In May 2016, Alicia Keys decided to take a stand against “the constant judgement of women” by starting the #nomakeup movement. She wanted to remind the world, especially women, that “You don’t have to be what people tell you to be.” The impact of this simple act has caused other female celebrities, such as Mila Kunis and Adele, to follow her lead.
Alicia Keys is a fifteen time Grammy award winner, actress, New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur. Throughout our lives, we have been told what beauty is, and what a successful, famous woman should look like. Therefore, it was a shock to many when Keys initiated the #nomakeup movement as it showed us a rare, bare faced, successful woman. Many others have followed this movement to simply wear makeup whenever they want to. Keys made an inspiring guest appearance on TODAY, an American morning talk show, which led to one female and two male anchors removing their makeup live. She goes on to explain that she is not opposing makeup itself, in fact she loves it:”I’m not a slave to makeup. I’m not a slave to not wearing makeup either.” She simply wants to remind people to be themselves and to stop being so “obsessed with the standard of beauty”.
The #nomakeup movement stems from an experience during a photoshoot for Keys’ new album, HERE. She arrived after going to the gym with a scarf and baseball hat on and the photographer, Paola Kudacki, claimed that she had to shoot her now: “The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!” Keys explained that she wanted the photos to be real, but not that real! However, upon seeing the exposed photos, she said it was the “most empowered and free I had ever felt”. The chorus of , ‘Girl Can’t Be Herself’, a song on the album, exemplifies her feelings towards female empowerment: “Who says I must conceal what I’m made of.When a girl can’t be herself no more, I just wanna cry for the world. ”
In May, Keys wrote an article for Lena Dunham’s newsletter LENNY entitled ‘Time to Uncover’ explaining the decision. “I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon.” It has been argued that when people wear makeup, they lose an element of their true selves. However, makeup also has the power to reveal a concealed element of your personality through the form of a bold lip or, in my case, bucket loads of highlighter. As Keys explains “Makeup can be self expression.” Whether that’s choosing to wear makeup or wearing none at all, they are equal forms: “Whatever mode of expression that empowers you, that’s what you should do.” In a BBC interview, Keys reiterates that she is not against makeup in any way. She just wants everyone, especially her two sons, to “see a variety of what people, particularly women, look like”. She hopes to encourage women to explore different ways to feel comfortable, be that with and without makeup.
Keys’ empowering movement has caused other big name celebrities to follow her as she explains “I am all about a woman’s right to choose”. On the cover of Glamour’s August issue, Mila Kunis sported a bare-faced look. She explained that she doesn’t usually wear makeup and does not wash her hair everyday so felt that this was a more honest depiction of herself. Kunis also expressed her hatred for Photoshop: “You wanted my name, and then you wanted the version of me that I’m not. I absolutely hate it.” Brie Larson has also shown support for the movement by Instagramming a photo of her attending the Maui Film Festival in 2013 without makeup. She wasn’t a big enough name to qualify for a ‘glam squad’ so wore her own dress and put on a bit of mascara. In the caption, she explains that when she sees the photo now, she admires and loves this form of herself: “She is honest and beautiful and committed to showing up for this life.” She goes on to reiterate Keys’ sentiments about self-love: “There is no need to waste your time working to be anything other than you.”
Other female celebrities, like Adele, have also uploaded photos of themselves without makeup to Instagram. However, Adele does not explain her lack of makeup or address Keys’ #nomakeup movement in her captions. In a way, I find this to be just as powerful as Keys going without makeup to red carpet events. Adele is showing her bare face to over 23 million of her followers and does not have a ’cause’ to justify it. As much as I applaud Keys for wearing no makeup, she is a naturally beautiful woman so the removal could, arguably, be easier for her than it is for extremely insecure others.
It makes me sad to know that not wearing makeup has such a significant impact. Why is it such a ‘brave’ action to go makeup free? Keys was initiating the #nomakeup movement when she went bare faced. However, do I have to be making a statement if I go out for dinner without makeup on? Surely, I can just be a makeup free me for now and wear makeup when I feel like it. Regarding #nomakeup, Keys said, and I agree: “I hope to God its a revolution.”