I Don't Give a Crap If Alicia Keys Wore Makeup at the VMAs

In case you hadn't heard, Alicia Keys slayed at last night's Video Music Awards, performing a cappella and reciting a poem about equality that was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. And despite both of those powerful performances, the one thing people chose to focus on was what was -- or wasn't -- on the Grammy-winning singer's face.


And weirdly, though Keys walked the red carpet and performed sans makeup, the world didn't implode, the glaciers didn't melt, and, as far as I know, there were no cataclysmic tsunamis triggered that would destroy all womankind because one female went to a red carpet event without foundation, liner, and powder slathered on her face.

It shouldn't be weird -- or even newsworthy, really -- except that it is. But why?

Maybe it's our voyeuristic tendencies that make it a big deal. The part of us that gawps at the grocery store tabloids when they have a "Stars Without Makeup" cover. 

Odds are, it's a picture of Kelly Ripa coming from the gym (because, of course) or J-Lo running around the city. Like normal people do every day. Except their trip to the dry cleaners is sold and published and circulated around every dusty corner of the Internet. It's patronizing AF for some magazine to say that a star is looking "bedraggled" or "tired" just because she didn't spend hours getting made over by a professional makeup artist.

It implies that as a woman, your value is in the way you look, and you can only look beautiful with 100 layers of mascara on your lashes.

And maybe, when we're looking at these pictures, some deep, dark part inside of us smirks, thinking that some sort of power was gained or lost in the grocery store aisle transaction. That somehow, in our yoga pants and sweatshirts, we at least managed to throw on lip gloss before heading out to face the day. 

More from CafeMom: I Tried It: I Went Makeup Free for a Week

Let’s get one thing straight -- I love makeup. I write about makeup as part of my job. Some of my earliest memories involve my getting into my mom's Mary Kay stash and playing with all of the samples (oops, sorry, Mom!). My daily office uniform is usually some BB cream, bronzer, eyebrow cream, a swish of coppery eyeshadow, and a bold lip. I don't feel like myself without it -- and I think that's exactly the point Keys is trying to make.

I can't tell you the hours of sleep I've lost wrangling my curly hair into more Instagram-friendly waves, or the amount I've invested to keep my skin dewy, yet shine-free (something that will probably drive you mad should you choose to adapt that look; I don't recommend it).

The point is, I can't even take my trash out without feeling somehow exposed if I didn't fill in my eyebrows. But appearing at red carpet events bare-faced, while awesome, shouldn't be praised as the best thing Alicia Keys has ever done.

She wrote in Lenny Letter earlier this year that she was done feeling the perceived shame of not wearing makeup. "I don't want to cover up anymore," she wrote. "Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."

And beyond making a statement that it's okay -- and empowering -- to be your true self, it's not bashing women who choose to wear a full face of makeup. Because like anything else, your look should be about choice, not about societal norms that someone tells you are beautiful.

I say, if you don't want to wear makeup, then don't (but still slather on that sunscreen!). If you still want to buy those tabloids, God bless, but remember that we as women are all in this together.

Beauty should never be a competition or some sort of mascara-fueled rivalry. The reason I wear a bright coral lipstick should be because it makes me feel beautiful, not because I know it'll get me more likes on Instagram, or because I'm afraid of the world's seeing me without my warpaint on.

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So, no, Alicia Keys isn't brave for walking on the red carpet without makeup, but she is brave for the reasons behind it -- for standing up for herself, for owning her look, and for being unabashedly unafraid to be a role model for young girls and women everywhere. 

And let's not talk about the amount of time she saved not getting her makeup done -- that's time she might have spent with her sons and husband, writing the next Grammy-winning song, or just plain sleeping.

Hey, you deserve it, Alicia. 


Images via Splash News

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