Alicia Keys wearing make-up is not the Alicia Keys we’ve been used to of late, given the singer has famously not been seen wearing cosmetics since spring last year, when she spoke out on the pressure many women face to present a perfect version of themselves at all times.
So her latest photo shoot may initially be a shock to some, presenting as it does an Alicia Keys with sweeps of black eyeliner and striking pops of colourful eyeshadow.
However the star has always maintained that her stance is focused on choice, not on being “anti” make-up – and in an accompanying interview with Allure magazine, explains perfectly that she (and indeed anyone else) can bloody well do what she wants when it comes to beauty products.
“I’m not a slave to make-up. I’m not a slave to not wearing make-up either. I get to choose at [any] given moment. That’s my right.”
Read more: The secret to Alicia Keys’ clear complexion
Keys has made a point of not wearing make-up both ‘off-duty’ and when appearing on stage or TV – the attention her decision generated standing testament to the rarity of a woman in the public eye doing so – and wrote a powerful essay in May last year explaining she didn’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.”
And in the latest interview, alongside pictures of her both with and without a made-up face, she said her years in showbusiness had contributed to her decision, especially as having to wear so much make-up left her skin prone to spots.
“I started at 20 years old in this ridiculously invasive world [the music business] in which everyone covered me in makeup and then threw me under tons of lights, so I’d sweat for two or three hours,” she says.
“It took me so long to finally say, ‘Whoa!’” she says. “Who am I under there? That is just my own personal quest.”
And as a personal quest, she says it’s not about shaming anyone else, it’s about combating “this ridiculously high, unrealistic expectation about appearance that we as women are held to.”
Read more: Disney princesses without make-up
While it may seem like a stance somewhat easier for someone with as clear a complexion as Keys to take, she’s described in the past how she struggled with skin problems for years before changing her diet, while her make-up artist has also revealed the face masks and natural tricks they use to achieve her flawless look.
While one might argue that completely blemish-free skin also contributes to the idea of perfection, she’s been at pains to stress that her own view on not wearing make-up is about people feeling free to do what they want, saying in a previous interview: “It’s about what makes you comfortable and about also being able to explore different versions of what makes you comfortable.”
Read the full interview at allure.com.
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Main image: Rex Features