2015 BET Awards - Arrivals

(Photo: Vincent Sandoval/WireImage/Getty Images)

I say the following statement without the tiniest bit of sarcasm: It must be kind of hard to be a celebrity. I was actually talking about this with one of my friends the other day. While I have pretty thick skin, and tend to do what I want, when I want, without worrying about what other people think of me, I’m not so sure I’d like every single one of my actions broken down and scrutinized by a bunch of strangers on the Internet and in tabloids. So, when I see people like Zendaya getting constantly criticized for a choice as personal as a hairstyle, I can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for her. And, what’s more, when did hair-shaming become such a big thing?

(Related: 18-Year-Old Zendaya Deserves A Round Of Applause For Schooling Giuliana Rancic On Her Oscars Dreadlocks)

Let’s provide a little bit of context here, shall we? At the BET Awards yesterday, Zendaya showed up in a pixie wig looking like a complete boss. I mean, it really is a very rare person that can pull off as many hairstyles as she can, especially a pixie cut. Anyway, Twitter trolls be trollin’, and they couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a jab at her new look. Ever the badass-est teenager around, Zendaya responded with the following:

zendaya tweet

So, basically, everyone can just sit right back down, because she loves her hair and that’s all that matters. Why this isn’t common knowledge and the world can’t seem to let people’s personal decisions be their own personal decisions is beyond me, but I guess this is why we can’t have nice things.

You may remember that this isn’t exactly the first time that someone has sought out to shame Zendaya for her beauty choices. Months back, Giuliana Rancic made some rather unseemly comments regarding Zendaya’s dreadlocks, and things got so heated that not only was Rancic forced to issue a, in my opinion, totally insincere apology, it actually prompted Kelly Osbourne to resign her duties as a Fashion Police co-host alongside Rancic.

And Zendaya’s not the only one to come under fire for changing her hair. Rancic herself took some heat for her decision to get hair extensions; Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian both got railed by Twitter trolls when they made the choice to go bleach blonde; and mass critiques of both Liam Hemsworth and Robert Pattison‘s short-lived hairstyles proved that men aren’t even safe from the fast-growing hair-shaming trend. So, my question is this: Why do people care so much about what strangers do or don’t do to the hair on their heads?

(Related: A Case For Never Changing My Hair, And Why It Doesn’t Make Me ‘Boring’)

In some ways, I understand the attachment that people feel to a certain look; I know I’d be very upset with some of my friends with long, gorgeous hair if ever they decided to chop it, and I’ve been told that when I was a baby I cried when my mom came home with new haircut one time. We get so used to the way that people close to us look, that it can be a little jarring when they make a big change. But strangers? (Because, guys, no matter how close we feel to celebrities and how much they’re in the public eye, they’re strangers.) What gives us the right to comment on how often they change their hair or why they feel the need to keep it the same forever? Celebrities get criticized when they make drastic changes and they get called “boring” if they stay the same—damned if they do, damned if they don’t, it would seem.

I’ve actually lost track of the number of times I’ve said this, but we should never criticize someone for doing something that makes them happy. I don’t care if we’re talking about hair, makeup, or plastic surgery—if it makes a person feel better about his or herself, even if only for a moment, then it’s something to applaud, not mock. Zendaya’s response is the perfect example of the correct reaction to this kind of baseless criticism, but unfortunately, not everyone out there is as strong or confident as she. People tend to forget that there are real, living, breathing human beings underneath the styles that they mock so much, and that needs to change. While it might be too easy to say that you should do what you want, ignore the hate, and know that you can’t please everyone, it isn’t too easy to say that people need to learn to think before they criticize.

Or, you know, just keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves. That’d be pretty nice, too.