Grammy award winner Alicia Keys recently discovered she feels free and liberated without makeup, so much so that she is starting a hashtag movement to encourage women to go makeup free. But, I wasn’t sold. The news spawned an interesting and lively debate on a friends’ Facebook page where I got to piously use the word ‘vilify’(sorry Njoks).
So granted, Alicia Keys is in an industry that judges women based on the appearance, an industry that uses ‘celebs without makeup’ articles as click bait to be gleefully gobbled by sadistic fans who enjoy the knowledge that beneath the carefully crafted celebrity look is a human with bad hair days and PMS pimples. They will be sadly disappointed, Alicia Keys’ makeup free and professionally shot pictures show her fresh faced with cute freckles (see above).
The announcement attracted articles on Huffington Post, CNN and BBC. Yes, this is how amazing it is to go without makeup in 2016. Coincidentally, the In Common singer will also be releasing her latest album, so of course this is also a great way to draw some extra media milage especially at a time when fellow female singers are releasing monster jams. Think Adelle’s Hello, Beyoncés entire Lemonade and Rihanna’s Work — which topped the Billboard charts for all of nine weeks and brought solo butterfly sessions in front of mirrors back.
While I do know that addiction to makeup can be real, I also know far more regular people who eschew it for the natural look. Maybe this is just a thing many Kenyan women do. I can’t help but think of those strikingly beautiful pictures of Turkana women in traditional garb with no makeup. People have been going without makeup for centuries, the #nomakeup has also been used countless times on Instagram but it seems all it takes is a celebrity to say ‘me too’ and suddenly it is viewed as groundbreaking and trail blazing. One news company even called it a ‘revolution’ — proof of the pervasiveness of celebrity culture. Question, does it take an endorsement from Alicia Keys for one to go makeup free?
Let me state for the record that I am very makeup challenged. Whenever I start applying eyeliner the ominous opening bars of that Desiigner song start playing in my head…Panda… Panda…Panda...and after viewing the shaky results which indeed make me look Kungu Fu Pandaish, I decide to just chuck the whole thing with a cotton ball and call it a day. I also know that it’s not impossible to leave the house with just lip balm and a prayer. It can be done and it does not need a PSA.
While many people will celebrate Alicia Key’s move and say they also feel liberated and that it brings attention to the fact that women are judged by appearance, it still won’t change the fact that women are still judged by their appearance. I think it will take a lot more than going makeup free to change how society looks at and perceives women. I also hope it won’t be used as an excuse to criticise and judge those who do enjoy their fleeked brows and strobed cheeks, just let them be. And while others would argue that women spend too much on makeup, they should note that it is also one of the industries where women have been immensely successful in building brands and businesses think Toni Ko’s NYX and Suzie Wokabi’s Suzie Beauty.
To be honest, I’d rather celebrate Alicia Keys philanthropy with the Keep A Child Alive foundation, her work creating awareness about HIV and AIDs and of course the fact that she is actually just a dope artist, with or without makeup.
For more of Roberto Cornacchia’s photography visit www.robertocornacchia.com