The following might no be a “traditional” post, it’s probably something more like a stream of thoughts originated by an article read in “Lenny Letter”, a feminist magazine that speaks in the most honest and democratic way about fashion, beauty and politics. I’m personally a big fan of it and also of the chief director and co-founder Lena Dunham ( actress and director of the tv series “Girls”).
The article was indeed a “love letter” for all women written by Alicia Keys; In it she uncovers herself and she gets rid of all her insecurities while talking about them in the purest way. When explaining her decision to never put on make-up again, which might be a little be drastic, she underlines how it is not a sign of a revolution but simply a method to try to be true herself.
Very often we hear about the power of make-up but not very much about the power of no-makeup. She writes about her “traumatic” (and common) high school experience when she felt ugly and kind like a fish out of water, different from the schoolmates who kept telling her to cover her super curly hair, a characteristic of which she used to be proud of.
“We all get to a point in our lives (especially girls) where we try to be perfect. 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 is in order to fit into a picture of what others seem to see as perfection. Yeah, that’s one moment”.
She had developed the idea that if you hide behind mascara, perfect hair and lipstick, like the most beautiful girls in school, then you will be a little closer to perfection. This way of thinking made her not true to herself, making very difficult to understand many things about her life: “Trust me, it didn’t just end in junior high. I remember when I first started to be in the public eye. Oh my gawd! Everyone had something to say. ‘She’s so hard, she acts like a boy, she must be gay, she should be more feminine!’ But the truth is, I was just from New York, and everyone I knew acted like that. In the streets of New York you had to be tough, you HAD to be hard, people needed to know that you weren’t scared to fight! But this wasn’t the streets of New York. This was the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment and my biggest test yet. I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the ‘they’s’ would accept me”.
The world told her: being thin means being perfect, being sexy means to show your body. Be desirable to the others’ eyes had become the mantra to follow but, at one point, she couldn’t stand it anymore: “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?”
“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”.
She succeeded, despite everything, throughout the years to listen more to her true self, also with the help of meditation and the process of self-discovering but, “It wasn’t until I walked into one of my first shoots for my new album recently that the issue was front and center again. I’d just come from the gym, had a scarf under my baseball cap, and the beautiful photographer Paola (never met a Paola I didn’t like) said, ‘I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!‘”
“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.
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”.
‘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’.
Everyone has to find their own way to inner beauty and acceptation: for many people (myself included) makeup certainly helps to feel beautiful, creative and sometimes it could even be therapeutic. But I think that this is an amazing story that has to be told, which represents a lot of people and that it could inspire women out there.
Credits Images: Fault Magazine, Getty Images.