False Beauty Spots

False Beauty Spots

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Image: "Beauty Spots (dimples or "marks") are attractive and desirable."

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. From St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Missouri on April 24, 1883. "PERSONAL--Young lady wearing red hat, beauty mark on chin, who noticed gent on front row at circus Monday night, will greatly favor him by granting interview."

“Beauty Mark,” a.k.a. Dimple, as an appealing defining characteristic in a newspaper flirtation. From St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Missouri on April 24, 1883.

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Victorians often referred to 3 different types of facial skin deformities as “Beauty Marks”:

  1.  Moles (little black/brown spots like the first picture, above)
  2.  Dimples
  3.  “Character marks”/incidental scars–may have been “tongue in cheek” reference

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Yes. Deformity.

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Dimples are a facial muscle deformity. Dimples may be caused by variations in the structure of the facial muscle known as zygomaticus major. Specifically, the presence of a double or bifid zygomaticus major muscle may explain the formation of cheek dimples. [source]

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Official deformity or not, humans happen to think dimples and facial moles (within reason) are adorable. After all, how many fictional heroes have you read about with dimples? Or a cleft (dimpled) chin? Or a charming heroine with one or two dimples in her smiling cheeks? We like dimples and other beauty marks so well we pay good money to intentionally bring about what Mother Nature forgot to bequeath at birth.

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Let’s not forget how much Victorian-era women loved deforming their “natural figure” into that of an hourglass. Yes, the “evils of tight lacing.”

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing, a.k.a. corsets." Chicago Daily Tribune, 1897.

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The Twenty-first Century Woman has many choices to alter her appearance…more than simply padded bras, foundation garments, plucking, teeth bleaching, hair dye, hair extensions (including halos), and cosmetics (including tattooed eyeliner, lip-liner, and weave-in eyelash augmentation).

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Tattooed Beauty Mark (before and after). Shared on Pinterest from permanentmakeupsocal.com

Tattooed Beauty Mark (before and after). Shared on Pinterest from permanentmakeupsocal.com

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Individuals Choose all kinds of alterations: hair color, piercings, gauges, tattoos, and teeth shaping

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and yes, they can even choose DIMPLES

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Image: imples!

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People can and do intentionally create dimples in their cheeks and pay for it…just like people choose to dye their hair, pierce their ears (and noses, belly buttons, eyebrows, and more), and even more radical and permanent changes in their appearance. Plastic Surgeons include DIMPLES on their menu of body image alterations available for a fee.

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Twenty-first century options don’t surprise me at all.
But Victorian Dimples….BY CHOICE?
That surprises me.

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Successful Means

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Our Victorian ancestors found purportedly successful means of enhancing Mother Nature’s endowment of Beauty Spots.

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Marks. Original to Philadelphia Times, printed in The Topeka Daily Capital of Topeka, Kansas, on August 25, 1885. "False Beauty Spots," including artifical dimples, made to order. An artist placed a glass tube over the desirable spot and sucked air from the tube, tied silk thread about a skin protuberance, and sliced off, then pressed with an inverted silver cone. Dressed for five consecutive days, the wound became a pretty little dimple.

The Topeka Daily Capital of Topeka, Kansas, on August 25, 1885.

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Part 1 of "Dimples coming into vogue again," from The Inter Ocean of Chicago, Illinois on November 20, 1898.

Part 1. The Inter Ocean of Chicago, Illinois on November 20, 1898.

 

Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Part 2 of "Dimples coming into vogue again," from The Inter Ocean of Chicago, Illinois on November 20, 1898.

Part 2.

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Victorian Cosmetics to Cause Dimples (denied patent)

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. From The Sunday Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on August 1, 1897.

The Sunday Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on August 1, 1897.

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Because this woefully fascinating cosmetic reference in the Wilkes-Barre-based newspaper, The Sunday Leader, didn’t scan (or age) sufficiently well, here is the transcript of this section of the lengthier report on women’s patent requests:

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…Cosmetics are next in order and one woman applied for a patent on a method of making a dimple. Briefly described, her plan was to smear a small spot on the cheek or chin with colorless shellac varnish mixed with glue, and then with a pencil or other pointed instrument make a “dent” in the yielding flesh and hold it in place until the shellac dried hard. All traces of the varnish were to be rendered invisible by the skillful use of face-powder.

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The inventor admitted in her application that her invention would not be of as much value to women with thin and bony faces as to those with plump and bonny ones. It is not likely that this had anything to do with the patent commissioner’s decision, but he declined to grant the patent. [source]

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Dimple Machines

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(15 years beyond the Victorian Era… but Elizabeth Jermaine, Inventor, was born in the Victorian Era so we’ll go with it.)

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Dimples. Ready to Order. Part 1. The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1916

The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1916. Header.

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Dimples. Ready to Order. Part 2. The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1916

The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1916. Part 2.

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Dimples. Ready to Order. Part 3. The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1916

The Pittsburgh Press of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1916. Part 3.

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Victorian-Born Men Covet Dimples, Too

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Look to your dimples. part 2. The Houston Post of Houston, Texas on October 29, 1910Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Look to your dimples. part 1. The Houston Post of Houston, Texas on October 29, 1910

The Houston Post of Houston, Texas on October 29, 1910.

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This article, titled Look to Your Dimples appeared in The Houston Post, of Houston, Texas, on October 29, 1910. (Beyond the Victorian Era, but the men who wished to appeal, without a doubt, to young ladies were Victorian-born, so here it is at least for its humorous slant on men and their vanity. [Some things never change])

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Note: The article had a fold in the paper–either when printed or when scanned for digital preservation, Either way, parts of the first paragraph are unreadable.

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Look to Your Dimples.

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The Man’s Magazine Page in the Delineate has, by Dirithy Dox, the following:

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It [is] an ennobling thought, men, to understand that women have no right to [a] corner on beauty. Men have always sat back and let the women make themselves attractive. Beauty beauty isn’t re..tered at Washington, so, men, to y– lotions!

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Nothing helps along a plain face on a man like a dimple or two. One little dimple will make any genus homo look like a  Gibson man leaning across a cafe table, while two dimples will cause girls to sigh and read Omar Khayyam late at night, and three will make the traffic squad send in a call for the reserves.

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A man with a dimple in his chin can go to a dance afoot and be the most popular gentleman there. A man with a neat dimple has never to dance on a hot evening for company. No man with a dimple is a wall flower. Instead, he will be a posey garden where each girl will want a tulip.

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Dimples, like most beauty boosters, are merely a matter of mind, muscle and might. They don’t depend so much on diet as on endeavor. First, invent for yourself a good dimple machine, and practice early and late. As soon as you have had your bath in the morning take out your dimple machine and apply it. Then before retiring at night have another application. If at first you don’t dimple, try, try again.

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Some people prefer a common ax with a spring-back for a plain, simple dimple on the chin. But while the candle burns there is always the element of uncertainty that it may place the dimple too high and you out of the running, as to make it a rather nervous task. Other men would rather be dimpled by a swiftly and silently moving buzz-saw. This has the advantage you never have to worry about the details; you can always get them from the nurse.

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Kristin Holt | False Beauty Spots. Image: Johnson & Johnson Beauty Spots, as displayed by the Smithsonian.

Johnson & Johnson Beauty Spots, a vintage commercial offering (1915 to 1930) as displayed by the Smithsonian.

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False Beauty Spots
Updated July 2020
Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt LC