Zendaya, Dreadlocks, Giuliana Rancic and Stereotypes
18 year old Zendaya Coleman wowed viewers and critics when she stepped onto the Oscars Red Carpet rocking dreadlocks paired with her elegant gown. According to Hollywood Life, Zendaya’s intentions were inspired by Lisa Bonnet’s character on The Cosby Show. Beautiful as ever, Zendaya floated her way down the carpet exuding more confidence and grace than the typical teenager would.
After making this shocking fashion statement, the E! channel’s Fashion Police turned their attention to Zendaya’s new hair and fired off some majorly controversial, and slightly offensive, comments in reference to her dreads. Giuliana Rancic, E! News Anchor and Fashion Police co-host, was quoted saying “I feel like she smells like Pachouli oil.” Then after Kelly Osborne suggested “or weed,” she agreed eagerly stating “yeah, maybe weed.”
Lines Are Crossed
This controversial statement was then made viral in the most negative way possible, and Zendaya fired back with a hefty, but captivating statement in response to Rancic’s judgmental comment by defending her look. She noted how offensive Rancic’s statement was, and listed a number of her predecessors that also had dread locks (family, Terry McMillan, Vincent Brown, and other very successful professionals).
Zendaya compared her locks to a lion’s mane, representing beauty and strength. This post on Instagram then took all those involved in the mini-scandal to Twitter, with Rancic apologizing for her statement being misunderstood and Osborne’s attempt to stay out of the fury.
Stereotype Uproar in Hollywood
While Rancic’s comment was probably not intended to be as hurtful and offensive as it was interpreted by the rest of the world, it was not a smart thing to say. Yes, Fashion Police is consistently bashing celebrities and their clothing choices, but this jab at the young star implied something far more inappropriate than just saying a dress was ugly or comparable to a burlap sack.
Poking fun at Zendaya’s dreads by referencing weed is not a fashion critique; it is a jab at the young-star by way of stereotype. Not to say that Rancic assumes Zenadaya smokes at all or lives the lifestyle that people with dreadlocks are supposedly believed to live, but Rancic literally “judged a book by it’s cover” and demonstrated behavior that we learned not to do when we were in kindergarten.
We know not to assume based on appearance. It’d be like calling out Adam Levine for his sleeve tattoos that make him look like he is in a biker gang and gets in lots of bar fights, or hearing your friend talk about her night out at the bar and automatically assuming that her life revolves around partying. It’s petty, close-minded, and so far from the truth.
Even if Zenadaya’s hair DID smell like weed, who the hell cares? And how is that related to fashion or in any way a critique of quality hairstyling? The only time we can actually appropriately assume someone is smoking or drinking or doing what ever they please is if they sing about it, talk about it, or make it known in some other way.
Miley Cyrus has become known for being a fan of reefer and other questionable behavior, but because she’s TALKED about it. Even then, we couldn’t use Miley’s lifestyle as a reason for her choice of clothing. The two are of completely different spectrums.
Rancic set a poor example for her show (and viewers) by taking her position as a “Fashion Police Officer” and choosing to ignite a stigma set for dreadlocks instead of appreciating the look and maybe commenting on how she thought Zendaya pulled it off. Ya know, the job that the show actually requires.
Even if Rancic hated the dreadlocks, saying that they must smell like marijuana is not a good reason for not liking it. Facial structure maybe, implying stereotypical lifestyle choices is not.
Power to the Dreads
Ignorant, close-minded assumptions like this piss me off so much because it’s just another reason for people to avoid being who they truly are, and for our society to stop progressing as accepting of people. Obviously, there’s a time and a place for attire and behavior to be muted or to be made more subtle, like covering up tattoos for job interviews or refraining from profanity in the presence of your family, but seeing dreads on the red carpet on the head of a talented artist does not call for stereotyping and judgmental comparisons.
I’m with Zendaya on this. She looked lovely and strong by sporting a new look, showing just how confident she was. Rancic made a poor choice by commenting so inappropriately, steering completely away from the boundaries of fashion-critiquing and entered into conversation that was not called for, nor accurate.