I think perhaps in another lifetime I was from the glamorous Big Band era, or that's a lie a like to tell myself anyway. It started with my friends who often joked with me in high school that I had an Old Hollywood style. By no means a modern beauty, and being impressionable and young, I looked for belonging and validation in the words which seemed to describe my more classic features. I was born with one of those doe-eyed faces like the incomparable Audrey Hepburn, I tweezed and plucked arches to emulate the beautiful curve of Marylin Monroe's eyebrows. I enviously looked for opportunities to wear the belted dresses that graced the big screen and those gorgeous glamorous actresses. I often begrudgingly waiting for Halloween or a photoshoot with my friends to adorn a deep red lip, thick black eyeliner, and flowing gowns. It seemed like an effortless fashion; the curl of ruby lips balancing a long cigarette stem in a manner that was so supremely feminine and, sadly, entirely forgotten by the time I was born in the 1990's. Still, there was only one indelible part of this fashion was unfathomably cool to me because it was, by all accounts, truly bizarre. For its perplexities and for many more reasons, I believe there is a strong case for the return of the iconic, inimitable beauty mark.
The question I always had was why. Why was a dot when placed off-center above a lip so unquestionably appealing? The beauty mark was something like a supremely incomprehensible Westernized interpretation of the bindi, except with no cultural significance (or, at least, none of which I have been made aware). Yet, beautiful and famous women would draw a small circle above their lip to enhance, not detract, their sex appeal. And, in truth, I wanted one desperately.
I will argue that the reason I clung so tightly to this trend was, I believe, because it symbolized something important to me about beauty, something that I still have a hard time accepting. It symbolized that imperfections were attractive; it let me see that people could fall in love with a flaw.
There's an odd sort of similarity in intention when one looks at the trends of the late 1960's to early 70's. The natural movement with women presenting make-up and product-free glowed with liberation and empowerment. While the era, in my mind, focused on the truly ugly (putrid greens, mustard yellow, and toilet-bowl browns), which gave merit to the movement away from the socialization of the generally pleasing color palettes to the acceptance of the truly hideous, the sentiment did not go as far in its glorification of the obscure. Not like the beauty mark, which was supremely head-scratching and undeniably impactful. In fact, the era did not seem to translate to the "it" girls of the time period at all. Certainly Twiggy never looked anything less than flawless in her spreads, showcasing perfectly-executed make up and a cute funkified go-go look. For me, the trends felt hollow, only reaching out for difference, not antithesis.
That was the beauty of the beauty mark: it overturned the notion that beauty is symmetry and perfection. It showed a young, impressionable me that people actually seek out the unique, the uncommon, the human parts of others. The world allowed a black speckle on skin to symbolize "beauty." Today, we celebrate no such differences. With fillers and filters and airbrushes, our society changes the constructs of beauty hastily, competitively, and seemingly in desperate ploys for perfection. Perhaps it is time to resurface the wonderment in the irregular. Perhaps a little dot above the lip is all the world needs to remember that beauty isn't now nor has it ever been flawless. That beauty will always and forever be the marks on us: visible and invisible, dark and loud and wild.