Update, 10 a.m. February 25: Giuliana Rancic went on-air last night to apologize for the comments she made on Fashion Police regarding Zendaya's hair. She said it's been a "learning experience" and has taught her "to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, and how much damage they can do." Scroll down to see the video.
Update, 5 p.m. February 24: It's come to our attention that Kelly Osbourne was mistakenly identified as making a comment about Zendaya's hair smelling like weed. She's now gone on the record, on Twitter, to refute those attributions, even going so far as saying she may leave Fashion Police. We've amended the story to reflect this development.
Looks like the Fashion Police hosts are on a roll when it comes to not thinking before they speak.
Last night, host Giuliana Rancic commented on actress and singer Zendaya's dreadlocks hairstyle she wore on the Oscars red carpet Sunday night, saying that they make her look like she "smells like patchouli oil. Or, weed."
Zendaya took to Instagram last night to respond to their tone-deaf comments, stating: "There is already harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough."
She went on to list Ava DuVernay (director of the Oscar-nominated film Selma), Ledisi (nine-time Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and actress), and Terry McMillan (author) as other successful and accomplished loc-wearers, promptly shutting down Giuliana's comment with intelligence, cultural awareness, and maturity.
As Zendaya states in her response, "There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful," and Fashion Police clearly hasn't learned what that is. Comments like these are not only offensive to a large group of people, but borderline racist and largely wrong generalizations that only help to further reinforce a stereotype that has a deeply rooted negative history.
Writer and image activist Michaela Angela Davis weighed in on the controversy, noting that, while Zendaya’s response “out-classed” their comments, it’s frustrating that she even had to reply in the first place. “[Their comments] make it so clear how ignorant a lot of people are to the breadth of beauty that is American, and particularly that comes from Americans of color,” she notes. “New kinds of people are hitting the red carpet, from Viola Davis with [her] hair being natural, or Lupita, or locs on Ava DuVernay, and they have to adjust to the widening of the breadth of Black beauty.”
Davis compared this recent fiasco to the distasteful comments from Don Imus back in 2007. “It was a little reminiscent of when Don Imus called the basketball players from Rutgers 'nappy-headed hoes' in a moment when they were champions,” she notes. “In this moment, Zendaya was having her moment and they snatched her into their ignorance.”
Rancic tweeted an apology, stating that her comment "was referring to a bohemian-chic look."
Kelly Osbourne tweeted a couple of hours later, saying that she and Zendaya are friends.
Davis says that the apologies Osbourne and Rancic tweeted out were even more disappointing.
“I think this is a big moment that’s being missed by Kelly and Giuliana,” she says. “Be big and say, 'You know what, I’m willing to listen, learn, [and] understand.' Versus this ‘I’ve got Black friends, so I can’t be racist’ reply. Those are lazy responses that close off the possibility for a more nuanced conversation and understanding… Yes, you apologized, but what did you learn?”
We've reached out to both Giuliana and Zendaya's publicists for comment and will update this post as we hear back.
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