Singer Alicia Keys may live her life in the public eye, but even after 35 million albums and 15 Grammy Awards, this doesn’t mean she’s impervious to the intense scrutiny celebrities face over their appearance. She’s a veteran of the industry at this stage, and after over a decade of conforming to pressure to look consistently perfect, she’s had enough of adhering to societal standards of beauty and proudly wants to wear #NoMakeup in public or for any promotional shoots.
In an essay for Lenny, Keys wrote that she was sick of feeling “not normal.” “I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you’re plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.”
Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn’t put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they POSTED it???
She reflects on being a young entertainer suddenly thrust into the spotlight when Fallin’ topped the charts around the world, and explained that she became “a chameleon” to cope with the pressure “never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the “they’s” would accept me.” Her insecurities were based “way too much around what people thought of me” and so, one day after a photographer wanted to shoot her sans makeup, something clicked for Keys; her lightbulb moment. And so her #NoMakeup movement was born.
It was just a plain white background, me and that baseball hat and scarf and a bunch of invisible magic circulating. And I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.
Of course, critics would argue this is an easy stance to take when you’re as obviously beautiful as Keys is – some have also argued that wearing no makeup is yet another standard they have to live up to – but for Keys, it’s about feeling, confident, comfortable and empowered in the skin God gave you and that’s as positive a message as any to teach young women. If you feel at your best with a full face wear it proudly, but as the entertainer argues, you don’t have to cover up anything, should you not want to.