In a powerful and very candid new essay, Alicia Keys has revealed the insecurities that plagued her for the greater part of her career. The 35-year-old singer explained that she felt she was "not good enough for the world to see," which led her to hide behind makeup and her music, until a recent photoshoot where she went makeup free left her feeling empowered.
In the essay for Lenny Letter, Alicia admitted that being in the spotlight often meant that she felt under heavy scrutiny if she stepped out without wearing make-up, confessing that "the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment" was her "biggest test yet".
"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???" she wrote. "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."
However, the Girl on Fire hitmaker revealed that her outlook changed recently when she headed for a photoshoot for the artwork of her upcoming album – and that photographer Paola Kudacki insisted on taking photos of Alicia when she was completely make-up free.
Alicia wrote: "I'd just come from the gym, had a scarf under my baseball cap, and the beautiful photographer Paola (never met a Paola I didn't like) said, 'I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!' And that was it. She started to shoot me."
Posing in front of a plain white background, Alicia admitted that it was "the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt."
The If I Ain't Got You singer added that she was also inspired by the reaction of her fans, including her 5.8 million Instagram followers, many of whom celebrated her make-up free photos with their own selfies.
"Once the photo I took with Paola came out as the artwork for my new song In Common, it was that truth that resonated with others who posted #nomakeup selfies in response to this real and raw me," Alicia explained, revealing she hoped it would launch "a revolution".