Editor: Miles Holder l Photographer: Zoltan Tombor @ SeenManagement
I read a couple of articles on Alicia Keys this week that inspired me and made me feel even more comfortable in my skin. I hope more people read them. One was in Fault magazine, but the letter in Lenny Letter Magazine moved me. It was about her decision to no longer wear makeup. Please read it here.
Here is an excerpt from the letter:
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 constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you're plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.
I wear little make-up. Occasionally eyeliner, mascara and a light lip gloss when I go to work. Foundation on my face when I go to events where I know I will be filmed, photographed or where I am presenting. It is a social must, but, normally, I am makeup-less. Growing up in a Pentecostal church makeup wasn't really allowed. From the perspective of the church, makeup was worn for temptation reasons and could lead to sin. I'm older now. The rules of church are more relaxed and anyways, I no longer attend church, but I continued to wear little to no makeup. Partly out of habit, but mostly there was a deep part of me that did not want to. Makeup made me feel like I was hiding. It is another thing that trap women, no, people, into a world that really does not exist and I did not want to be part of that world. I did not want to pretend.
It has been difficult growing up around women who look amazing with colorful lips, highlighted eyes and rosy cheeks. It is even more challenging seeing men seemingly more attracted to the made up faces than my more natural state, but, even though I could have made my life easier and been more accepted with MAC or Maybelline cosmetics, it wasn't me. It is not me. Those colors that women adorned on their faces, lived inside of me. Maybe not as easily seen, but there none the less. We have gotten lazy and no longer take the time to look at the souls. Our focus on the outer shell makes us miss so much.
I am not condemning makeup or things that enhance our beauty. I've seen master pieces that makeup artists have created on faces. It is not different than me painting a canvas, expressing myself. But most of us do not use makeup to enhance or express or create. We use it to hide physical features that society have deemed imperfect or not beautiful.
We are asked to wear so many mask in this world. As a black woman the masks are many and are heavy. I believe Alicia Keys knows this more than many of us and I am proud of her for removing one more. Even if it is for one year or one day. I am proud of her. I think the biggest thing to know is this. Makeup does not make you. Even when you wear it, know, that it is not making you beautiful. You already are that. Know that you do not need it to leave your home and be presentable. You do not need it to catch a mate. You do not need it to take your selfie. You need nothing but to be you. Once you know that fully, wear what you like, when you like and how you like. Or don't. Either way, stand in your truth.