Musician Alicia Keys took her four-year-old son Genesis to the nail salon. Most kids that age emulate their parents, and Genesis was excited to get his nails painted. In an Instagram video, keys shared how things took a strange turn after Genesis finished having his nails painted rainbow colors, a design he chose himself.
“He’s in the chair and he’s like, ‘I want rainbow.’ So he tells the lady that he wants rainbow colors on his nails. And she brings all of these colors and she paints each nail a different color. And after she painted his nails, he looked at me and he said, ‘Mommy, I don’t want this on my nails,'” Keys says.
When Keys asked Genesis why he had the sudden change of heart, he responded, “People are not gonna like it.”
The singer says she was floored that at only four, Genesis knew other people would be judging his choices, and those judgments would be negative.
“He already understands the concept that someone is gonna judge him because he chose rainbow colors on his nails,” she says in her Instagram vid. She says she tried to encourage him to see his decision to wear rainbow colors as an expression of creativity, adding, “‘Stick with it. You chose it. You liked it. You do it.'”
Genesis came around, especially after Keys told him that lots of guys paint their nails. But the whole experience got Keys thinking about how much judgment there is in the world, especially around gender expression.
“The way I see it, there is masculine and there is feminine energies inside of us all, period,” she says. “It gets concerning to me that we can’t just explore these different sides of ourselves. These different energies that are within us….Even for me, myself, I oftentimes express the masculine energy that’s inside of me. And, all the time, if that happens, there are the judgments, and there’s the stereotypes, and there are all the energies that come toward that.”
She continued, “And for my boys, [it’s] similar, if they want to express the feminine energy that’s inside of them, there’s all of these judgments, and all these rules, and stereotypes, and vibe… It’s really frustrating to me. I’m actually really, really frustrated about it. I ask myself, ‘Why is that? Why can’t we just express the different energies that are inside us?’ …We should be able to explore and express however we want to.”
People in the comments are moved by Keys’ words, and she has the full support of her husband, music producer Swizz Beatz, who shared a message of support for his son, too:
Yes, king! Anyone judging a four-year-old for liking lots of colors is the one with a problem. Gender should be explored and expressed anyway that feels right.