Halsey talks looking white but feeling black: 'It's been weird navigating that'
Halsey's year has been the definition of "whirlwind." She unexpectedly skyrocketed to A-list status after "Closer" was released in July 2016, and the public has fallen in love with her blunt, totally-honest approach to stardom -- and her willingness to open up about some pretty difficult subjects.
In a new interview with Playboy, the 22-year-old speaks candidly about a variety of tricky topics, most notably the discomfort of growing up both black and white.
"I look like a white girl, but I don't feel like one," she said, describing herself as "white-passing." "So it's been weird navigating that. When I was growing up, I didn't know if I was supposed to love TLC or Britney."
While it's important to Halsey that she's "never tried to control anything about black culture that's not mine," she expressed frustration toward people who are quick to criticize others' racial experiences. "A girl will post a photo of herself with braids and the first response will be 'This is cultural appropriation. What the f--k is wrong with you?' And the girl will say, 'I'm half black.' Then the person's like, 'Oh, sorry. You look pretty,'" she said. "We've become traumatized because so many people have actually committed cultural appropriation, but our instinct is too reflexive."
Halsey's parents had just barely reached adulthood when they had Halsey in 1994. "I think about [my father], younger than I am right now, holding a six pound baby in his hands and realizing his entire life was about to change," she wrote in a 2016 Father's Day post.
The New Jersey native, who often wears wigs onstage, emphasized that she is "proud" of her natural hair -- but some of her physical attributes have led to awkward situations. "One of my big jokes a long time ago was 'I look white, but I still have white boys in my life asking why my nipples are brown,'" she said. "Every now and then I experience those racial blips."
And as America experiences a new, raw wave of racial tension, Halsey's comments about white people with "good intentions" feel particularly relevant. "White guilt is funny, but this is a really hard time for white allies," she said. "People don't want to do too much but want to do enough."
You can read Halsey's full interview with Playboy here.