I was surprised to find out how saddened I was to find out this morning that Anna Nicole Smith had died. The authors of her various obituaries seemed to be ashamed they even knew who she was and struggled to describe her career with various synonyms for “celebutard.” Which left me to wonder if I’m I the only person old enough to remember she became an internationally recognized model and sex symbol as a Guess? Jeans model?
Her fatal flaw was believing the fairy tale that all young girls are fed. You all know the story: it’s “Cinderella,” it’s “The Little Mermaid,” it’s every other article in magazines aimed at teenage girls, and the rags-to-riches autobiography spun out by many a female celebrity. It goes like this: if you’re pretty enough, and nice to everyone, a prince will fall in love with you and turn you into a princess.
No one contested the fact that Anna Nicole Smith (aka Vicky Lynn Marshall) was beautiful. She also seemed to be nice, even if somewhat flaky. I saw one episode of her reality show where her lawyer tried to get her to take sides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she demurred saying she didn’t know enough about the situation. Oh, if only more celebrities were nice enough to shut up about things they don’t understand!
She grew up poor, but found out she could make a living selling her best asset: her beauty. And just like in the fairy tales, her prince came along. Oh, sure, it wasn’t your traditional fairy tale. For one thing, he was 89 and she only 26 when they married. But by all accounts, they fulfilled each others’ dreams. He wanted to be married to a sex symbol, and she wanted to live like a princess. A smarter, and more cynical, wife might have taken his age into account and started siphoning his assets into offshore accounts in only her own name, but Anna Nicole believed, like in the fairy tales, that she’d live happily ever after.
As we all know, that didn’t happen. As soon as he died, the rich man’s children fought to grab not just their own share, but everything, from the peasant wench who’d dared to think she had any right to it. As she found out, her husband may have loved her, but no one else did. The rest of her life became a court battle and her lawyer became her only confidante and sometime lover. And she couldn’t go back to her old life, with the prospect of forever being pitied as the girl who was once beautiful and famous.
She gained weight and worked as a plus-size supermodel. She lost the weight and became a spokesmodel for a diet drug company. Those around her turned her into a freak show. She tried to escape the nightmare her life had become with drugs, and people made fun of her for that, too. She had a baby girl, and her beloved son, probably the only person sorry to see his mother’s decline, died at his mother’s bedside. Even though she clearly meant the girl to be hers and hers alone, three men came out of the woodwork insisting they were the father.
And now, without even having the chance to watch her girl grow up, Anna Nicole Smith is dead. I just hope the little girl doesn’t end up following in her mother’s footsteps. For her own sake, I hope she grows up plain-faced and without any chance of living a fairy-tale life.