Alicia Keys: going makeup-free challenges the ‘collective consciousness’


Alicia Keys covers the new issue of V Magazine to promote her new album, HERE, her first in four years. As I’ve said before, I’m not really feeling anything about or around Alicia these days. It’s mostly because of her private life and how she whitewashed everything around Swizz Beatz, her husband. Incidentally, did you hear that Alicia makes references to Swizz’s ex-wife Mashonda Tifrere on this new album? There’s a song called “Blended Family” and there’s a shout-out to Mashonda, who openly accused Alicia of being “the other woman” in the breakdown of Swizz and Mashonda’s marriage. Anyway, Alicia doesn’t want to talk about that in this interview. She’d rather keep talking about going “makeup free” and sh-t.

Her motivation to stop wearing makeup: “I think that it’s definitely tricky being a woman. You go to work, and it’s like, if you don’t put on makeup that day people say, ‘Oh, you look so tired!’”

Going without makeup isn’t just controversial for celebrities: “It’s not only the entertainment industry, it’s not only the film industry, it’s not only the fashion industry, it’s not only every job that anyone works at or every magazine that everyone has read, it’s a collective consciousness.”

Every woman has natural beauty, thus no makeup: “There’s nothing you could do to take away this unbelievably innate beauty that lives inside of you as a woman because we are the most spectacular creatures that were ever created. The most incredible thing is that all women are beautiful.”

This album moves into civil rights: “[Everyone] deserves to have the right to do what everybody else does and to have the same opportunities to get where everyone else is going. How we speak to each other and how we treat each other should always be done with a certain amount of respect—the same respect that we want to be treated with. We all deserve that and I think our kids deserve it.”

The social divides in America: “There’s definitely an imbalance and I think that we’re all feeling that imbalance, to be honest.” Music, for her, is one way to close that gap. “I love how much we all can identify with music whether we’re artists or just working at the post office, music is our life.”

[From V Magazine]

I’ve never really had strong feelings about makeup or not wearing makeup, because… just my opinion, there are more important things to worry about. But I was genuinely surprised to see that Alicia’s no-makeup thing actually struck a chord with some people and actually got some backlash with other people. She actually did do something important, I guess, which is open up the conversation about the expectations we put on women and their public appearance. And in that particular instance, she’s right: it’s a collective consciousness, how we judge women for not wearing makeup, because they aren’t looking “done” or “professional” or whatever. I don’t know, maybe I’m giving her too much credit.


Photos courtesy of V Magazine.

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41 Responses to “Alicia Keys: going makeup-free challenges the ‘collective consciousness’”

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  1. milla says:

    she is amazing and so smart. one of few famous people who can be a role model.

    WTF is SJP wearing on that link???? OT, but still…

  2. Tough Cookie says:

    “it’s a collective consciousness”

    ugh. I just can’t with this

      • Nicole says:

        I did not even read, because it sounds like some self righteous hooey. I have never felt I had to wear make up. No one will tell me what to do with my face or skin, but me.

      • V4Real says:

        Thanks Q I was just thinking the same thing. Even though she says make-up free she is wearing some form of make-up. I don’t care if it’s only powder, it’s still make-up. She has to have powder or something on her face due to the lighting when she’s filming “The Voice.” Please Alicia you’re not doing anything groundbreaking. We see some celebs without make-up when their caught by the paps off guard. Some look fine while others don’t fair as well. Though sometimes I think it’s just the way the pic is taken. I’ve seen Berry, Biel, Garner, Beyoncé, and Theron without make-up and they don’t look to shabby unless it’s a bad camera angle which could happen to any of us.

        Lately she talks so much about going make-up free it makes it seems as if she is fishing for compliments. It seems as if she wants people to say oh you’re so beautiful you don’t need make-up or you’re so pretty without make-up. She can speak for the people in her line of work but not for the everyday woman who is not a celebrity.

        I don’t wear make-up to work and no one says I look tired. I look fine, unless I’m hung over LOL. I even go out sometimes without make-up and still get approached by men as well as compliment from people at my job. If someone finds you attractive they will with or without the clown mask. I get that some women look so much better with makeup but all it is supposed to do is enhance the beauty you already own, not make you look like a completely different person. In my prior work position I used to wear make-up almost everyday. It’s a blessing for me to not have to throw that stuff on my face unless I really want to.

      • Victoria1 says:

        Thank you, she’s totally fishing and trying to start a movement? Just stop preaching and be sincere about it. People do what they want. If you want to go makeup free, then fine do it but stop making it your sole thing and powder counts as makeup as using eyebrow pencil to make freckles darker. I’m currently hangry and tired of this chick being all self righteous.

      • Tanakasan says:

        Miley Cyrus exposed her months ago. Miley said she does her own make-up while Alicia has an make-up artist for the show whilst being “bare-faced.”

      • LoveIsBlynd says:

        It’s more a make up “trend”, and like most styles that oppose the status quo, it’s gained a certain amount of attention. I have been super annoyed by the Kardashian “glam squad” as the new normal- fake lashes, tons of cake-up, fake hair, facial and bodily implants, all designer clothes, etc. I’m personally rebelling against the “purchased beauty” of plastic surgery, cosmetics and trendy clothes. Beauty is as beauty does, and a person is as charismatic as their positivity, talent, integrity, social activism and verve. So while I don’t feel Alicia Keyes is “starting” a revolution in self-esteem, her whole thing may be symptomatic of a cultural transformation into something more sustainable and “real”.

    • mbh12 says:

      She is beautiful and imo looks almost the same with or without makeup. She is stunning, but she does come off a bit preachy.

      I saw her on a International tv show in Europe last year and she was sort of rude . I was surprised by her because I do like her and was disappointed the way she behaved.

  3. Ellie says:

    Good for her if she doesn’t want to wear makeup, she shouldn’t have to. And I don’t feel anti-feminist or like I’m bowing for the patriarchy or whatever because I do want to. To each their own. But I really hope this isn’t the only thing she ever talks about forevermore. Every time I see a story or interview with her, I already know what the subject will be before I watch it.

  4. freebunny says:

    Sure, cause she’s the only woman going makeup-free.
    I do most of the time and I don’t feel like I’m challenging anything.
    But celebs need something to revolt against, even if it’s totally random.

    • Ellie says:

      Yes I think that’s it. It’s exhausting.

      • Dids says:

        I was about to write the same thing. I never liked wearing make up, so I never wore any. And I dont feel like a rebel. Nobody ever told me it was a big deal.
        If I’d known… Please give me a medal or something!

    • swak says:

      Most make up I ever wore was blush, mascara and maybe liner. After a while I stopped. I don’t see it as rebellious.

    • Pandy says:

      Right? Wow, such an innovator! Except she is still wearing make up, so FAIL.

    • Locke Lamora says:

      You are not a singer or an actress though. She is one of the very few women in the entertainment bussiness who does. It is challenging for her.

      I don’t wear much makeup either, but just because it’s easy for me doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or brave for someone else.

    • supposedtobeworking says:

      I’m a lecturer at a university. There are 8 of us on faculty, 6 are women, all under the age of 55, 3 under the age of 45. Only 1 wears makeup. We have an ultra marathoner, a part-time dancer/actor, a long distance cyclist, one I don’t know well enough to know what her outside interests are but she’s funky and amazing, and 2 of us who have kids taking up most of our after-work time. The cyclist is the make-up wearer. It’s never been an issue, or a topic of conversation, but I have noticed it and thought it was kind of cool. But we also refrain from making statements about it to people who tour our building ; )

      • LoveIsBlynd says:

        I feel this illustrates the direction women can take regarding external presentation- it should be fluid and a non-issue. For myself, it’s mood and time based;if I have the time and I’m in the mood to “get my goddess on” then I go all out with accoutrement. If it’s a time factor or I want my skin to breathe I go au natural. My self esteem isn’t’ hinged on complying with a cultural trend of cosmetic use; I also reserve the right to fall into a corporate trend and be good with that! Cosmetic use doesn’t define my humanity!

  5. Squiggisbig says:

    I would be more into this no makeup thing as it didn’t strike me as a new image she is trying to put out to counter all of the bad things people think about her personal life (and more importantly the effect of that ok her album sales). Also her skin care routine is almost $1,000 🙄

    • Cali says:

      I’m glad people are seeing through her BS, this is a last ditch effort to save her failing career that’s due to her Turning OFF her fan main base.

  6. jerkface says:

    I often go without makeup in public but its because Im too lazy to care what people may infer from my splotchy face. I’m usually saying or doing something awkward or questionable and concealer won’t fix that issue so what do I care? Plus the “I’m not here for your pleasure” mentality really kicked in hard for me in my early 30’s. That and I moved to a small town where the population is all 60+ year olds and they can’t see me well from far away so that is a PLUS in a lot of ways. Except for when they are driving. Thats just living in the danger zone then.

  7. Sunsetsnow says:

    Here she goes again. No one cares! Find something with a little more substance to draw attention to.

  8. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    Alicia just takes herself so effing seriously. Annoying.

  9. Cali says:

    And yes you ARE giving this fraud too much credit. I love that you called her out for not talking about sleeping with a very married dude who then left his wife to be with her. Which is my biggest problem with her! She built her fan base promoting GIRL POWER when she doesn’t care about girls at all if she wants something, has an interest in it, then she’ll use her power.

  10. Jezza says:

    Going makeup free may be some kind of revelation/revolution to her, but a lot of the women I know go make-up free a lot of the time. Has nothing to do with making a statement, but everything to do with time constraints or just not wanting to bother for a quick grocery run or to run a few errands. Lucky for me I’m a nurse – I don’t need to look good as I wipe a patient’s ass!! I can get away with no makeup! LOL

  11. Anilehcim says:

    So over this being a topic that is always being discussed. In Alicia’s position, yes, it is brave. In the real world, I find that 95% of the women that I know don’t wear a stitch of makeup unless they’re going to an event or somewhere special. Personally, I love it and wear it daily. I will wear mascara until the day I die and I’m not about to make apologies for that. Topics like this annoy me because the person touting their makeup free “liberation” is always trying to pass it off as a way to empower women, but this is a topic that gets heated quickly and tends to involve women tearing each other down. Maybe it’s just me, but the fastest I’ve ever seen a woman judge another woman was for the makeup she had on her face, or the fact that she was even wearing makeup. There is a legion of women out there who actually say things like, “makeup is for ugly women” or “look at that whore makeup on her face” “she looks like a clown” “who is she trying to impress? she must be so insecure”

    I have NEVER met a woman who wears makeup who judged women who choose to go makeup free, and this includes my friends who are makeup artists and go bold with their makeup on a daily basis. Conversely, the women I know who don’t wear makeup are often super judgmental of women who do.

    This is just like those articles that talk about whether or not women “should” shave their pubic hair. Live and let live. Do whatever you want to do, but spare me the BS about how you’re starting a movement or liberating anyone. Women get pinned against each other enough without adding more crap into the mix.

  12. Sally Tomato says:

    I never used to care about make-up because I’m lazy, but in my late 30s I developed rosacea II. I wouldn’t go in public without layers of makeup out of sheer embarrassment. If you can go make-up free then by all means do it. But I doubt she’d be doing this if her face was covered with pustules.

  13. Bootsie says:

    Yes! Same. In my general experience women who wear make up don’t tend to judge those who don’t wear it. Meanwhile those who don’t wear it do seem to judge those who do – it seems to be because they either believe they don’t need it and feel superior to those who do, or they think women who do wear it are shallow and also feel superior to them. Just general experience though…of course

  14. Mick says:

    I dont get it – someone up there said she should find more important things to talk about. She actually does, listen to her album. It is the media that cant let go of that make up thing. She has said before that it has gotten more attention than she had intended.
    Take a look at Mashondas instagram. She actually promoted “Blended family” herself.

  15. Emily C. says:

    I don’t wear makeup. Where and when I grew up, makeup was rarely used, and when it was, the “natural look” was in.

    When I moved to NYC, this was even more true. Wearing makeup on the upper west side of Manhattan? Not really done, at least not every day.

    Then I moved to the South, where women supposedly wear tons of makeup all the time and… nope. Older women wear more, but for younger women (like, under 50), wearing or not wearing makeup is like wearing or not wearing a skirt. No-one cares who isn’t a creepy weirdo, like those guys who stand on streetcorners shouting you’ll go to hell for voting for Obama.

    Obviously it’s different in Hollywood and among celebrities generally. And she has every right to speak out about things that affect her, whether they affect everyone else or not. Though I will point out: Disney required their female employees just in their mall stores to wear makeup not very long ago. I don’t know if that’s still true, but it would not surprise me. So middle-class women might have the privilege of not caring about makeup, but I’m not so sure upper-class OR working-class women do so much.

    I think that maybe Hollywood/celebrity culture is going through the growing pains of becoming slightly more “normal” when it comes to women, thanks to women standing up for themselves in large ways and small. For instance, all the women publicly leaving their husband for being abusive. Rich celebrity men have been taught they can have everything and do anything they like to anyone, and rich celebrity women are saying “no” in large numbers for the first time. That matters.

  16. InsertNameHere says:

    A large part of the feminist aspect of this issue deals with the costs involved with purchasing and wearing makeup. It’s an expense that, for the most part, only women are expected to make. Not wearing makeup is about more than just the natural look – it’s an economic protest as well.

    This does NOT mean that you’re anti-feminist if you wear makeup. If you love your cosmetics, more power to you. If you don’t, that’s cool too.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I think she’s overestimating the importance of her face to the fate of the world.

  18. karen2 says:

    …I remember being quite surprised one day when a work colleague commented on the fact that I didnt wear make up…she on the other hand had the full warpaint on every day which, also surprisingly, antagonised some of the male co-workers…if Alicias bubble is that shes being a freedom fighter by not wearing make-up then good luck to her lol…