Beauty

“It’s sad that girls can’t be themselves”: Alicia Keys on impossible beauty standards

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Harriet Hall
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Earlier this year singer, Alicia Keys, was praised by women for declaring a ‘no make-up revolution,’ and writing a powerful piece in Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter, explaining her decision to embrace her natural look.

Now, Keys has spoken out in an interview with the BBC, about how the decision represents so much more than beauty.

Speaking in an interview with Babita Sharma about for the broadcaster’s 100 Women season, the singer explained how make-up caused her to feel insecure.



“I was becoming very overly concerned with other people’s opinions’ of me to the point where I’d be freaked out leaving the house without makeup on,” she says.

The singer highlighted the double-standards that women face in society, saying that: “As women and girls, from the second we are born - before we even come out - there are all these images and expectations and particular pressures that are made to make us to think this is what beauty is, or this is what a women is or this is what a successful women is.”

Keys explains that she doesn’t want to stop everyone wearing make-up, or suggest there is only one ‘right way,’ but that seeing a variety of choices is the answer to erasing impossible beauty standards.

Alicia Keys has gone make-up free

Alicia Keys has gone make-up free

“It’s not about makeup or no makeup, it’s about what makes you comfortable and about also being able to explore different versions of what makes you comfortable,” she says.

“Even for myself, when I want to wear makeup that’s my choice, and I can totally wear makeup, and no one should be able to say “didn’t you say you were never going to wear makeup”. No, that’s not what I was saying.”



Keys believes that society’s pressures mean young women and girls feel they can’t be themselves, constantly changing to please others. Comparing this to the US election, she says:

“It’s sad, that girls can’t be themselves. It’s sad that through this whole election process in America, because Hilary was so strong and tough, how much unnecessary things were said about her being a women. We as women can be anyway we can, and it is sad when you can’t be yourself. And that’s a problem with girls all over the world. There’s so much oppression for women, and there’s so much unequal opportunities.”

She didn’t hold back on her views of the President elect, either, saying:

“I’m disappointed that so much hateful rhetoric and sexism and bigotry and racial slurs and intolerance would be rewarded with a presidency.”

Watch the interview here or on BBC iPlayer.

Images: Rex Features