18-year-old actress, musician, and former Disney star Zendaya Coleman had one of the very best beauty looks at the Oscars this weekend. For the big night, she traded the cute pixie cut she wore to the Grammys for a crown of long, full dreadlocks, and she looked amazing. Not everyone liked the look, however, and “fashion expert” Giuliana Rancic got downright offensive about it on E!’s Fashion Police, saying that the 18-year-old looked like she smelled like weed or patchouli.
It was s shockingly offensive thing for a person to say, especially a media personality whose whole job is to talk about fashion and hair on TV. Despite the fact that she’s been doing this for a long time, Rancic apparently did not think it was inappropriate to say that an 18-year-old black TV star looked like she smelled like drugs, just because her hair was in locs.
The comment is especially inappropriate because, as Buzzfeed points out, Rancic had previously praised Kylie Jenner for the “edgy” dreadlocks she wore for a single afternoon, like a costume. Zendaya took to Instagram to address the comments, writing:
“There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful. Someone said something about my hair at the Oscars that left me in awe. Not because I was relishing in rave outfit reviews, but because I was hit with ignorant slurs and pure disrespect. To say that an 18 year old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or ‘weed’ is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive. …
“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. To me locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion’s mane.”
I don’t know what it is today, but teenagers seem so much more intelligent than I remember my friends and I sounding when we wear that age. Zendaya’s response was perfect.
Of course, Rancic jumped in to clarify that her comment had nothing to do with race.
Dear @Zendaya, I’m sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!
— Giuliana Rancic (@GiulianaRancic) February 24, 2015
Sure, I believe that Rancic did not mean to make a racist crack about Zendaya’s hair, but whether she meant to or not, she did it. You can’t say a white woman with dreadlocks is edgy and cool, and a black woman with the same hairstyle looks like she smells like drugs and expect people to not be offended by that.
Photo: Dan MacMedan/WireImage/Getty Images