Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys covers the February issue of Allure and opens up about her political views, women’s rights and her decision to be makeup-free, and being a “lioness” for her two sons – Egypt, 6, and Genesis, 2 – with husband Swizz Beatz.
On her decision to be makeup-free: “I started at 20 years old in this ridiculously invasive world [the music business] in which everyone covered me in makeup and then threw me under tons of lights, so I’d sweat for two or three hours….It took me so long to finally say, ‘Whoa!’ Who am I under there? That is just my own personal quest.”
On inner beauty: “I think there’s something really beautiful about what resonates from within us. One thing I’ve heard more than ever is this glow that people refer to that I have. I kind of recognize that glow because I’ve begun to listen to myself inside. And I think there’s something really powerful that happens when you start to listen to yourself. It makes you feel more aware. In touch. More confident. I’m not more confident because I think I’m better than, but because I’ve been hearing myself more, listening to myself more. And that’s taken a little minute to arrive at that place. But there’s definitely something powerful about the way your inner feels that reflects on the outer, on your skin. That, to me, is real beauty.”
On women’s rights: “I am all about a woman’s right to choose. I think a woman should do anything she wants as it relates to her face, her body, her health. Whatever mode of expression that empowers you, that’s what you should do. What I am not down for is this ridiculously high, unrealistic expectation about appearance that we as women are held to.”
On what annoys her: “One of the big ones is that I was so sick of the way women were forced to feel inadequate in many different circumstances or forced to feel insecure by the way we’re portrayed or the way we look. Another one: I am so annoyed at the way we force boys to be fake strong—don’t cry, don’t be soft. Let a boy be able to dance! Let a boy paint his nails. So a boy wants to paint his nails. Who cares! All these strange, oppressive ideas.”
On her political views: “The We Are Here Movement [a wide-ranging social-justice organization founded by Keys] will stand in support of Hispanics, refugees, people of color, Muslims, and anyone who feels afraid in the upcoming Trump era. I have a hope that President Trump, as a New Yorker, will have more liberal views than his campaign rhetoric suggests and that in the end our system of justice will prevail. But it does hurt that racism was not a deal breaker for millions in the election. However, as an artist, I expect to continue to use my voice for things that matter, as I have since the beginning of my career. That won’t change. As an activist, I will continue to fight for what’s right. That won’t change, either. It’s time for all of us to be engaged. As a mother, I am a lioness.”
On mean people: “You know what would be really cool? If we stopped offering our opinion unless asked. If nobody asked you, keep your mouth shut! Like with the Internet? That’s just too much opinion. People are mean. It’s a sickness.”
For more from Alicia, go to Allure…