Alicia Keys Opens Up About 'Sleazy' Photo Shoot

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Alicia Keys has opened up about an experience early in her career that left her feeling “manipulated” and “objectified” by a photographer.

In her memoir More Myself, which came out Tuesday, the singer recalled how she went home and cried after doing a photo shoot ahead of the release of her debut album Songs in A Minor.

Then 19, Keys was left alone with the photographer, who told her to “open up your shirt a little” and “pull the top of your jeans down a bit at the front.”

Keys wrote: “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.

"If I say no, what doors will be closed to me? I swallow my misgivings, tuck my thumb between the denim and my skin, and obey.”

Keys, now 39, said she was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” when the photo appeared on a magazine cover and wanted to throw up. She said if then-manager Jeff Robinson had been at the shoot, "he would’ve voiced what I couldn’t at the time: Hell no. Close that shirt. Take your hand off your tit. And you’re not going to yank down your jeans."

The experience had a profound impact on Keys. “I swear that I’ll never again let someone rob me of my power,” she wrote. “It’s a promise I still work to keep.”

Keys did not name the photographer or the publication but she is referring to the cover of the June 2001 issue of Dazed & Confused (now Dazed) shot by Terry Richardson, who has been dogged by allegations of sexual exploitation and inappropriate sexual behaviour for years. In 2017, major fashion magazines like Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair announced they would stop commissioning Richardson.

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