Thank Goodness We Don’t Have to Do That Anymore: Beauty Mark Etiquette

Une Dame à sa Toilette by François Boucher shows a lady applying mouches

Moles are a really common human skin condition and people have found them attractive in certain configurations for centuries. Sometimes they have also attached meaning to certain placements of moles. Drawing them in has even been fashionable at times- Marilyn Monroe’s famous spot started a trend for them in the 1950s. But 18th century French aristocrats took it a step farther and glued fake spots on, in all kinds of Lucky Charms shapes, and assigned meanings to their placements.

In France, these spots were called Mouches or little flies (pretty obvious why!) and were made out of black silk, velvet, taffeta etc. They came in all kinds of shapes like circles, crescent moons, stars, and hearts (even quite elaborate shapes like horse-drawn carriages would sometimes appear!) and would be glued onto the face and décolletage (that’s the cleavagy region of the chest). In addition to their secret meanings, these little spots were also quite handy for covering up small pox scars! They would also draw attention to a certain particularly attractive feature of the face. The dark color in contrast to the skin also made the skin look paler, very much the in thing at the time. Men and women both wore them and could wear any from one to ten at a time!

Of course, all good fads need some material goods to go with them. So the French created fancy little “patch boxes” to keep their little face  stickers in. Made with tons of gold and jewels and miniature paintings, natch.

Some possible meanings for the placement of the spots:

Middle of forehead: dignified or imposing or grandeur

Corner of eye or eyelid: passionate

Middle of cheek: gallant

Cheekbone: risque

Heart-shaped (left cheek): engaged

Heart-shaped (right cheek): married

Between mouth and chin: silent

Corner of the eye: passion

On lower lip or on chin: discreet

Beside the mouth: likes to kiss

On nose: saucy or sassy

Near lip: flirtatious or seductive or even able to kill

On neck: generous

How To Grocery Shop Without Going Crazy


Don’t smash cans on the ground

Do you like grocery shopping? I love it. I could go down every aisle a million times and look at how they’re organized, and find new things to cook with, or weird candy bars I’ve never seen before. However, I also realize mine is not the majority opinion. (I also prefer narrow, overcrowded grocery stores. The ones with the big aisles and bright lights in the suburbs give me the creeps.) For a lot of people, grocery shopping can be a hassle, in large part because you have to deal with so many other people parking and shopping and waiting on line. It’s like a people factorial, and I totally understand how it can be horrifying. So let’s talk about a few proactive ways you can make your grocery shopping experience all the better.

  • Don’t block the aisle with your cart. This can be tricky sometimes if the aisles are really narrow, but in that case just be vigilant. Stay near your cart and if you see someone is trying to get past, move. Also don’t just leave your cart in the middle of an aisle while you shop elsewhere. Maybe those people who put razor blades in candy apples on Halloween are in the store and just did that to your dinner supplies.
  • Don’t leave unwanted groceries all around the store. Ok, I’ve totally done this, but you shouldn’t. If you picked up some chicken and decide you don’t want it, don’t sneak it into the peanut butter section and pretend no one will notice. However, no one cares if you put the Cheerios back in front of the Chex. It’s the little things, right?
  • Ask where lines begin and end, not just at checkout. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been waiting at the deli counter only to have someone come in on the other side and assume they’re next. Cool it, lady, I need lunchmeat.
  • Keep an eye on your kids. Does your grocery store have one of those carts with the fake car in front for kids to sit in? Good. Use it. No one wants to accidentally run their overflowing cart into a wayward toddler. If not just make sure they’re close and not ripping through snack boxes.
  • Figure out if you need to bag your own groceries. We’ve covered this already, but figure out how to quickly and efficiently get through the checkout line.
  • Don’t take too many items into the express line. More from us on this soon, but be reasonable if you have one or two things over the limit or if there is a long line in the express line already.

How Do I Not Draw Attention To My Coworker’s Stutter

downloadDear Uncommon Courtesy,

I work with a guy who has a pretty heavy stutter. I had a speech impediment as a kid and remember feeling embarrassed by it, so I don’t want to make him feel awkward. Is there anything I can actively do to make sure I’m not making him self conscious?


Speech Solidarity



Miss Manners says “it is considered rude to finish other people’s sentences.”

Victoria: So I have had friends with stutters, so I am pretty good with this.

Jaya: Oh good! Because I have no idea.

Victoria: Basically you just wait. It makes people, in my experience, much more nervous if you try to guess what they are going to or react to it at all.

Jaya: Yes, that brings a lot more attention to it and if you get frustrated, it usually makes the stutter worse.

Victoria: Yep! So I would just wait patiently and maybe glance around slightly so you aren’t STARING at them.

Jaya: Yeah. Like, be natural. Omg that’s always the worst advice though. Nothing makes you more unnatural than trying to be natural.

Victoria: Haha TRUE.

Jaya: Like “oh just make normal regular eye contact that’s not too intense.” But yeah, I’d think you just don’t want to draw attention to it, unless the person actually asks for help somehow. Also so much advice focuses on telling people not to finish stutterers sentences. WHO IS DOING THIS?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Thank Goodness We Don’t Have to Do That Anymore: Morganatic Marriages

So technically, some people still might have morganatic marriages but most of us don’t.

A morganatic marriage is basically a marriage between a man (usually) of higher rank who marries a woman of lower rank and does not pass any of his titles and privileges to his wife and any resulting children. The purpose being, to allow marriage for love when it otherwise wouldn’t be allowed while still preventing undesirable children from joining lines of succession.

Morganatic marriages were most popular in Germanic countries and Russia. Ghengis Khan also practiced polyamoric morgantic marriage, where only the children from his official wife were allowed to inherit while the children from his morganatic wives were not, though they were still legitimate. Morganatic marriage was never really practiced in the UK because there was no prohibition against marrying commoners in the first place. Edward VIII proposed a morganatic marriage with Wallis Simpson so as to marry her and remain king, however parliament did not approve and we all know how that ended.

Famous Morganatic Marriages:

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Though she was an aristocrat, Sophie was not a member of a ruling royal family, she was not eligible as a royal wife. They ended up having 3 children and were assassinated in Sarajevo, an event that kicked off World War I.

Victor Emmanuelle II of Italy and his wife (and former favorite mistress) Rosa. The first king of united Italy had a proper royal marriage to Adelaide of Austria which gave him 8 children. After she died, he married his favorite mistress in a morganatic marriage.

Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma. After the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, his wife Marie Louise married morganatically TWICE, first to Count Adam Albert von Neipperg and then to Charles René de Bombelles (her chamberlain!)

What To Wear To That Funeral

Only wear outfits like these if you're going to a fashion designer's funeral

Only wear outfits like these if you’re going to a fashion designer’s funeral

It’s an unfortunate fact that, as we get older, we start attending more and more funerals and memorial services. It’s also unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) that, for all the talk we have about weddings and baby showers and bar mitzvahs, no one spends a lot of time talking about how to conduct yourself at one of these things. For instance, when Victoria and I discussed what to wear, I said the only guidance I was given was “wear black,” while she said her mom told her not to wear black to the one funeral she has attended. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We don’t seem to be the only ones who are confused. Over at Etiquette Hell, this woman writes that she was chastised for wearing a black, sleeveless dress and a hat with a mini-veil to a wedding, and the commenters seem to be completely divided over the issue of what she wore. So where does this leave us? Here are some tips on what to consider when picking out an outfit for a funeral.

1. Where is it? – If the funeral services are being held in a place of worship, you’re more likely to find a more conservative dress code. In the Etiquette Hell link, but the woman was told that her outfit was inappropriate for the grieving family’s “faith and culture,” though it’s unclear what those are. But keep in mind that if you’re in a place of worship, your shoulders and knees will most likely need to be covered. For men, a black suit will do you just fine. For women, if you can’t find a dark-colored dress with sleeves (or it’s too hot to wear one), invest in simple jacket or shawl.

2. Who is it for?– Victoria said that, traditionally, wearing all black connotes “strong mourning,” and is most appropriate for the immediate family of the deceased. This isn’t to say that if you have a black dress you can’t wear it, just that you don’t need to be stressing yourself out if all you have on hand is something in dark blue. It’s better to wear a muted colored dress or suit than to show up in leggings and a baggy sweater because those are the two black things you happen to own. Traditionally, veils are reserved for the spouse/parents/children of the deceased, so if you decide to wear a hat make sure it doesn’t include one. Of course, this depends on your culture and traditions, so use your best judgment. The problem with wearing something “showy” like a hat with a veil is that it draws attention to you and away from the deceased and their immediate family, especially when people don’t really wear hats anymore. Like a wedding, you should absolutely avoid wearing anything that draws particular attention to yourself (unless you are the immediate family.)

3. Think conservative– A sleeved, long-ish black dress is great. A black satin dress with an open back is not. Try to keep jewelry, super-bright colors, and overall shine to a minimum. Same thing with shoes–now is the perfect time for sensible flats or boots.

4. Ignore all of this if the deceased wants you to– Apparently some people get very specific in their wills about what you should and should not wear at their funerals. Some people want everyone in their favorite colors, or specifically ask for no black. Usually you’ll be notified of this if this is the case.