Black women face “high levels of anxiety” about their hair more often than white women, according to a 2016 “Good Hair” study by the Perception Institute.
Hair texture, density and thickness, among other things, are common topics of discussion among women of color. There are charts that determine how curly or coarse one’s hair is and dedicated aisles in stores now that contain “ethnic” hair products.
But these products are not found in hotels. While few consider this among the major social issues of our time, it has emerged as a topic of some debate thanks to a tweet last week by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Halsey.
“I’ve been traveling for years now and it’s been so frustrating that the hotel toiletry industry entirely alienates people of color. I can’t use this perfumed watered down white people shampoo. Neither can 50% of ur customers. Annoying,” Halsey tweeted to her 9 million followers on April 26.
Halsey, whose real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, is black. Her father is African American and her mother is white.
Several users immediately slammed Halsey for the tweet because they either assumed she was white or could just buy a bottle of shampoo to take with her to hotels.
“You are one of the white people sweetie,” one user wrote.
“No. I am Not.” Halsey responded.
Another person said, “Have you tried buying your own shampoo instead of blaming your very specific problem on race? You do realize hotels can’t very well accommodate every individual’s personal tastes, right? Or do you expect to see a bottle of Pureology Nano Works Gold Shampoo at your next hotel?”
One person wrote, “That’s not even the point, does it look like Halsey need colored people shampoo?! OMG!!! People sometimes are so oblivious.
“You’re one of my favorite female artists, but how …. can shampoo be racist lol dumb for this one,” a user wrote.
Halsey wrote back, “How can u have lived ur entire life without knowing that people of color and white people require different hair care products.”
The 23-year-old said most people missed the point when they suggested black women should bring their own shampoo after a Twitter user said, “So bring your own shampoo.”
“I’m fortunate enough to be financially in a position to do so, but POC traveling frequently for work/medical reasons might not be. Just making a point is all!” Halsey replied.
The topic about the kinds of shampoo offered at hotels has been raised before. In 2014, writer Jenée Desmond-Harris answered a question for the Root about why America’s hotels don’t provide hair products for black as well as white hair?
“I would argue that hotels tend to provide very basic hair-care products for people who don’t have any particular hair needs and/or just plain don’t care about their hair aside from making sure it’s clean,” Desmond-Harris wrote.
As Refinery 29 beauty writer Khalea Underwood wrote, “Last Wednesday, I was packing for a week-long visit to Atlanta. Even though I’d be staying at a nice hotel for part of it, I still brought full-sized everything: shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, curling cream, coil gel. And it’s a good thing that I did. The itty bitty bottles of product that the hotel provided, laden with alcohols and surfactants, would do absolutely nothing for my curls.”
However, many Twitter users went to Halsey’s defense and agreed with her sentiments.
“We’re not all millionaires, yet we all do stay at hotels and would appreciate if the shampoo didn’t turn our hair into Brillo pads,” one user wrote.
Another person said, “She’s not saying it to start riots or some s—. You need to remember this is one of the many small things that POC go through that makes them feel like we don’t matter enough to be catered to. It’s a microaggression.”
The Grammy-nominated artist is best known for her collaboration with the Chainsmokers on the 2016 hit “Closer” which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the United States and United Kingdom. Her recent hits include “Bad At Love” and “Him & I” featuring G-Eazy.
Halsey went on to say that her message was more than just about shampoo but was part of a larger problem of people of color feeling left out.
No hotel has directly responded to Halsey’s tweets but an account under the handle @findingsydney wrote to Halsey, “As a hotel operator who buys those awful tiny products, I want you to know I never actually think about the quality or race or patrons. I think about the price. And they’re actually terrible for the environment- so plz pack your own shampoo, thx!”
Halsey has been open about her background and embracing her ethnicity.
“I’m white-passing. I’ve accepted that about myself and have never tried to control anything about black culture that’s not mine,” Halsey said in August 2017 to Playboy. “I look like a white girl, but I don’t feel like one. I’m a black woman.”
She attempted to end the controversial discussion by tweeting that she never wants to “talk about soap ever again lol.”
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