By Autumn Moon

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

As I got older and began going to stores like Ulta and Sephora, I was thrilled by all the colors, textures, scents and shapes of certain palettes and packages. Growing up, I always loved art and had a very creative personality. I was drawn to 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 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 from my mom’s bathroom. Eventually, this became a routine for me. I began to feel 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, concealer and the occasional eyeshadow sparkle into my routine. Makeup made me feel pretty even after a long night or rough day. It emphasized my features and I began to notice little things I liked about myself that I never had before. 

It’s funny how things change. One grim day, I was talking with a group of friends from school in my junior year of high school. We were discussing getting ready for 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. 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. 

Overtime, I realized how silly it was that I let one girl’s comment affect how I viewed my appearance and my makeup 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. 

Today, 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, you should never give it up because of what other people say about how you do it. 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.