Alicia Keys' look at the VMAs shows she meant it when she said she's over makeup.

Alicia Keys did something pretty gutsy at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.

She showed up to the red carpet, husband Swizz Beatz at her side, wearing absolutely no makeup.

Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images.


We're not talking "no-makeup makeup" either, by the way. (You know, when people use makeup to rock a more natural look?)

We're talking actually no makeup.

Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images.

Whether she's appearing in promos for her new gig hosting the 11th season of "The Voice" or performing at the DNC, you may have noticed that Keys has been walking out the door without a single dab of lipstick or swipe of mascara.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Keys expressed why she decided to go the makeup-free route in an essay for Lenny in May 2016.

"Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of," she penned in the newsletter, which was co-created by Lena Dunham. "And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect."

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

"One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women," she wrote.

"The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you’re plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked. All of it is so frustrating and so freakin’ impossible."

Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for VH1.

Keys' decision to ditch makeup is laudable — not because makeup or the women who wear it are inherently bad (they're not) but because she's embracing what works for her.

People of all genders should be able to wear as much or as little makeup as they choose without feeling like they need to conform to society's expectations (expectations that start kicking in younger than many of us may realize).

To wear makeup or not to wear makeup is a personal choice. When it comes to the images presented in the media, however, it can start to seem like wearing makeup is the only choice. Keys' decision to reject that pressure is setting an amazing example.

No one should feel like they need makeup to hide who they really are, which makes Keys' VMAs look one for the books.

"I don’t want to cover up anymore," she wrote in Lenny. "Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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