She’s one of the most accomplished artists in the world, but Alicia Keys has admitted to having self-esteem issues. The Grammy Award-winning singer caught up with PEOPLE to talk about her autobiography More Myself and the near-paralyzing insecurities she’s carried since before she began an international superstar.
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For years she said she “was building my life around this image of perfection, and it was really oppressive… I was clearly a woman who wanted to talk about truth and empowerment and strength, but when I really looked at myself, I realized that my whole life I’ve kind of been putting on a mask.”
In More Myself, Alicia Keys details how an absentee father affected her outlook and how as an adult, there was a point when she felt an “emptiness” due to stressors. During the rise of her career, Keys also felt as if she was being manipulated into an image she wasn’t comfortable with.
“‘Open up your shirt a little,’ [the photographer] directs while firing off a flurry of snaps,” she said. “My spirit is screaming that something is wrong, that this feels slimy. ‘Pull the top of your jeans down a bit in the front,’ he urges. I swallow my misgivings, tuck my thumb between the denim and my skin, and obey. On the day of the cover’s debut, I pass a newsstand where the magazine is on display. I almost throw up.’” More Myself is available everywhere.