In May 2021, tens of thousands of Facebook users shared the below-displayed post about Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley in an attempt to empower women who feel insecure about their bodies. The post alleged:
Bob Marley was once asked if the perfect woman existed. And he replied:
Who cares about perfection?
Even the moon is not perfect, it is full of craters…
And the sea? it’s too salty and dark in the depths.
The sky? Always so infinite, that is, the most beautiful things are not perfect, they are special.
Stop wanting to be “perfect”, try to be free, happy and live doing what you love, not wanting to please others.
We found other posts with the same quote. Some also cited Marley, though without any evidence to substantiate whether he actually made the comment, and others circulated the quote without attribution. None of the posts stemmed from reputable media sources, such as published biographies or scholarly articles.
Next, we attempted to prove or disprove whether anyone had indeed asked Marley “if the perfect woman existed” before his death in 1981, as well as proof to determine if the post accurately repeated his response to the question.
Firstly, we searched a database of archives from major news outlets globally for all instances in which journalists used the phrases “Bob Marley” and “perfect woman” in a single issue between 1945 and 1981 (the duration of Marley’s life).
The search uncovered two results from 1979 in which reporters working for The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) and The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California) used the terms in two separate articles on the same newspaper pages. Below, for example, is The Sacramento Bee:
In other words, no journalist for a major news outlet asked Marley the alleged question about a “perfect woman” — nor did the famous singer supposedly respond to the inquiry like the Facebook post claimed — according to archives available to Snopes.
It was possible, however, someone doing less-formal journalism documented the moment with Marley, and that the database did not include that evidence because of the nature of the reporting.
Next, we used an online portal of song lyrics by Marley and his former band, Bob Marley & The Waliers, to see whether the artist mentioned “perfection” in one or more popular tracks. Based on our review of that evidence, totaling dozens of songs, no lyric included the term, thus discrediting the possibility that Marley wrote the alleged comment about women (or a version of it) into one of his records.
Again, it was possible a lesser-known song, or one that did not make it to mainstream production, by Marley included the alleged sentiment about women.
Next, we considered other research into the same question.
According to Google Trends, which tracks how many users have conducted searches using specific keyword phrases, relatively no one used the search engine to see whether Marley had made the comment regarding “perfection” or “the perfect woman” in recent years. That finding indicated that academics, archivists, and musicologists were generally not interested in the alleged quote while piecing together biographies about Marley.
Lastly, we reached out to the publishing company W.W. Norton & Company, which circulated “Bob Marley Spirt Dancer,” to try to contact that book’s co-author, Roger Steffens.
Steffens is a reggae historian and “Bob Marley expert” (according to The Los Angeles Times) who’s interviewed the musician’s inner circle for research projects. Norton & Company has not returned our message, but we will update this report if that changes, and whether Steffens provides us with any evidence to help investigate this claim.
In sum, while no verified evidence confirmed the authenticity of the above-displayed Facebook post regarding Marley, as of this writing, it was possible he made the alleged comment at some point during his life. For that reason, we rate this claim “Unproven.”
Author: Jessica Lee
This post originally appeared on Snopes.com