For a while now I’ve been looking into the ways in which make-up can cause a change in how women are perceived in the work place and if they are promoted more based on appearance. Grooming in certain industries are a requirement and looking hygenically clean, kept and taking a pride in your appearance is normal nowadays. But, when does it go to far? I love the fact that Alicia Keys is choosing to do this for herself, it makes me think, could I go to client meetings and events with no make up on?
Alicia Keys has shunned the intense pressures placed on women in the public eye, and women in general, by choosing to stop wearing make-up.
The pressures to conform to typical airbrushed beauty standards in the entertainment industries are being met with a steady rebuttal. The rise of models who vary in size, the high-profile women calling out publications for Photoshopping them and the amount of women in the public eye posting pictures of them not wearing any make up are all testament to this.
Keys has now joined the latter movement. Penning an essay for Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s feminist newsletter, Lenny (Which I’ve just signed up for), the “Fallin” singer discusses her decision, a decision she credits as being one of the most empowering ones she’s made.
The 35-year old touched on her experiences of being judged on her appearance when she first established herself in what she calls “the harsh, judgemental world of entertainment”, explaining “everyone had something to say” about her appearance.
It comes just as the selfie trend has caused a huge upturn in make up brands when your audience wants you to be make up ready at all times.
Cosmetics was the fastest growing division for the company for the full-year to 30 June, with turnover up 9%.
The owner of brands such as Clinique, MAC and Bobbi Brown, said there has been a “shift in consumer preferences”.
That impulse helped Estee Lauder’s sales to rise by 4% to a total of $11.2bn for the year.
It has now been 15 years since Keys released her first album Songs In a Minor and Keys said before working on her latest upcoming album she made a list of everything she was tired of, one being “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 judgement of women,” she writes.
Keys explained not wearing makeup was a big insecurity for her and she was constantly fearful of being judged should she be seen without makeup on.
“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?,” she wrote. “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.”
After gaining confidence and overcoming these insecurities through meditation and working on her new album, Keys partook in a no-make-up photo shoot, which formed the artwork accompanying her latest single. She says the results left her feeling “the strongest, most empowered, most free and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt”.
“I felt powerful because my initial intentions realised themselves,” she writes. “My desire to listen to myself, to tear down the walls I built over al 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.”
Since then Keys has been spotted on several occasions wearing no make up and posed for magazines including Vanity Fair and Fault proving the feeling of empowerment lasted. Keys concluded her essay by saying she hopes the no makeup movement becomes a “revolution”
That it might be. In recent months, Cameron Diaz posted a candid no-make up selfie to generate a healthy discussion about ageing. Cindy Crawford, Eva Longoria, Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway have also posted similarly important selfies.
(Originally appeared in BBC and Independent)