By VIGNESH IYER
Alicia Keys wanted to be free from feeling ashamed of who she truly was both inside and out. For her, it all started with the #nomakeup movement. Keys wrote an open letter on Lenny, an online magazine, to tell the world about her new movement. Through the use of moving anecdotes and passionate prose, she conveyed to us how she was fed up with the way she had to behave because of others.
Keys experienced instances in which she was looked down on for the way she let her hair free and for her tough behavior which led many to label her as gay, all before even she was in the public eye. According to her, the entertainment industry was her biggest test, as facing hundreds of thousands of people throughout her career blew the door wide open for criticism of her appearance. In her own words, she started to become a chameleon, “never being who [she] was, but constantly changing so all they would accept [her].”
The start of a movement to go makeup free could not come at a better time, especially because of our culture, which constantly demeans women for the way they look and act. Recently, a Presidential nominee called the winner of the Miss Universe pageant Miss Piggy because she had put on weight. Twitter has ostracized Gabby Douglas for the way her hair looked at the 2012 Olympics rather than congratulating her on being the first African American woman to win two medals for gymnastics at the Olympics.
So why is it important that someone like Alicia Keys starts a movement where women can go makeup free and not be chastised for doing so? It’s important because we have miles to go before everyone reaches a mindset that scorns the usage of homosexual slurs and that is progressive and respectful of everyone. Keys got sick of the brainwashing that leads women to believe that the only way to be attractive was to be skinny. She was sick of women feeling like they may not be good enough for the world to see. Through this movement and her music, Keys encourages women to have confidence in themselves. One of the songs she wrote for her new album, “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself,” addresses these problems and aims to help women understand that there is no such thing as a standard of beauty set by other people. One of the verses goes like this:
“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”
However, Keys herself has received criticism for using lotions, serums, and oils on her face, and for not following through with a movement she started. But as Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a second wave feminist and activist put it, “she’s not just talking about the tyranny of makeup. She’s talking about female authenticity. She’s challenging the culture’s relentless standards of feminine conformity.” Alicia Keys has made a choice based on what made her feel confident, and she is enjoying it. She is trying to change the way people act, but she’s also trying to change the way people think about women and beauty, and that is so much more important.