THE MARK OF BEAUTY Whether real or fake, the spot is hot

What is one to make of the return of the beauty mark?

DIt hardly seems in keeping with the '90s, this little dark mark that reached its height of popularity during the grand days of the French courts when it was fashionable for women to be as pale as ghosts. The beauty spot, as it was called then, was applied to emphasize the whiteness of the skin.


When screen goddesses such as Gloria Swanson and Marlene Dietrich emphasized their beauty marks, it was to accentuate their glossy faces for black-and-white films and photography. Beauty marks later were considered sexy -- as evidenced by Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. But by the 1960s and early '70s, beauty marks had fallen from favor.

That was before super model Cindy Crawford became "the face." Ms. Crawford, like Christie Brinkley before her, has attained the vaunted status that makes her the favorite cover girl and fashion spread model of every fashion magazine on earth.


She is also the mannequin that high-fashion designers fight over for their runway presentations.

Ms. Crawford attained this status with a face that featured a large mole, just above the left corner of her mouth.

Now it seems that arbiters of who is hot on Seventh Avenue, with their love of pure beauty, would have never let such a filly break through the modeling ranks, let alone leap to the top of heap.

But Ms. Crawford did. And in the high gloss and glamour industry that never stops churning and reshaping the image of beauty, Ms. Crawford and her mole were it, imperfect or not, the new beauty.

In the spring, Ms. Crawford was on the cover of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. Then she was at the Oscars and in advertisements in every fashion mag this side of the Atlantic.

The beauty mark as a sign of new beauty was aided and abetted by the goddess of our times, Madonna, who is Ms. Crawford's chief competitor for Cover Girl of the Decade. Her Hotness painted her beauty mark on her face, a la Monroe, and her legion of fans, girls and women old enough to know better, followed suit.

How could they resist?

After all, there were a bevy of other pop icons sporting real or fake beauty marks: Janet Jackson (penciled in, it is believed), and Dolly Parton, Lisa Stansfield and Paula Adbul (natural).


Small wonder that women, black and white, tanned and pale, are once again pulling out the eyebrow pencil and carefully placing a tiny black dot on their face.

Now makeup artists and stylists -- that strange class of people who prepare models for photo shoots, commercials and films -- are busy imposing beauty marks on many of their female clients which is why, if you look carefully, you will spot beauty marks on one of the women in the Ray Charles commercial for Diet Pepsi.

Some time in the distant future, women will realize that there is nothing beautiful about a black mark on the face, though, when natural, it can add character to what could otherwise be a merely beautiful face.

The irony is in the fact that marring the face is now considered an act of beauty.