People, people, people, can we please get off Alicia Keys and her makeup routine? Ever since she wrote a Lenny Letter last year detailing how she wanted to occasionally not wear any makeup, some people seem pretty obsessed with documenting her lack of contouring or eyeliner than just taking the 15-time Grammy winner for what she is. They are totally missing her entire point of choosing to go makeup free in the first place. Which is why Alicia Keys’ response to Adam Levine about her makeup routine is so on point. Levine was recently on The Howard Stern Show and somehow the host turned the topic of conversation to Keys, who is Levine’s co-star on The Voice.
Stern seemed perplexed about this whole no-makeup thing. “She’s making a big deal about not wearing makeup,” he said. Levine played along, telling a story about seeing Keys backstage applying a little bit of — gasp! — concealer before going on-air. Levine reportedly teased her by saying:
Keys’ response? “I do whatever the f–k I want.”
YAS. Why is that some men seem to have a really big problem with women going makeup-free? Keys wasn’t making a “big deal” about wearing no makeup. If anything it’s Stern and Levine who made Keys makeup a big deal, betraying the fact that despite all of their own success in the entertainment industry, they’re still pretty insecure about the idea of a woman making a choice that doesn’t put the male gaze first.
The conversation between the two men illustrates just how big of a deal our culture makes of a woman’s appearance. Instead of teasing or mocking Keys for “making a big deal” about it, maybe they should have read her essay about her choice in the first place. It wasn’t about not ever, ever putting on makeup, but about feeling queasy when she noticed how *important* makeup had become to her since being in the spotlight, and realizing that that just wasn’t what she was really about. The essay was about how she felt she had been “covering up” her whole life — with makeup, with clothes, with pretending to be tough when she felt vulnerable. It was about a lot more than lipliner.
Women don’t have to wear makeup. Women can (and should!) wear makeup because they want to and like to. It’s interesting that Keys’ choice to not wear eyeliner is something of a threat to Stern, who brought up Keys seemingly out of nowhere, and to Levine, who felt the need to mock her for the attention the she received for sending out a body positive message to women everywhere. In Keys’ own words from her Lenny Letter:
In simpler terms, do whatever the hell you want to do.