Alicia Keys chose to not wear makeup in her publicity photos for her new album and its lead single, ‘In Common.’ In a powerful essay she explains the decision and how the photo shoot came about and why she felt her “strongest” and “most empowered.”
Let’s face it. Posing without makeup is attention getting. Countless celebrities have done so, and cut through the clutter of news and gossip as the images go viral and making the ensuing discussion sure bet. Even an Instagram pic will do the trick.
So just imagine a publicity photo for a long awaited album from a major artist who boasts a 15 Grammy Awards. Well, in other words, stop the presses! After all, with publicity pics, we typically have that other discussion — Photoshopping. A person is made much thinner or much lighter in complexion or wrinkles are magically erased. But as you can see below, this is no that photo-retuouching discussion.
The artist in question is Alicia Keys whose sixth album, ‘In Common’ is long awaited, and any updates on that album would make headlines. Now all the more so. In an essay she penned for Lena Dunham’s ‘Lenny’s Letter’ — the ever popular venue for major declarations — she opened up about her decision.
She said, “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.”
She goes on to reveal that she addresses that very topic in one of the songs on the album. The title pretty much sums up the pain and the struggle: “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself.”
It was this very song, she goes on to explain, that came to mind at the photo shoot for these now viral photos.
She said, “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!’”
Confessing that initially her photographer’s suggestion left her feeling “nervous” and “shocked,” she agreed to it, and said, “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.”
Continuing, she added, “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!”
Sadly in this day and age, not wearing makeup has become such a courageous act, but a necessary one. To take a stand against the stringent standards of beauty that lead to comparisons that often lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy.
There’s much more, and you can see Alicia Keys’ full essay at Lenny’s Letter here. She eloquently explores these issues and the struggle while offering words of empowerment and encouragement. You can see the photos below.