

Photo: Reddit user _Helena