La-La Land's Most Loved Lesion:

 The Beauty Mark

Gwen Stefani makes her feature film debut in a brief appearance in the Martin Scorsese epic, "The Aviator." As classic movie siren Jean Harlow, Stefani has little time to depict her character's essence.

 Leonardo Di Caprio as Howard Hughes appears at a premiere with a platinum blonde actress Jean Harlow...

 ...Here played by pop star Gwen Stefani.

 While the blonde hair is accurate...

 ...the mole has landed off course.

Fortunately, the film's makeup squad have come to the rescue, distilling Harlow's appeal down to a single visible exclamation point: Her beauty mark. Of course, as is often the case in plane travel, the flight doesn't always go as planned. So Harlow's mole, instead of safely setting down on her chin, crash lands higher on Stefani's cheek. Interestingly, Stefani already has enough moles to garner a Skinnies Award all her own. But this beauty mark required the combined talents of a series of Hollwood's finest makeup artists to...stencil in a black dot. Harlow's is not the only mole to survive the transition from actor to actee.


In "Shark Tale," Tinseltown tough guy Robert De Niro lends his voice to the malevolent marine Mafioso Don Lino. To remind audiences who they're talking to, the computer animators make Lino the first shark in film (and biological) history to have a mole. We've seen scarred sharks, and pierced sharks, but never an undersea predator with a De Niro-esque beauty mark.

 Actress Clara Bow had a beauty mark.

 Or did she? Here it's heart-shaped.

 Now a star. Talk about creative differences.

The popularity of this lesion is nothing new. Beauty marks are so desirable that mole-less actors will actually create them with makeup. Does the name Clara Bow ring a bell? No? Once, this silent film actress was a huge celebrity, on the par with Madonna, J-Lo, or even American Idol wanna-be William Hung. The memory of Bow has faded, but the desire for the dainty dot was as strong then as it is now. Bow, bereft of a mole to call her own, still recognized the power of the Mark, placing small heart or star marks like sign posts on the road map of her visage.

What makes beauty marks so treasured? An excellent question, one we've discussed at length. The answer seems to settle on to two conditions: Youth and...youth. Beauty marks are moles located near the eyes or lips.




 Stefani's beauty is enhanced by the lesion on her cheek.

 The same lesion on the forehead...
 ...or the nose misses the mark.

In these digitally altered images, Harlow/Stefani is significantly less glamorous if her moles are located on the nose, or central forehead. This is because the eyes and mouth are proportionately larger in young adulthood, so we want attention drawn to them, even as we continue to celebrate our 29th birthday, over & over. Beauty marks are also young moles. Over a lifetime, the pigment cells that make up moles slowly drift deeper into the skin. Therefore, what begins with a small, flat, discrete point eventually becomes a flesh colored mound.

To show how thespians thrill at the thought of beauty marks, take a gander at a new generation of accentuated actors. La-la Land's love for this lesion lives on.

 Natalie Portman, "Closer"

 Emma Rossum, "Phantom"

 Angelina Jolie, "Alexander"

 Jessica Biel, "Blade: Trinity"

 Kip Pardue, "Imaginary Heroes"






Moviedom's latest matinee idols all appear prettier with their distinctive beauty marks. Which begs the question: Mirror, mirror, who's the fairest of them all? None of them are deformed, but looking at those lips, those eyes, that mark--these ladies better watch pay their agents well, or actor Kip Pardue may start to steal their roles.

Runner up, Most Loved Lesion:



 Skin tags in "Along Came Polly" ?

  The asymptomatic sore of syphilis seen in "Kinsey" ?
We can't think of any other skin lesion actors would actually crave: None.


© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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