Recently, Alicia Keys expressed her devotion to #nomakeup. In an open letter about her experience, she writes: “I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.”

In a world full of everything ‘on fleek,’ waist training, the constant pressure to look amazing 24-7, lately, I find myself being able to relate to anything that praises women for being just that…women.

Like Ms. Keys, I became that girl who found myself wearing makeup because I always wanted to look my best ‘just in case,’ as if who I was naturally wasn’t my best, as if my flaws made me less of a woman.

One day, I just got tired. I was about to graduate, the spontaneity of life was happening, makeup took forever and it was expensive, I missed my skin, which is really nice actually, and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. What I did want was to fall in love with the person underneath those layers. After all, that was who I was. That was the real me.

So, I gave it up. I gave it all away and went makeup-less for about a year (with the exception of a few special events when I wanted to put a lil’ stank on it or got bored and wanted to play dress up) but no pressure. I got used to my weird eyebrows, my panda-like features, and that one unicorn pimple that shows up every single month.

But the whole makeup boycott sparked more than just a fresh face in public every day. It allowed me to look beyond mirrors and into the woman who no longer needed or wanted validation from others.

Stripping myself down eventually turned into giving away my entire wardrobe, becoming a mindful minimalist, allowing the world to see a piece of my most vulnerable art, all while rocking an edgy, tapered TWA. It forced me into a new lifestyle and perspective that I vow to — I am enough and what I have and what I like is enough. I accept me. I love who I am, both internally and externally, with and especially without makeup, sexy or revealing clothing and itchy extensions. 

The best parts of who I am are no longer, nor have they ever been physical. And now, no magazine ad or human being on the planet has the power to make me feel any different about being this beautiful creation of God. Not even I can question that anymore.

I write this not to shame or cause division between type A and type B woman (we get enough of that). Don’t get it twisted, I still live for a beat face…when I feel like it. My only hope is from now on women will be able to shout from the top of the hills with imperfections as clear as day: TAKE ME AS I AM, LOVE ME EITHER WAY OR MOVE ALONG!  

It takes a lot of courage to be yourself completely. It takes a lot of strength to remove your digital layers and be the person you are when you’re alone at 2 a.m., but from experience, I can tell you that it is so worth it.

I swear loving yourself is the strongest, most empowered, most free and most honestly beautiful that you will ever feel.

Be you.

Want more essays like this? Sign up for our daily newsletter!