The No Makeup Movement is Not Just about Makeup

By Manuela Domingos

Recently, Alicia Keys wrote an open letter for Lenny expressing her views on why she decided to no longer wear makeup. In it, she talks about the ongoing battle that echoes a struggle all too familiar for many women: the constant pressure to meet society’s standards of “beautiful” and to be the ideal “beautiful woman.”           

            An excerpt from Alicia’s letter reads:

            “Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn’t put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they posted it??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me.”

 On the day of her album photoshoot, Alicia walked on set makeup less, wearing a headscarf under a baseball cap, her skin aglow from the the day’s workout at the gym. She was met by an ecstatic photographer who instantaneously showered her with praise on her appearance and proceeded to capture the authenticity of her looks. The moment was empowering for Alicia, as her soul shun bare, the pores of her skin raw. At that very moment in time, she was unapologetically herself.

Thus, the #nomakeup movement began to trend on social media sites, as other women began posting pictures of themselves bare faced. As we know all too well, no unity in opinion is ever the case on the internet; other people had varied views towards the movement.

“Alicia Keys looks great without makeup.” “If I had skin like hers, I too, would not wear makeup.”

These are a few of the many voices that echoes the frustration of many. If you look great without it, then you’re easier without it: I’m different from you.

I think the issue stems deeper than makeup and differences in skin. Another person’s “makeup” might be feelings of insecurity towards her hair, just as someone else’s “makeup” might be feelings of insecurity towards her weight. Ask yourself, are you masking because you are hiding your true self, or ashamed of it?

We must see the meaning behind Alicia’s choice to stop wearing makeup as the conscious decision to free her mind from other people’s boxed perception of herself. We must see it as the choice to take control of one’s happiness. This is not necessarily a movement on deciding to “stop wearing makeup.” The movement is something much deeper than that. It is the movement of choice, breaking the shackles of narrow mindedness and choosing comfortability in one’s skin. It is not a new movement, rather it is a movement that has been around forever, a language we all often speak. It is a movement of change.

Heck, giving up makeup is probably not an option for many. Choosing to not wear makeup doesn’t necessarily mean anti-makeup. Someone who loves wearing makeup should not be judged about her choice, just as someone who decides to not wear makeup should not be judged either. In this case, this is simply a matter of personal preference.

We must begin the movement within ourselves. Whether it’s embracing the texture of our hairs, the color of our skin, the curves to our hips, or the slender to our frame, there is nothing more satisfying than embracing ourselves.

Insecurities are natural and they will always be there. But once we make the decision to embrace our authenticity, we have subconsciously started a movement within ourselves.