The origin of faux-beauty marks lies in the Renaissance, where pale white ladies covered any sort of blemish with a little dark dot. Before this, any blemish on the face was considered the sign of possession by the devil. Women would have to find ways to cover the marks they were born with. However, once the wealthy women in the Renaissance started a trend, the world would follow suit.
By the 18th century, the beauty mark was a staple to the court of King Louis the XIV. Women and men would cover any blemish with dark makeup to both cover and add more character to their faces. As the trend continued, more elaborate felted marks, sometimes shaped like hearts, stars, or even carriages, became in vogue as a way for the aristocrats to cover blemishes on the face, especially syphilis spots (syphilis was quite common during this time).
After the French Revolution, most fashion trends were seen as excessive and undesirable. Fashion completely changed by the arrival of the 19th century. Gowns were crisp white muslin with simple Empire waist lines, while faces were expected to be clear and deathly pale. After the Reign of Terror, the death look became very popular. Women would even go so far as to drop mercury in their eyes to get dilated pupils. Because of the shifting trends, the beauty mark was out, and wouldn’t be seen again for years to come.
A minor resurgence in the trend happened during the Edwardian era. Fashion had yet again become as ostentatious and loud as it was during the time of Marie Antoinette. Big hairstyles and even bigger “picture” hats drew the attention to the face. Of course, no woman wanted a blemish on her face, so they looked to the past to find a way to disguise the unwanted guest. These women must have found the patches common in the court of Versailles appealing.
Again, the simple circle wasn’t enough for these modern matrons. Designs of all kinds were seen on the faces of the fashion elite. Like the French satirists before them, modern comics were quick to make fun of the exaggerated shapes of the beauty patches. Similar to the Reign of Terror, the stock market crash halted the trend from continuing, although it seems like the beauty mark had become less and less popular throughout the 1920s.
Marilyn Monroe has made sure the beauty mark would not go away, thanks to the many copycats who want to obtain the starlets “look”. It is not known weather it was a real mark, darkened to enhance and make her face more recognizable, or just drawn on. Still, people associate the above-the- lip mark with Marilyn so much, a piercing above the lip is known as the “Monroe”.
Marilyn, of course, had plenty of copycats in her day and even after her death. Whenever Madonna really wanted to play the blonde bombshell in the press or in her videos, she would draw on the beauty mark. Super Model Cindy Crawford’s beauty mark was real, and just a little south of where Marilyn’s was. Instead of being ashamed, Cindy embraced the mark and it became her most defining feature.
Today, people everywhere use the beauty mark to cover up blemishes, sure, but really, to pay homage to the stars they look up to, whether Marilyn, Madonna, or Marie Antoinette. The beauty mark has really found its place in pop culture and will remain a favorite makeup trick/trend for years to come.
Beauty Mark Style Icon: Marilyn Monroe