It was the Friday before Labor Day, and Alicia Keys, the 35-year-old pop star, was on the “Today” show performing for the program’s summer concert series — she’s about to release a new album, and she wrote the theme song for “Queen of Katwe,” out next week. There was a lot to talk about. But instead, Ms. Keys spent most of her time talking about makeup(and not wearing it) with the anchors Tamron Hall, Billy Bush and Al Roker, who were doggedly wiping the pancake off their faces.
“You’re all crazy,” said Ms. Keys, swabbing Ms. Hall’s cheeks. “This isn’t even what it’s about!”
“It” is #nomakeup — a meme, a movement, a cri de coeur — that has beenroiling social media for months. If you missed the kerfuffle, it started in May, when Ms. Keys wrote an essay for Lenny, Lena Dunham’s online magazine, about the insecurities she felt being a woman in the public eye, and the roles (and makeup) she put on over the years to armor herself. She wrote about the anxiety she endured if she left her house unadorned: “What if someone wanted a picture? What if someone posted it?” And then, when she went without makeup or styling for an album portrait, she felt liberated, and the act became a metaphor. “I hope to God it’s a revolution,” she wrote.
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