Alicia Keys is back, and she’s better and bolder than ever. After just recently releasing her single “In Common”, she also wrote a powerful essay for Tuesday’s issue of the Lenny Letter, according to People Magazine. The singer captivated her fans, as she touched on society’s idea of standardized beauty and how she no longer wants to submit to it.
She is fed up with the idea of covering up.
First, Keys addressed the possible moments, where women attempt to be perfect. She wrote, “Does it start somewhere in second grade after picture day when you wear your frizzy hair out 'cause your mama says it's beautiful but all your "friends" laugh at you?... Or how about in junior high school? Where all the "pretty" girls are wearing lipstick and eyeliner and mascara” (Lenny Letter).
She vividly described moments where young ladies decide that, in order to be accepted, or to be considered beautiful, they would have to blend in. This could influence them to hide what society would consider as flaws. Keys also tackled her own insecurities, as she mentioned her journey from being a chameleon to becoming more familiar with and accepting of her true self. It all started with the moment she hit the entertainment scene.
Growing up in New York, she was always expected to be tough. That manifested through her style and mannerisms. Unfortunately, the media and public didn’t react too well to her appearance. They didn’t see her as “feminine enough”. Having gone through that, Keys became overly conscious of her appearance and other people’s perceptions of her.
She then realized that she had become a true chameleon, changing with everyone’s opinion of her. That’s when it hit her: Who gets to decide what is considered “beautiful”? Who decides what is “acceptable”?
She wrote, “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” (Lenny Letter). The standards that society want women to live up to, are so impossible, she said.
She carried this passion and frustration with her, to her photo shoot for her new album. When she got there, the photographer said, ‘“I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!"’ (Lenny Letter). Initially, she felt a bit uncomfortable. After a while, she began to feel powerful. And, that was her defining moment.
She proclaimed, “It was just a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately relating, 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” (Lenny Letter).
That’s how the “nomakeup” movement began. After revealing her photos, people responded with #nomakeup selfies, acknowledging the truth behind the acceptance of natural and inner beauty. This “girl on fire” hopes to start a revolution with her new movement.