When I saw Alicia Keys’ #nomakeup selfies popping up on tabloid-fueled posts on my instagram feed yesterday, I did a little victory dance for the future.
Alicia Keys says “It’s time to Uncover.”
The pessimists say it’s all for publicity, trying to sell a new album. Honestly, in an age of Photoshop and Facetune, after days and months of looking longingly at an Instagram feed full of perfect-looking women with perfect-looking makeup, I have to admit–whether the pessimists are right or wrong, I don’t care. I’m just glad there’s a influential face to lead the #nomakeup movement.
This is what we need right now.
She’s absolutely stunning, right? Most of us mere mortals don’t look that good sans-makeup, but that doesn’t mean we should eschew the movement altogether. Keep reading.
As for Keys, here’s what she has to say about #nomakeup and her long journey to self-acceptance, excerpted from a very personal letter written for the site Lenny’s Letters:
“Before I started my new album, 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.
All of it is so frustrating and so freakin’ impossible.
I realized that during this process, I wrote a lot of songs about masks filled with metaphors about hiding.
I needed these songs because I was really feeling those insecurities.
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?
I didn’t know the answers exactly, but I desperately wanted to.
.. 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??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me.”
Who hasn’t struggled with the same feelings of self-consciousness and self-doubt?
As for how the #nomakeup revolution started, Keys’ says that her photographer caught her off-guard when she showed up for a photoshoot:
“It was just a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately relating.. And 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! The universe was listening to those things I’d promised myself, or maybe I was just finally listening to the universe, but however it goes, that’s how this whole #nomakeup thing began. Once the photo I took with Paola came out as the artwork for my new song “In Common,” it was that truth that resonated with others who posted #nomakeup selfies in response to this real and raw me.
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.”
In case you don’t know who Keys is, she’s a 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, actress, author, activist.. the list goes on and on (wiki).
You might be asking yourself, “How can someone who is so accomplished, so talented, and so (honestly) beautiful, feel insecure?!”
If a celebrity is feeling this way, it just goes to show that we all experience these feelings.
Makeup is an awesome tool; it can instill confidence, allow us to express ourselves through artistry, or simply enhance what’s already there. We just have to remember that we can’t lose our true confidence in it all.
Looking beyond ourselves, we can’t let those looking up to us think that makeup is an every day necessity, instead of a choice.
So makeup or #nomakeup, there’s a reason this movement is catching like fire with young people. In a world of unrealistic expectations, of photoshop and filters, it’s time to stand behind what the movement stands for, because this is what we need right now.