An 8-year-old named Ethan got his Christmas wish when Santa left him a gift card for a makeup lesson, and an adorable photo of the lesson is now blowing up on Facebook.
Ethan's mother, Season Wilwert, told BuzzFeed News she got the idea for the present when she was shopping at MAC cosmetics a few months earlier.
During the trip, her son asked the manager about learning makeup application and technique.
"He is a very artistic child and loves to express himself creatively, whether through drawing, gymnastics, or performing arts," Wilwert said. "This is just another form of that expression."
Ethan had his lesson with makeup artist Joey Killmeyer. Ethan's mother said there was an "instant connection" between the two when they met.
"It was such a great experience and from the moment we walked in, Joey treated Ethan as the client," she said.
The Florida-based makeup artist, who has worked in the style industry for over 15 years, was touched by how supportive Ethan's mother was.
"It shows me the world is changing from when I was his age and that there is hope for kids who are different," he wrote on Facebook along with a photo.
Ethan informed the makeup artist that he often watches YouTube makeup tutorials, like those of Jeffree Starr, and wanted to learn how to do them himself.
"Me and his mom agreed that if that's what he wanted, to go for it," Killmeyer told BuzzFeed News. "I treated him like I would any client. He just happened to be 8."
Killmeyer completed one side of Ethan's face and then allowed the 8-year-old to try and do the rest himself.
"I don't remember the last time I saw Ethan so happy or so confident in himself," Wilwert said. Other shoppers in the store even requested that Ethan do their makeup.
Ethan received some free mascara as part of the tutorial, but his mother stressed that it went straight to her own makeup drawer.
"Ethan is an 8-year-old child, first and foremost," she said. "He lives a pretty typical life and does not wear any makeup to school or in public."
After posting the image to Facebook, Killmeyer was pleased to see that many comments were positive. But he was disappointed by the few who negatively implied Ethan must be gay or a drag queen.
One commenter even called Killmeyer a pedophile for posting the image.
"Ethan is young and who knows what he will do in his life," Killmeyer said. "But I posted the story because I was so touched that his mom was supporting him in what he wanted to do. As an artist, I love bringing joy to my clients and Ethan was so happy and confident when we were finished with the lesson. There are too many kids whose parents ignore or deter these things."
Wilwert said she has seen a "common theme" in the reactions to Ethan's photo online that many people have struggled with feeling ashamed by how they express themselves.
"That is exactly the kind of behavior we wish to stop," she said. "Our children should be encouraged to freely explore and discover their identities, not just be handed them."
Wilwert added she has stopped herself from reading any of the negative comments.
"This is a pivotal moment in my son's development, and I know that by letting him just be Ethan, regardless of what others may think, that I am doing something right as his mom," she said.