Alicia Keys is all over the place right now for her decision to go makeup free at the VMAs. In fact, she’s given up makeup altogether. Some people are applauding her bravery while others are pointing out that she’s kinda genetically blessed anyway, so is she really being brave?

alicia keys- makeup free

Genetics are definitely in her favour. She a beautiful woman. However, I don’t think that makes what she is doing any less brave.

Your Face, Your Choice.

When it comes to your face, you should do as little or as much to decorate it as you please. If you look like Alicia Keys, yeah, some might argue that you don’t really need makeup.

I will always argue that you don’t need makeup. It doesn’t matter if you look like Keys or if you more closely resemble Mrs Doubtfire; you will pretty much never actually need makeup.

Makeup is a choice. Most days, I choose not to wear it. That decision is not an example of my personal bravery. It comes down to my priorities. When I’m working, it’s generally for long hours and often overnight. If I have to choose between a little extra sleep and putting makeup on, sleep wins. Every. Single. Time. I actually really like makeup. Experimenting with different products can be fun. But it’s a nice freedom, knowing I’m not obliged to wear it every day.


Early in life, women begin to learn the way society expects them to look.  Girls are given dolls that are thin, yet shapely, dressed in clothes that are fitted to show off every unrealistically moulded curve. Their faces are perpetually smiling and made up. It wasn’t that long ago when Tasmanian artist, Sonia Singh, started taking these dolls and removing their makeup. The videos of her ‘Tree Change‘ dolls went viral for a reason; seeing a doll like this, without makeup, was revolutionary.

The pressure to conform continues into our teen years, with every image from magazines and ads through to music clips showing women who meet the beauty standards that are accepted in our society. Alicia Keys wrote about how her personal no makeup revolution came about. She talks about small yet interconnected moments in her own youth, feeling inadequate and needing to change (her hair, her face, her body) in the same endless quest for “perfection” that many of us begin as young girls. We start to conform to these ideals before we are even mature enough to grasp what we are buying into; a mind-frame where we are never quite happy with how we look.

alicia keys quote

There are some women out there, like Tess Holliday, who are already doing a beautiful job of turning beauty standards on their heads by being gorgeous while wearing bigger sizes. I don’t know of any other high-profile women ditching make up in the way that Alicia Keys is.

Celebrity Skin.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to be a woman constantly striving for perfection. It can’t be ignored, though, that female celebrities are under even more pressure to be perfect. Their looks, from makeup to their post-baby bodies are dissected in the media factors like weight and age can be actual barriers to getting work, no matter how qualified or otherwise suitable they might be. So how hard must it be to step away from the mask that makeup is, to show your face in a world where that can actually set you back?


Thanks for the advice, Patriarchy!

Makeup Free & Brave.

How many times have you flicked through a magazine in a waiting room that promises pictures of stars without makeup? Or maybe you’ve taken the online clickbait to see the same thing. The images we are normally exposed to aren’t entirely real and we know that. We love a glimpse of a bare-faced celeb to remind us that they are still people. A famous woman showing off her laugh lines or a pimple is a small reminder of her humanity.

Going without makeup, for me, is not brave. I don’t work in an industry that expects me to be made up.  My social circles are filled with people who wouldn’t even think to question my decisions around makeup. For someone like Alicia Keys, however, I can see where the courage comes in. She isn’t brave for walking around with her actual face on.

She’s brave because her decision to stop wearing make up is a political act of defiance against a society and an industry well known for telling women from childhood that they are not good enough as they are. That’s fucking brave.

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