A great hair day has the power to turn even the worst of days around. But what if the price for your service meant sitting in a chair, enduring judgmental stares from every corner of the salon?
Keya Neal is no stranger to the haircare industry, where beauty too often meets bias. With 28 years of experience as a hairstylist, Keya has seamlessly blended her expertise into two influential platforms – Kolor Kulture and Texture Vs Race. Currently, she is partnered with SalonCentric to create “Keya’s Korner,” a space on social media dedicated to educating the beauty industry and the wider community to be more diverse-minded.
In the season three premiere of Volume Up, Keya delves into the social media frenzy and backlash that ensued after she shared her experiences with the “white gaze” as a Black woman in the salon.
“What I have found in the salons is that people use their curiosity for seeing people that they are not used to seeing in their spaces… And they are not looking all the time in a judgmental or disparaging way, but nevertheless, it makes it uncomfortable. I have always felt uncomfortable. My clients have always felt uncomfortable. And we are either forced to submit to it and laugh it off or just deal with it.”
This episode is a journey beyond the mirror, reflecting on themes of deflection, entitlement, and centering in both the beauty industry and wider society.
“The word ‘white’ was the trigger. It was never about what I said. It wasn’t even about how I said it. It was that I said the word ‘white.’”
“I think the two words that were missing in this conversation were consent and permission. You have to get permission, and I have to give consent.”