The Alicia Keys we see today is one that was a long time in the making. At 39-years-old, Ms. Keys is confident, strong, resilient, and determined. But, 20 years ago, she was a young, vulnerable teenager just starting out in the entertainment industry. And unfortunately, people took advantage of that.
“Open up your shirt a little” … “Pull the top of your jeans down a bit in the front.” Those are the directives Alicia received from a photographer when she was 19-years-old and the entire situation left her feeling “objectified” and “manipulated.” The “Girl Of Fire” singer is opening up about this experience in her new memoir, “More Myself”.
“My spirit is screaming that something is wrong, that this feels sleazy. But my protests, lodged in the back of my throat, can’t make their way out,” Keys states. “I swallow my misgivings, tuck my thumb between the denim and my skin, and obey. This isn’t about me showing some skin, which I’ll do on my own terms, for my own purposes, in the coming years,” she writes. “It’s about feeling manipulated. It’s about being objectified.”
Keys reveals that the incident took place as she prepped for the release of her debut album, “Songs in A Minor”. Unfortunately, even though she was new to the industry, she was left all alone and vulnerable inn this encounter.
“I now understand why the photographer wanted my team out of that room,” she writes. “A nineteen-year-old girl is more pliable than a set of her grown-ass managers.”
The incident left the Grammy-winning singer shaken, humiliated, and crying, but it was an experience she learned from (and is still learning from today).
I swear that I’ll never again let someone rob me of my power,” Keys writes, adding, “It’s a promise I still work to keep.”