Why Alicia Keys decided to give up makeup

30 Nov 1999

Alicia Keys published a letter three years ago about her decision to stop wearing makeup. It’s poignant and revealing. And just as relevant and moving now as it was in 2016.  

She talked about that moment in every girl’s life when she decides she must change something about herself to become more ‘perfect, more ‘beautiful’, more like the girls in the magazines. That sudden desire to cover, straighten, hide, tighten, tuck. It’s a moment we all know.

After years of trying so hard to fit in and be accepted by an industry so focused on beauty, Alicia became something of a chameleon, forever changing and adapting, terrified of being discovered in her own skin. And she suddenly found that existence suffocating.

“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?

She bemoaned a culture that valued a woman’s beauty above all else. A culture that had driven her to edit herself constantly, that left her frightened to leave the house without a mask.

“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. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women.”

The result of some deep reflection and meditation on who she was in the world, and who she wanted to be, was an empowered, fierce album and a cover shoot that shifted her pespective entirely. Alica rediscovered herself, her face and her conviction. And in doing so, inspired thousands of women to do the same.

“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.”

“I hope to God it's a revolution.”

Read the full letter here: https://www.lennyletter.com/story/alicia-keys-time-to-uncover