The Anthem We All Needed: Alicia Keys “Girl Can’t Be Herself”


In the very recently released album “HERE” by Alicia Keys, she has a song titled “Girl Can’t Be Herself” which I think embodies some of the main concerns that women have today, while (importantly) still targeting the correct audience. Many of her followers are college-aged students like me, since we grew up listening to her. She now is a coach on The Voice, a popular show on NBC.

“Girl Can’t Be Herself,” the lyrics to which I have attached, addresses her new look of natural beauty, which is really hard to miss when you watch her on TV. She reflects on the state of society’s perception of body positivity as well. In hopes of creating some sort of change, or at the very least, conversation, Alicia Keys sends a strong message to her listeners.

Immediately she starts off by reflecting on the image of the made-up woman. As women, we are manipulated into thinking that our natural beauty is not enough. The media in general creates a general perception of what a “woman” should look like. Iif women do not look that way, we do not feel that society deems us beautiful, or worthy. She goes on in the very first verse, to say that she doesn’t want to wear makeup, and she shouldn’t have to conceal what she’s made of. To take it a step further, she says “maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem” suggesting that instead of make-up helping the woman feel empowered, it succeeds to the perception that women need it to feel empowered, and that they are not enough on their own.

She adds onto a bigger concern that society should have. Alicia Keys is a naturally gorgeous woman, so my thought is: why does she feel compelled to use make-up? Because she is in the limelight? Since she is in the limelight, why isn’t that enough for the world to see? I think rather than arguing that makeup is bad and shouldn’t be used, she’s arguing that it’s unnecessary for women to feel beautiful about themselves. They shouldn’t feel compelled and forced to wear make-up because that is the only way society says she will be beautiful.

She uses makeup as a metaphor for freedom. The less she wears, the more she actually feels like herself. She doesn’t want to “cover up” her face and her natural beauty. She doesn’t want to cover up her thoughts, or her struggles, or any of the so-called “ugly” things result from being a woman.

This might just be the body-positive anthem that all women need to hear and celebrate.