(Cover photo by: RCA/Paola Kudacki)
While on Instagram a couple days ago, I kept seeing these beautiful bare-faced images of Alicia Keys. At first I thought it was a throwback, but the more I saw it on my timeline or news feed, I figured it had to be more to the image. I’m not a huge fan of Alicia Keys’ music so at first I wasn’t interested, but once I clicked on the image to learn more I became intrigued with the story. After more lurking, I saw that she is promoting her #nomakeup movement where she is sharing her personal insecurities and uncovering after being covered for so long. Alicia is speaking against the societal standards of beauty and embracing her own natural beauty, flaws and all. With me being on the brink of my #lovingtheskinimin movement – stay tuned 🙂 – I was all in to her story!
Alicia wrote an essay at Lennyletter.com where she talks about remembering from a child this struggle to be perfect that we experience. We start by changing ourselves ever so slightly to avoid being teased or ostracized. We start at a very young age “hiding a piece of who [we] are in order to fit into a picture of what others seem to see as perfection”.
She recalls junior high school “where all the “pretty” girls are wearing lipstick and eyeliner and mascara. Some of them are so skilled they even look like those models in every magazine you ever read — the ones who made you feel slightly uncomfortable with yourself or misrepresented or just unseen. It’s another moment where some piece of you realizes that to fit in or be thought of as beautiful, you have to cover up to be a bit closer to perfect.”
Alicia goes on to talk about how even in the public eye she struggled with this unattainable desire to be perfect in the eyes of others.
“I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the “they’s” would accept me.”
Alicia mentions before starting her new album she wrote a list of all the things she was “sick of” and one being how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect and the constant judgment of women from being “normal size” to plus size.
She realized that she wrote a lot of songs about masks filled with metaphors about hiding. “I needed these songs because I was really feeling those insecurities”, she wrote. “I was finally uncovering just how much I censored myself, and it scared me. Who was I anyway? Did I even know HOW to be brutally honest anymore? Who I wanted to be?”
Alicia recalls a song she wrote called “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself” that says,
“In the morning from the minute that I wake up. What if I don’t want to put on all that makeup. Who says I must conceal what I’m made of. Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem.”
She felt she “was not good enough for the world to see” and this started manifesting on many levels. Her insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts were based too much on what other people thought of her.
Alicia mentions that meditation helped her to gain clarity and a deeper understanding of herself and inner struggles. “I promised I would approach things differently this time regarding my image and allow my real self, as is, to come through.”
It wasn’t until a recent photo shoot for her new music with Paola Kudacki that she was faced with this issue again. She had just come from the gym and we all know how it is coming straight from the gym – sweaty, hair messed up, the whole nine. The photographer wanted to shoot her just as she was, natural, because it spoke to her new music. This photo shoot helped to expose her real, raw self and it’s what birthed the #nomakeup movement.
“I hope to God it’s a revolution. ‘Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”
“I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt. I felt powerful because my initial intentions realized themselves. My desire to listen to myself, to tear down the walls I built over all those years, to be full of purpose, and to be myself!”
Everything about this article was so empowering to me and something to which I can relate. From covering up with makeup, to hiding and struggling with this internal desire yet fight to be perfect. I mean I never knew Alicia Keys had freckles, but to know that she struggled with leaving the house without putting on makeup, is mind blowing to me. Fan or not, she’s gorgeous and it just goes to show that no matter how beautiful (or not beautiful) others think you are, what you feel about yourself inside screams so much louder and hurts so much more. The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me” is so untrue, but it’s the words we repeat to ourselves that hurt more than words from others. When will this stop? When will we truly accept ourselves enough to be ourselves?
Thank you Alicia Keys for this bold statement of empowerment. I hope that many more women join this movement and start embracing themselves, flaws and all.
Who else is loving the skin they’re in? I’d love to hear your story!
Until next time…