Alicia Keys is… still talking about makeup.
Back in May, the singer made a strong anti-makeup statement in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter that came across to many as makeup-shaming.
“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?
You grab the brush and gel and pull your beautiful big hair back into the tightest ponytail you possibly can to contain your unique hair in a bun — hiding a piece of who you are in order to fit into a picture of what others seem to see as perfection.
Yeah, that’s one moment.
Or how about in 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.”
She goes on to state that she will be ditching makeup because it is hiding her true self and ends with,
“I hope to God it’s a revolution.”
Except she didn’t ditch makeup. In a candid October interview Key’s makeup artist Dotti revealed that the singer had minimized but not discarded her makeup routine which still included brow fillers, brow definers and finishing powder.
And now, in a new Allure interview, Keys herself is sorta backtracking on her bold “revolution” statement;
“I’m not a slave to makeup. I’m not a slave to not wearing makeup either. I get to choose at [any] given moment. That’s my right…
I think makeup can be self-expression. I have no intention to shame anyone at all [who chooses to wear it]. No one should be ashamed by the way you choose to express yourself. And that’s exactly the point. However, if you want to do that for yourself, you should do that.
I am all about a woman’s right to choose. I think a woman should do anything she wants as it relates to her face, her body, her health. Whatever mode of expression that empowers you, that’s what you should do. What I am not down for is this ridiculously high, unrealistic expectation about appearance that we as women are held to…
I started at 20 years old in this ridiculously invasive world [the music business] in which everyone covered me in makeup and then threw me under tons of lights, so I’d sweat for two or three hours.
It took me so long to finally say, ‘Whoa! Who am I under there?’” she explained. “That is just my own personal quest.”
Alicia Keys is to be commended for walking many a red carpet with minimal makeup. And while her no makeup “movement” did annoy me initially, over time it pushed me to question why a bare face is considered unattractive and even inappropriate in glam settings. Not to mention the gendered expectation that women wear makeup in many professional and formal contexts, while men are exempt. Still, I wish Keys had just been honest from day one, and not thrown makeup-loving women under the bus with implications of vanity and inauthenticity.
Go to Allure Magazine for Keys’ full interview and photo shoot.