I came across Alicia Keys’ article on lennyletter about a week ago I think and immediately I wanted to write a post on it because of how much I could relate to her story. In the mean time – because I procrastinate with writing – some interesting issues have cropped up in relation to her announcement that are worthy of discussion.
In the article, Alicia Keys makes very important points about the constant pressure and judgement that women are subjected to by society. Judgement about our face, body size, shape, clothing honestly the list is endless. What is apparent is that Alicia Keys has clearly found liberation in being able to accept her beauty and her skin without make up. If you’re not aware, Alicia Keys struggled with acne in early part of her career and was an ambassador for Proactiv at some point. Add that to the fact that she is an industry that judges women harshly through the lens of perfection, it’s hard not to root for her during this phase. I think she looks absolutely stunning in her make up free photos and the quotes below were beautiful.
It is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.
‘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.’ – Alicia Keys
Like I mentioned reading her post made me nostalgic because I remember hearing a conversation in my Year 10 English Lit class where a few girls said they couldn’t leave their house to go to a corner shop without make up on. This is clearly an extreme case and not everyone who wears make up shares that sentiment but in that moment I decided that I never wanted to depend on make up to determine how beautiful I considered myself to be. I wanted it to be something that I never felt a compulsion to use. I wanted to be able to feel comfortable with my face make up free and never feel the pressure that make up could elevate my beauty. And it’s strange because I probably had the most reasons to wear make up constantly. I have lots of acne scars (hyper-pigmentation) on my face – practically my face is covered in it – but somehow in what I describe as a phase of rebellion against the beauty standards of society, I found it within myself to love and appreciate my face with the scars and to ground that love internally so that I felt beautiful with and without make up. I didn’t want to cover up the scars, I wanted to embrace it. Then I didn’t make the choice to go make up free to be part of a movement, I did it for me.
Which leads me perfectly to this ridiculous statement that I’ve been reading that Alicia Keys started the No Make Up Movement. I don’t even want to call it a movement because I think choosing to wear or not wear make up is the individual choice of every woman but that choice has definitely existed before Alicia Keys decided to stop wearing make up. What is more frustrating is the glaring hypocrisy of this ‘movement’ when it comes to dark skinned women and women who don’t have perfect skin. On one hand Alicia Keys is celebrated and lauded for joining the No make up ‘movement’ and on the other Lil Mama is insulted on Twitter by black women for daring to post a picture of herself online to participate in the trend. Prior to Lil Mama’s incident Keke Palmer was insulted and bullied online for posting make up free pictures that showed her acne scars. The video below is one of my all time favourite videos on Youtube and captures this hypocritical stance by people perfectly.
Lastly I need to mention women should not be shamed and bullied for wearing too much make up either. I went on a Facebook rant a while ago because I was so tired of seeing memes and videos on my feed that trolled women with before and after pictures and not so kind comments. Honestly it’s a double edged sword, women get trolled for not wearing make up and trolled for wearing too much make up. I wrote a post recently on the effect of cyber-bullying which unfortunately also applies in this instance. Make up is a choice that doesn’t affect anyone, but the individual. So cyber warriors and arm chair revolutionaries need to let people make their choices. We need to encourage self love and self confidence not hate.