I've hidden behind the dark veil of my bangs for almost 7 years now. I went from side bangs to straight bangs, then back to side bangs again. For me, bangs hid some of my insecurities: my uncurved, flatter forehead, my once large-and-in-charge eyebrows that I never knew how to properly groom. Bangs made me feel more comfortable in the skin I used to so despise-- the skin that I used to think was not so beautiful.

Around the time I got bangs, I started to wear makeup as well. At first, it was just a dark line above my eyelash line. Then, in eighth grade, I started wearing a powder foundation my friend gave me. I didn't know the shade was two shades too dark-- I just liked that it covered up my skin "blemishes" such as my freckles (which I hated at the time). While the powder was off and on, the eyeliner was a daily occurrence that only evolved. It grew in girth, length, and eventually spread to my lower lash line. I remember that one night in eighth grade when I was playing around with my (minimal) makeup and put a thin line of eyeliner on my lower waterline. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, I actually don't look bad," which was the first time I thought this in a while.

So, as the eyeliner grew (and I mean it grew, at one point I was a full-on raccoon), the bangs grew with it. From eighth grade until around tenth grade, I had long, ominous bangs that basically touched my eyelashes. I also wore dark eyeliner on my waterline, and below and above my lash line. I was told at one point by some friends that, before they met me, they thought I was emo. This was a sort of wakeup call to me since I didn't want people to get the wrong impression (no shame against the emo look, it just wasn't what I was going for). So, around 11th grade, I grew my bangs into side bangs. It was a new look, and I liked it. I had initially gone from side bangs to full bangs because I was insecure about my forehead, but after a few years of maturing, I had the confidence to show half (more like ¼) of my forehead. And yes, I repped the eyeliner every day, all day-- I still didn't feel confident without it.

In senior year, I still had the side bangs, but I started wearing less eyeliner. I also went from the "raccoon look" to the "cat-eye" look (AKA the infamous winged eyeliner). Essentially, my eyeliner stopped growing vertically and started growing horizontally. I also started a thing where I'd go "makeup-less" once a week (or in other words, I still wore foundation and top waterline but didn't do my winged eyeliner). On this one day, I would always feel fresher than ever-- I could wipe my eyes without fearing I'd smudge the line, and I wouldn't have to reapply the liner halfway through the day to make it dark and defined again. The catch was, I felt 10x less confident. Because of this, I went from normally pretty extroverted Emma to introverted Emma: I hung in the library more these days, talked less with people outside my friend circle, volunteered less in class, and so on. But it was still a step towards fully accepting my bare face.

When college first started, I still repped the same look: a lot of eyeliner with a lot of bangs on the side. But as the year progressed, there became more and more days where I wouldn't have time to put on eyeliner in the morning, or I'd have a short day and would be in my dorm most of the time (so why put in the effort in doing my makeup?). In addition, I no longer had the leisure of being 2 minutes away from my hair salon, which I would normally visit every 2 weeks for a quick bang trim (yes, I was now 22 minutes away, but it was nevertheless inconvenient). So, my bangs began to grow; they grew and grew, to the point where I started considering growing them out. This was the first time this thought crossed my mind in 7 years. I questioned my friends, family, and random acquaintances about this proposition, I was so unsure about it. I knew I hated my forehead, especially the feeling I'd get when someone would lift up my bangs, or I would do so myself and look in the mirror. I didn't like that version of myself. I'd see (what I thought was) a less-attractive girl and think, "Who is she?". Despite the many hesitations, I decided to grow them out. I felt comfortable in this decision, as if I didn't like the look, I could always cut my hair and get side bangs again.

I write this wearing no eyeliner, and showing around ¾ of my forehead, with my grown out side bangs tucked behind my ears. I want to say that I still feel beautiful, since I do, but I also feel hesitant, a bit reluctant… If I wasn't in the decent mental place I'm proud to say I am in now, I don't think I would have the confidence to rep the little-to-no bangs look. In addition, these days I probably only do my makeup and put on the "wing" around 1-2 times a week. The other 5-6 days I go for the natural, not too heavy look: a bit of foundation, eyebrow filler (due to my sparse brows) and upper waterline, all just so I don't look dead and sleep deprived (as I usually am).

My bangs and black eyeliner have been with me through it all-- they've seen me at my darkest points and my highest. But I'm also happy and excited to be giving my forehead a glimpse of the sunlight for the first time in (what feels like) forever. It feels new and fresh, just like the way I'd feel on those days I don't wear eyeliner. Looking back to those days in eighth grade, where I couldn't picture myself having the confidence to leave the house without black raccoon-like eyeliner or my long bangs in my face, I'm happy to say I've come quite far. I still have a long way to go before I feel beautiful showing all fourths of my forehead or going out with a sincere fresh face. But still, I'd like to think that it's sometimes more important and meaningful taking a moment to look at the road traveled behind you rather than think about the dreaded road ahead.