Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What do Marie Antoinette, Marilyn Monroe and Me have in common?

Very little probably - I am not a French queen or a famous sex symbol – (or ever likely to be!) but there is one thing that we all have in common.

During the late 18th century, it was considered the height of fashion in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to apply small “patches” of black velvet or silk to the face.  These fake beauty spots were known as “mouches” [French for fly] and would typically be cut into the shape of circles, hearts, moons or stars.

Patches were worn by both men and woman and were so popular that people carried them around in pretty little patch boxes that were commonly exchanged as gifts.

So how did the equivalent of a large black spot on the face ever become so darn attractive?

It started in the 1600’s when patches were first worn to cover small pox scars.  But by 1653, John Bulwer wrote "our ladies have lately entertained a vain custom of spotting their faces, out of an affectation of a mole, to set off their beauty.”

By Marie Antoinette’s time, patches were no longer considered as the baroque alternative to Clearasil.  The French court had come to realize that an imperfection, such as a beauty mark, can actually enhance a person’s natural beauty. 

Or as Conrad Hall so succinctly put it “There is a kind of beauty in imperfection”.

By the mid 1800’s patches had fallen out of fashion. But when Marilyn Monroe appeared on the scene in the late 1940’s, her signature spot above the lip launched beauty marks into vogue again.

In reality, Norma Jean Baker’s famous beauty mark was a skin coloured mole which was initially covered up or erased from early photographs.

But Norma Jean was a smart cookie.  She recognized that this particular imperfection actually enhanced her natural beauty and highlighted her famous pout. By the time she had transformed into the blonde bombshell we know as Marilyn, her beauty spot was artificially darkened with makeup.

Even today, the popular trend of having a small stud piercing above the upper lip is known as a “Monroe Piercing”.

So what does this have to do with me? 

Well, I won’t be gluing black patches to my face any time soon or painting my moles with liquid eyeliner or getting any facial studs, but lately I have come to realize – as did my soul sisters Marie and Marilyn – that there is a kind of beauty in imperfection.

There is a lot of pressure in today’s society to be “perfect”.  Perfect looking, perfect weight, perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect job, the list goes on. 

The message is blasted at us from every magazine, every TV commercial promoting the latest wrinkle cream and every Kentucky Fried Chicken ad with it’s perfect mum and dad and their perfect children smiling over their perfectly positioned fries.  Ugggh.

But as I approach the big milestone of 40, I realize I am not perfect and I never will be.  And you know what, I’m comfortable with that. 

I might yell at my kids a little too often to be a perfect mother or avoid the housework too often to be a perfect wife and I definitely eat way too many muffins to ever be the perfect size, but that’s okay.

I forgive myself for my imperfections and more than that, I cherish them, because I recognize it’s those things that help to make up the beautiful person I am.

So let’s stop beating ourselves up over our imperfections.  Let’s stop feeling bad about our past mistakes.  Let’s admit we don’t have to be super woman or even super mum.

Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, love yourself and recognize the beauty of your imperfection.

Do you feel under pressure to be 'perfect' all the time?  Do you have imperfections that you have come to love?  Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. So excited to see you blogging!! Yays!

    I'me a terrible perfectionist, and it causes needless stress far too often. I feel like I need to present myself a certain way... be seen to have it all together... when of course I don't always and when I do it's because I'm so OCD with systems and organisation LOL.

  2. Great post! I have a small mole on my chin that I often forget is even there, until people remind me of it - small children especially have no qualms in asking "what's that?" But I worry about the other "imperfections" - the ones that I probably notice more than others. Thanks for reminding me to be kind to myself.

  3. I feel the pressure certainly, but have cone to realize that perfect isn't my reality and that a lot of my yelling at kids and husband stems from this want of mine to be perfect. I've just been trying to take a massive chill pill these past six months and slowly but surely, the house is getting more organized and the washing gets done when I'm not too worried about any of it and just plod along!
    Kate from Kate Says Stuff sent me, love your header!

  4. @Kate I used to want to be a perfectionist, but then I realised I'm really rather bad at it :) I try to keep organised and follow routines but if I fall off the bandwagon every now and again I don't beat myself up about it - I just get back on the horse when I'm ready.

  5. @CraftyMummy The funny thing about our imperfections is that we spend all our time worrying about them, or worrying about what other people might think about them, and the reality is, everybody is too busy worrying about their own to notice yours! Which is a good thing really. I am a lot kinder to myself these days then I ever used to be. I think we need to give ourselves permission more often!

  6. @Daisy, Roo and Two Thanks for following my blog Daisy. I'm still finding my way around the blogging universe and will return the favour :) Kate and I had our first babies at the same time (and now both of us have 4 lol) and she is my blogging inspiration!


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you taking the time xxx

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