From Winged Eyeliner to Red-Hot Lipstick—Why Makeup is a Positive Form of Self-Expression

Ever since I was little, I absolutely adored playing with makeup. My little sister and I would dress up and paint each other’s faces – to my parents’ dismay – and rummage through my mom’s makeup stash for inspiration. 

As I got older and began visiting stores like Ulta and Sephora, I was thrilled by all the colors, textures, scents, and shapes. Growing up, I always loved art and had more of a creative personality. My hands were drawn to the pencils, chalks, and powders. I often left cosmetic stores feeling like a runway model — even if I looked like a clown.

Mascara was the first makeup item that I wore more seriously. Although it feels so long ago now, I probably started putting it on around eighth grade. Every once in a while, I would sneak some of the black material from my mom’s bathroom and place it delicately on my eyelashes. Eventually, this became a routine for me. I soon felt naked without a quick curl of my eyelashes and a swipe of mascara.

It seemed as though every year after that I began adding or changing something about my makeup routine. In my later high school years, I adopted eyeliner, cover-up, and the occasional eye-shadow sparkle into my routine. Makeup made me feel pretty even after a long night or rough skin day. It emphasized my features and made me notice little things I liked about myself that I never had before. 

It’s funny how things change. One grim day during junior year, I was talking with a group of friends from school. We were discussing preparation for junior prom, and one girl blurted out, “well, we all know Autumn’s going to be doing the whole winged eyeliner thing like usual.” She laughed, and it felt cruel. 

I shrugged it off, but it bothered me for a while after. I started to feel self-conscious about something that had previously given me so much confidence. I was never one to feel insecure, but I wondered if people had been silently mocking my makeup choices. I didn’t feel pretty anymore, I felt exposed. 

Over time, I realized how silly it was that I let one girl’s comment affect how I viewed my appearance and routine. Whatever her rationale was, it wasn’t my problem. What mattered was the way I felt when I wore makeup, and I felt good. 

I still use makeup all the time and love to watch tutorials online and test out new looks for special occasions. I have a go-to everyday look: A little mascara, some eyeliner (progressed to a bit of a wing), and if I’m feeling ~edgy~ a little pop of eyeshadow. 

Makeup is not for everyone. Some people find it uncomfortable, or simply don’t like the way they look or feel with it on, and that is totally okay. However, if you love makeup – or anything really – you should never give it up because of what other people say. If a stylistic choice makes you feel confident, pretty, sexy, or otherwise– you should embrace it.

To me, makeup is not just face paint. It doesn't hide features or embellish them. It doesn’t create or change or lie. It simply reminds me to always do what I love unapologetically. Everyone has something that makes them feel good and symbolizes their individuality. The key is that when you find it, hold on and never let go. 

 

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