Alicia Keys recently opened up about her struggles with femininity and gay rumors.
The R&B singer has long been known for her more tomboyish style and her long braids, prompting her fans to question whether she needed to portray herself as a more feminine woman. Over the years, Keys has discovered how to be her own version of feminine and talked about it in a recent lengthy blog post on her personal website.
Alicia Keys said she first started “hiding” when she was in school. The Grammy Award-winning singer explained that she was a bit smarter than her counterparts, and her teachers started favoring her. Rather than be bullied by the other students, or have them envy her, she decided to blend into her surroundings as much as possible.
Keys said she started dressing like a tomboy at a young age because she didn’t want to be hit on or sexually harassed by older men when walking down New York city streets alone. She had already mastered the “baggy/braided/tough NY tomboy thing,” and said she felt good there. But, that is also when she started getting referred to as “gay” and “hard.”
“I definitely started hiding when I got old enough to walk down my NY streets alone. I started to notice a drastic difference in how men would relate to me if I had on jeans, or if I had on a skirt, or if my hair was done pretty. I could tell the difference, I could feel the animal instinct in them and it scared me. I didn’t want to be talked to in that way, looked at in that way, whistled after, followed. And so I started hiding. I chose the baggy jeans and timbs, I chose the ponytail and hat, I chose no makeup, no bright color lipstick or pretty dresses. I chose to hide. Pieces at a time. Less trouble that way.”
Keys said she started changing her appearance when she began getting recognized as an artist. Rather than just the baggy jeans and braids, she decided to let her hair down and wear dresses. While she made small changes, she said it took her a while to start figuring out who the “real me” was, and at that point she was just as confused as ever.
“I became comfortable hiding, my intelligence, my physical appearance, my truths, my thoughts, myself.”
While she says she still struggles daily with wondering what people will think if she chooses to wear a certain outfit, she has become more comfortable in her own skin.
“You are allowed to be smart
You are allowed to be beautiful
You are allowed to be radical and have strong thoughts that others might not agree with
You are allowed to be tough
You are allowed to be sexy
You are allowed to be bold
You are allowed to be shapely
You are allowed to be kind
You are allowed to be yourself!!”
“I don’t have to hide anymore, I don’t have to pretend and hold back, I don’t have to think that my intelligence, beauty and sensuality are intimidating to others. Who cares?”
Keys is married to Swizz Beatz, with whom she has sons Egypt, 4 and a half, and Genesis, 7 months. She released her latest single “28,000 Days” on July 31, Vibe reports.
[Photo by Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images]