Various media outlets this week reported that singer Halsey has provoked the ire of some by complaining that hotel shampoo doesn’t meet the grooming needs of people of color. Halsey took to Twitter to complain about the lack of appropriate toiletries. The issue allowed the singer to reveal her race to the unaware, and to point out an issue that some either do not think about, or that is simply not discussed in public forums.
As so often happens, the issue began with a tweet. The singer who is reportedly romantically linked to rapper G-Eazy, tweeted about the problem of shampoo in hotels and other places that often involve overnight stays. Halsey wrote: “I can’t use this watered down white people shampoo and neither can 50% of ur customers. Annoying.”
Halsey’s use of the phrase “white people shampoo” encouraged some folks in the Twitter-verse to erroneously point out, “You’re white.”
The singer explained her background: she has a white mother and African-American father.
Are there larger issues in the world? Yes. But the one that Halsey brings up is one that has multiple layers. One, that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to grooming products in hotels, and as Halsey pointed out, in other public places like psychiatric hospitals; two, the underlying argument seems to be that not enough people of color travel to make the accommodation for their grooming needs.
The issue points out the generally marginalized status of hair products for people of color. In some cities, the lack of availability of complete lines of hair care products is a problem. Major retailers in small- and medium-sized cities (at least in Indiana) would either have a complete lack of products, or they would carry the shampoo of one brand and the conditioner of another, and so on. While it is possible to style ethnic hair with a mix of products, for most people, this isn’t ideal.
Some might argue that Halsey as a singer should stick to entertaining. However, entertainers are citizens of the world, too. Maybe we have taken for granted what kind of products are made available in hotel chains and elsewhere. The problem of shampoo availability is symbolic of larger issues and raises questions that US society, in large part, isn’t quite ready to answer.