BREAKING! Alicia Keys Wears Makeup, Adam Levine Freaks Out

Thank you for your opinion, sir

THE VOICE -- "Battle Rounds" -- Pictured: Alicia Keys -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Hear those sirens? That’s the sound of another woman’s choices about her own body being policed! Oh, and Adam Levine is involved. Buckle your seat belts.

In an interview on Howard Stern a couple weeks ago, Stern asked Levine, “What do you make of this Alicia Keys making a big deal about not wearing makeup?”

Stern was presumably referring to the viral reaction that stemmed from an essay Keys penned for Lenny Letter entitled, “Time to Uncover.” In the essay, Keys writes about making the conscious decision to stop caring what other people think and start going bare-faced more often, or whenever the fancy strikes.

“Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of,” Keys writes. “And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect.” She goes on describe how she felt when she was photographed makeup-free for the first time: “I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt…I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”

So yes, if writing an essay with a powerful message about chipping away at female beauty standards after decades in the spotlight is considered “making a big deal about not wearing makeup,” then let’s move on to Levine’s response:

“I joked around with her — she’s, by the way, so great — she was putting on a little bit of makeup and I was like, ‘Oh, I thought Alicia doesn’t wear makeup,’ and she was like, ‘I do what the fuck I want.’”

Jezebel writer Kara Brown applauds Levine for calling Keys out: “I now HEARTILY agree with Adam Levine for pointing out that Alicia Keys’ “no makeup” look does, in fact, involve makeup…If you don’t want people pointing out your hypocrisy, maybe don’t run around acting like you’re not wearing makeup and then allow your makeup artist to give interviews detailing the makeup you put on your face.”

But hold on a second. Let’s be very clear: nowhere in Keys’ Lenny essay did she proclaim, I WILL NEVER TOUCH A DROP OF FOUNDATION AGAIN — NAY, NOT EVEN A DOT OF EYELINER NOR A SCHMEAR OF CHAPSTICK. She didn’t sign a government contract or make an unbreakable vow with Severus Snape. She merely expressed a desire to be a little less hard on herself and to stop buying into “a picture of what others seem to see as perfection.”

And beyond that, maybe two pesky white men should generally refrain from giving a woman of color flack about whether or not she’s wearing makeup on a given day? Just a suggestion.

Because sometimes Alicia keys wears makeup. And sometimes she doesn’t. Frankly I wouldn’t give a flying fig if she left her house in full Thom Browne clown makeup because it’s her body and her choice and them’s the rules.

In the next segment of their interview, Stern and Levine go on to discuss how much Behati Prinsloo’s name (as in Victoria’s Secret model and Levine’s wife) sounds like “hottie,” but that’s a think piece for another time.

Photo by NBC via Getty Images.

Get more Beauty ?
  • kjrobot

    This is why I still read Man Repeller and I quit Jezebel! Good one, Harling! Thanks for being positive, level-headed and accepting.

    • Jezebel has always made my stomach churn, even the name (if you know her story) is just no…

  • Molly D

    But he literally says he joked around with her! Sounds like joking between friends to be honest.

    • Cristina

      Oh my gosh, was typing the same thing at the same time lol

  • Cristina

    Geez. Way to take it to a whole other level. If I was Alicia’s friend, as a latina female, I would still joke with her about wearing makeup. Why does it have to be a thing? She’s stated publicly since the article she never said she’d not wear makeup ever again. And even her bare face looks amaze behind professional lighting. If I were to see Adam joking with Alicia, I wouldn’t think “oh, there goes a white man commenting about a black woman and her makeup.”

    • Molly D

      Right. Not everything has to be so political.

      • Gigi

        Agreed, and not everything has to be racial either. Getting sick of this kind of feminism (I’m a black woman by the way).

  • belle

    Stern is clearly the one at fault here, for even asking the question in the first place. Sounds like Adam tried to play it off in a casual way.

    • Harling Ross

      True–Stern is at fault for asking the question, but Adam Levine could have shut it down. So they’re both to blame, I think

      • belle

        They are, but Adam Levine is the one being demonized in clickbait headlines, including this one, for casually joking around with his friend and coworker.

        I will say, it’s total bullshit that women are held to such an unrealistic standard that if you say you aren’t going to wear full face makeup every day, you then get attacked on the internet for putting on some concealer or something. What gives?

  • SpiritAndCourage

    Can someone pinpoint when Jezebel became SO terrible? Kara Brown actually said the words “I blame Alicia entirely for getting herself into this.” in that article.

    I have no words. Ok, maybe one: Gobsmacked.

    • JK

      I hate-read Kara Brown and then hate myself for giving her awful opinions any attention.

  • Sarah Gbaguidi

    Yes but she actually stated “I don’t want to cover up anymore”, she even said “I hope to God it’s a revolution”…She didn’t say “I am just not going to wear makeup when I don’t want to from now on”. I mean she could expect some people would ask questions if she were to wear makeup again one day… Plus, Levine’s remark wasn’t rude she didn’t have to respond like that. I was shocked too when I heard she actually was wearing makeup again. I mean the girl was talking like she was launching a revolutionary movement when a lot of women haven’t been wearing makeup for years you know, and they haven’t made that much noise for that reason. Maybe in the entertainment industry it’s a big thing because you have to do shootings all the time, and not everyone looks that good everyday, so they put make up on your face, and so the photographer can adjust with the lights etc. But maybe if she had been a little smoother with this whole makeup thing her fellow-The-Voice-coach wouldn’t tease her because she is doing something she says she wouldn’t.

  • imagine if adam had to give an explanation each time he decided to grow out his beard or shave it. like shut the fuck up, dudes, SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    • ashley

      or bleached his goddam hair as a new father… yep. Stfu is right

  • Sami

    I love Man Repeller, but it really blows when you guys have to make a big deal out of literally everything. Levine was clearly joking as a friend, and Alicia clearly is gonna do what she wants. Like stop making every single comment political. This is small potatoes; there are bigger more pressing issues to talk about than celebrity gossip.

    • Harling Ross

      Hey Sami! I totally get where you’re coming from, and I won’t say that I’ve never had that same reaction. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about how if no one takes a stand about stuff like this, it’s just going to get swept under the rug–again and again and again. Because these types of comments on women’s appearances happen ALL the time, every single day. And while this comment was relatively minor, when you add up all the comments they amount to a huge stinking pile of culturally reinforced garbage that women have to carry around, sometimes without even realizing it. And that’s not minor at all. Like you said, maybe this is a small potato, but it’s one of many.

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        Exactly! Thank you!

      • Imaiya Ravichandran


      • BarbieBush

        A lot of people are ‘taking a stand’ about this though. I don’t see this article as adding anything to this conversation except to click bait liberalism.

        Also are we really going to think-piece Stern???

        • Yvonne Dunlevie

          Hello! One more thing I just wanted to point out here is that the sites in your screen shot above are much bigger sites than Man Repeller and part of Google news (Man Repeller is not yet part of Google news…it as a complicated and often expensive process…hope to get there soon!). So while Man Repeller’s commentary may not appear first in search results, it is important to cover for all the reasons Harling stated above, and we are proud to stand with the likes of Vogue, Jezebel & TeenVogue. And while it is important to add into the critical mass calling this out, unfortunately all the sites appearing above are all primarily women’s sites, and pieces written by women — only 50% of the population. <3 MR SEO nerd

      • Lil

        Agreed! Little potatoes add up.

        There’s such ridiculously high expectations for women and how they should present themselves. I wear make up sporadically and on the days that I don’t, I rarely get any unsolicited feedback from female peers. However, with my male peers it’s the exact opposite. Boys who have been wearing the same basketball shorts and hoodie all semester long will almost always quip about how tired or stressed I look when I happen to come to class bare faced…

      • Jenelle

        I completely understand about stuff like this building up and needing to address that but I still think this is a big deal over nothing. Stern asked the question and I suppose Levine could have explicitly said we have no right to comment on her appearance and ended it there. However, in my opinion, he told a funny story that essentially made that exact point. He talked about how he jokingly pointed out how she was wearing makeup and how Keys responded that she could do what she wants and that’s not really his business. Point made. At times, I think people forget that we’re all human and don’t always have perfect, reflective, well-thought out answers for every question or situation.

      • Ruby

        No one takes a stand on things like this? I don’t know what corner you hide in. You say these comments are made all the time, but no one has a clue about the context. Females are amazing and deserve all the respect in the world. Pick a better battle, one that actually has credit

  • Emily Michaelis

    wonderfully written Harling

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    That Jezebel article infuriated me. And yes – two white dudes wagging their fingers at a WOC about what she chooses to do with her body is BEYOND problematic.

  • Rheanonn Perez

    none of us were there except keys & levine so who knows what the tone of the exchange was. it sounds like keys stood her ground either way.

    it sucks that media looks at her like “omg she’s not wearing make-up!!!” rather than “omg she’s doing whatever the fuck she wants & disregarding society’s expectations of her as a woman/celebrity!” if a woman wears make-up every day she will be called “fake/cakey/etc” but if she shows up without it one day ppl will literally gasp & be in shock. half of the time the comments are from other women. why can’t we live & let live lol?

  • Mariam Elle Zoghbi

    Here’s the thing, I am so conflicted abut my feelings on the Jezebel article, because for whatever reason, that’s what infuriated me the most.
    I feel completely betrayed by the writer, she knows the pressure that women are put under. But, by being infuriated most by the jezebel article, I’m aware I’m placing those ridiculous standards on another woman. Why is her reaction in this situation some how more infuriating than the two men that are actually to blame?

    Aaaa I will now spend the rest of the day contemplating the meaning of life.

  • Raquel

    This is ridiculous. Alicia Keys is a powerful, strong woman. She seems like she has a good sense of humor. I would’ve made the same joke if she were my gal pal.

    Why are we so quick to hate?

  • Katy

    I can’t get over my crush on Adam Levine, and I think he was just joking around with Alicia. I hope/think he accepts that she CAN do whatever the fuck she wants. Howard Stern on the other hand = disgusting. Also, fab Severus Snape reference.

    • Harling Ross

      always like to sneak in a snape ref when poss!!

      • Katy


  • Christina

    Adam Levine is an ass.

  • Erika Galan

    Not sure Levine meant it in a negative way? I agree with other readers — I believe they may have been messing around with each other, like friends. GO ALICIA!! <3

    " And beyond that, maybe two pesky white dudes should generally refrain from giving a woman of color flack about whether or not she’s wearing makeup on a given day? Just a suggestion."

    Necessary? I don't think so. Maybe two men of any color should refrain from discussing ANY woman of any color's stance on wearing makeup. I truly don't believe this was an attack on her because she is black.

    • Paula Rodio

      Agreed. I was going to write the same. “Maybe two men of any color should refrain from discussing ANY woman of any color’s stance on wearing makeup.”

  • stephanie

    Sorry Harling, but I’m not sure about this one. I am an extremely devout MR reader and love this community for tackling both frivolous and serious issues with wit and intelligence, but it seems like this article is an unnecessary attempt to politicize something rather minuscule. I hate to hear a man dictate or comment on a woman’s appearance, specifically what she should or should not do, but I don’t think this was the case at all–at first. I think Stern simply asked Levine about Keys, and Levine shared an anecdote about friendly banter (btw, how amazing was Keys’ response?). The issue is that Kara Brown de-contextualized the topic and used it as an example to shame Alicia.

  • Georgia

    I feel like you’ve slightly mischaracterized Kara’s article here. She literally writes, “Alicia’s response is very fair! She is a grown-ass woman who can do whatever the f*ck she wants”

    It’s great to not wear makeup. It’s great to wear makeup too, if it makes you happy. I have looked at Alicia Keyes thinking she’s got nothing on, and then looked at myself in the mirror at the end of the day when I’ve taken my make-up off and look like sh*t and thought, there’s no way I could do no make up everyday. In a way, it’s its own unrealistic beauty standard. It’s nice to know she has a little help sometimes.

  • Emcc

    Adam Levine is hott and that’s all that matters to me, lol….

  • Nneya Richards

    It seems like Adam Levine was using an anecdote to show his rapport with Alicia Keys — that he can tease her and her response is, bad ass. I think if he gave this interview to E! it would have been taken very differently than Howard Stern *eyeroll* BUT I do think the article should have focused on Kara Brown’s policing and shaming of AK as to me, that is way more cringeworthy than Adam’s, especially to another woman.

  • miloquent

    The only reason we know Alicia’s response to his teasing is that Adam himself shared it. Stern asked a stupid question about Alicia’s makeup and Adam’s response is to tell him that Alicia does what the fuck she wants. And she’s great.

    This is not making an issue out of nothing- it’s totally missing what Adam did. He found a way to let Alicia speak in a situation where Stern wanted dirt.

    Should Adam have teased her- I don’t know the dynamics of the friendship to judge- but he clearly respected and even admired her response.

  • Erin

    this isn’t the exact same issue/story, but this reminded me of a time when I was still in college, working constantly on my photography senior thesis…I was always in the darkroom, checking equipment out and whatnot. there was this guy working at the equipment office who thought it was totally fine to evaluate my appearance every time I saw him. Just said whatever his opinion was on my looks on any given day I interacted with him. There were plenty of days I didn’t wear makeup, because it’s my own damn decision if I’m gonna put forth the effort, and WHY BOTHER when I’ll literally be in the dark for the entire day…not that that’s anyone’s business either, I don’t need to come up with excuses why not….One day he says to me, “hey, you’re looking pretty rough today” or something like was years and years ago…I was too busy and focused to really give him a response…then I’m out one night at the bar, go to get a drink and he’s there “oh wow, you must’ve showered today, you look totally different”. Um, FUCK YOU!!! meanwhile he was def no prize. whatsoever. but I didn’t stoop so low as to tell him he’s really not all that attractive himself. because it’s not OK to evaluate someone’s looks unless they actually ASK YOUR OPINION. Looking back I wish it registered to me faster…I’d love to give him a lesson on this, retrospectively.

    • Erin

      I’m not saying anything about the whole Stern/Levine business, this just reminded me of this experience I once had, about people chiming in about female appearance whenever they feel like it, like women are constantly up for judgements, whereas men can look like total slobs and no one says a word. I don’t look in the mirror every day and ask myself, “will everyone think I’m pretty today?” and I really shouldn’t feel the pressure either…

  • sophieorsophiaidontcare

    Hey hey hey MR! You guys are so super duper awesome but I think ya kind of snagged the low-hanging fruit with this one. I love the conclusion of this article but don’t appreciate the dramatic title/intro based on what was, in essence, a goofy anecdote told in passing on a talk show. All in all, I thought Adam Levine handled a potentially touchy topic rather gracefully (though let’s be real-it’s 2017, just shut Howard Stern DOWN). This was a thoughtfully crafted article in entirety, but I just expected more.

    K bye!

    Ps it’s also possible I’m totally missing very clear sarcasm. I’m a very literal person.

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    This infuriates me. I’m sure Levine didn’t mean too much by it and I guess they’re friends but her response obviously expresses exactly what I would feel – BUTT OUT of my decisions and mind your own fucking business. It’s not any man’s job to police whether or not I wear makeup. The sentiment from her essay was clear and yes, it’s not “I’ll never touch it again,” we have to be afraid for even expressing our joy in discovering wearing less/no makeup because we might then be policed on it? Guess what, we can change our minds anyyyyy time we want to. The point isn’t wearing it or not as much as feeling obligated to look a certain way for SOMEONE ELSE. She should do exactly what makes HER happy looking in the mirror, whatever that may be.

    • Holly Laine Mascaro

      That said, I don’t think any of this is really newsworthy. But if anything it drew my attention to her essay, which I hadn’t even seen and really loved reading now.

  • candice

    “Maybe two pesky white dudes should generally refrain from giving a woman of color flack about whether or not she’s wearing makeup on a given day? Just a suggestion.”

    And what did they say about her as a “woman of color”, particularly? Why did you have to throw that in there? They don’t give a rats ass that she’s a woman of color. YOU’RE the one bringing race into this. Because…? God, they have a discussion about a woman and makeup, and bam, it’s automatically an issue of race too. I love Man Repeller but this kind of writing is annoying.

  • candice

    k, it’s not annoying – that was mean. it’s a great article but I’m just getting so upset about guys getting OVER judged for some things. But that’s just me. You had some pretty valid points in this article and overall well-written. I don’t mean to offend (I have no idea how to edit my last post!)

  • Ronja Brown

    On point.

  • iamandjelka

    I think you missed the point. Sure – own your body and make your own choices, but if you are selling a story, maybe stick to it.

  • m dw

    Alicia Keys is beautiful, obviously, but that silly essay was just one more thing that makes me hate the new Beyonce brand of pop-feminism. More importantly I dont get why it should even matter in this context that the dudes are white and she’s black. This whole post makes me shudder.

  • Ruby

    What a joke of an article. Completely exaggerated