Alicia Keys did something at the VMAs that the world is finding unforgivable. No, she didn’t kick a puppy or try to snatch Rihanna’s Vanguard award and put it in her purse.
What did she do that people find completely horrifying? She didn’t put on any makeup. And I’m telling you, people are MAD.
On the show Sunday night, Keys honored Martin Luther King, Jr. by reciting a poem calling for an end of the divisiveness that is plaguing our country, and then broke into a beautiful a cappella song. She received a standing ovation and many in the audience were clearly moved to tears.
Yet, inexplicably, all anyone could talk about was her makeup. Or rather the lack of it.
Even though she looked positively glowing and gorgeous, the Twitterverse didn’t like the fact that Keys ditched her mascara and they came after her with so much venom that she had to fire off a post in her own defense.
“Y'all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn't mean I'm anti-makeup. Do you!” she tweeted, along with a picture of herself blowing kisses.
While some sad, mean people made harsh comments about her look, some took it upon themselves to give her makeup advice. “Fill in the brows and a little bit of tinted lip balm,” one person wrote, obviously unaware that she was trying to give beauty advice to ALICIA FUCKING KEYS.
To me, she was perfect. Her natural beauty gave me somewhere to rest my eyes among all the heavily made-up faces and overdone, trying-too-hard facades. It was like listening to annoying waves of static on your radio and then suddenly coming across the sweet melody of your favorite song. (Insert humming of "If I Ain’t Got You.")
"I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."
Keys, a mother of two who championed the #NoMakeupMovement on Instagram this past summer, didn’t go without makeup only at the VMAs—she has also been appearing on "The Voice," magazine covers and the BET awards makeup-free. And while the trolls have come at her at every turn, the singer just continues to turn the other (perfectly flawless, dewy) cheek.
Addressing the intense pressure that women feel to focus on their looks, Keys wrote about embracing her natural self in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter earlier this year. In an essay titled, "Time to Uncover," Keys talks about the message she wanted to convey.
“Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of,” she wrote. “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.”
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While being photographed for the first time without her makeup, Keys came to a realization that would put her on a new path. "I felt powerful because my initial intentions realized themselves," she says. "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!"
“I hope to God it's a revolution. 'Cause I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”
Amen, Alicia Keys. You do you.