Alicia Keys Vents About Gender Norms After A Trip To The Salon With Her Son

by Kristine Cannon
Alicia Keys Instagram
Alicia Keys/Instagram

Alicia Keys’ son wanted a rainbow manicure, but he was afraid of what others would think

Alicia Keys is sitting in what appears to be her living room; she’s wearing a red, white and black varsity jacket, and she leans slightly forward toward the camera. “The other day I went to the nail salon with Genesis,” she starts. Genesis Ali Dean is Keys’ 4-year-old son (she also has a 9-year-old son, Egypt Daoud Dean), and on this particular trip to the salon, Keys said Genesis wanted rainbow-colored nails. So, he got just that: rainbow-hued nails. But it’s what happens after his nails were painted that prompted Keys to sit down to retell, record, and share the story with her 17 million Instagram fans and followers.

“Mommy, I don’t want this on my nails. People are not gonna like it,” Genesis said of his now rainbow-colored nails. “Can you believe this?” Keys says incredulously at the camera. “He’s 4, and he already understands the concept that somebody is going to judge him because he chose rainbow colors on his nails.”

Keys’ response to her son was nothing short of perfect. She started by assuring him that people were going to love it and find it cool and creative ⁠— that he should stick with it because he chose it and he liked it. “Who cares what anybody else says,” Keys said. She went on to say that plenty of other men paint their nails, which left Genesis shocked. “That made him feel better,” Keys said, “but it just got me to thinking how completely judged we are all the time.”

Posted on Nov. 9, Keys captioned the video “Less Labels, More Expressions. Been thinking about how over labeled and over judged we all are… can u feel me??” In the video, Keys explained that, the way she sees it, everyone has masculine and feminine energies inside them. “Period,” she says. “That’s just how it is.”

Keys went on to say that it concerns her that people can’t explore both the masculine and feminine sides of themselves, “these different energies that are within us,” she says. “Even within myself, I often express my masculine energy inside of me. It’s very natural to me; that’s how I feel. And for my boy, similar: If we wants to explore the feminine energy that’s inside of him, there’s all these judgements and all these rules and stereotypes and vibes, and it’s really frustrating me. And I’m actually really, really frustrated by it, and I ask myself, ‘Why is that? Why is it that we can’t just express the energies that are inside of us?'”

Responses to Keys’ video were overwhelmingly positive and supportive of Keys’ stance.

“I loved your feedback to him,” writes Hollywood trainer Jeanette Jenkins.

Jeanette Jenkins/Instagram

Canadian singer-songwriter Melanie Fiona wrote that “this is the stuff that will change the world.”

Melanie Fiona/Instagram

While Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross simply commented raised-hands emojis.

Tracee Ellis Ross/Instagram

This isn’t the first time Keys has spoken out about her frustrations toward gender norms, though. In a January 2017 interview with Allure, Keys said she was “annoyed at the way we force boys to be fake strong ⁠— don’t cry, don’t be soft,” she said. “Let a boy be able to dance! Let a boy paint his nails. So, a boy wants to paint his nails. Who cares! All these strange, oppressive ideas.”