Why Does It Matter That Alicia Keys and Alessia Cara Didn’t Wear Makeup to the VMA’s?

I didn’t actually watch MTV’s Video Music Awards last night. I don’t really care about them – I pretty much only listen to NPR and the local classical station. Also, I don’t have cable (yes, I have been called a hipster, why do you ask?). So, why do I feel the need to comment on this if I didn’t watch the show and I don’t really listen to their music? Good question.

Prior to this past Saturday, I’d never heard anything by Alessia Cara. I’m told that a few of her songs are popular on the radio right now, but my first experience with her was as an opening act for Coldplay on their A Head Full of Dreams Tour; an event that I am beyond blessed to have been able to attend (Coldplay is my favorite band). I really liked her sound, but more than that was her message and her voice at such a young age (she’s only 20). She seemed so wise and strong. I also noticed that, not only was she in a t-shirt and jeans with her hair pulled back with a headband, she didn’t have on any makeup. That surprised and pleased me. It was so refreshing to see someone performing at a popular event sans makeup. I felt that I was able to just focus on her talents and projected personality more.

Photo: Getty Images for MTV

Alicia Keys, on the other hand, is an amazingly talented popular musical artist who’s been around for awhile, blessing the world with her strong, soulful voice. I remember listening to her early Christmas morning 16 years ago because why not? I first noticed that she wasn’t wearing makeup anymore when she performed at the Democratic National Convention.

Photo: FilmMagic

But why does it matter that these women aren’t wearing makeup? Why was it all over my Facebook feed this morning?

Answer: Because even during these times of social consciousness and enlightenment, it’s still not the “norm” to be at such a public event fresh-faced. People are calling both women “brave” and “strong” for going out without makeup.

Here’s the deal: while each woman (and every woman everywhere that doesn’t wear makeup) is brave and strong in their own right, the personal choice to not wear it doesn’t make you either. It simply means that you made a conscious decision not to put makeup on. Their personal decisions not to don works of cosmetic art is not some commentary on the “frivolity and superficiality of the makeup industry and those that buy into it.”* Ms. Keys even posted on her Twitter: “Y’all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn’t mean I’m anti-makeup. Do you!”

In Conclusion: There is nothing wrong with not wearing makeup (to an event), and it’s sad that such a thing is even newsworthy or considered “brave” or “shocking”. On the flip-side, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to wear makeup (to an event or otherwise), and it doesn’t mean you’re frivolous, superficial, or insecure.

As Alicia said, “Do you!”



*I do not feel this way about cosmetics or the cosmetics industry; it was just an exaggerated way to get my point across.

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