Hair-bashing on the red carpet!

FroRealNoLyeCurlies and more are “outraged” by a questionable comment made about a natural hairstyle worn at the 2015 Academy Awards red carpet. Here’s the kinky truth.

E! Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic said that 18-year-old Black teenager and Disney actress Zendaya Coleman’s locs (dreadlocks) make her look like “she smells like patchouli oil and weed.” This comment sparked an uproar among other celebrities, the Black community, young men and women, and many others including media outlets such as bloggers, vloggers, program host…etc.

Zendaya Coleman at the The 87th Oscars, held on Sunday, February 22, 2015.
Zendaya Coleman at the The 87th Oscars, held on Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Rancic’s comments were said to be racist, attacking the standard of beauty in the Black community. Based on the Huffington Post, it appears Zendaya’s fanbase is young, impressionable girls who are already challenged with self-image issues on embracing their natural beauty. This became an egregious offense nationally that evoked a variety of support for the young actress.

Zendaya eloquently tweeted a response to Rancic defending her choice to wear locs on the red carpet, which was respectful, concise and impactful:

“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 review, but because I was hit with locs must smell of patchouli oil or “weed” is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive.

“I don’t usually feel the need to respond to negative things, but certain remarks cannot go unchecked. I’ll have you know my father, brother, best childhood friend and little cousins all have locs. Do you know what Ava Du Vernay (director of the Oscar-nominated film Selma), Ledisi (9-time Grammy nominated singer/songwriter and actress), Terry McMillan (author), Vincent Brown (Professor of African and African American studies at Harvard University), Heather Andrea Williams (Historian who also possesses a JD from Harvard University and an MA and PHD from Yale University), as well as many other men, women and children of all races have in common? Locs. None of which smell of marijuana.

“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 suggest people should listen to India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” and contemplate a little before opening your mouth so quickly to judge.” — Zendaya Coleman

Giuliana’s first attempt to apologize included that her remarks were meant to reference a bohemian lifestyle; however, that did not go over too well with anyone, including her E! Fashion Police host Kelly Osborn, who threatened to leave the show if this was not correctly handled. Thankfully, Giuliana followed up with what appeared to be a heartfelt tweet and on-the-air apology to Zendaya and all others she may have offended.

This was a learning opportunity to understand your audience. It seemed Giuliana was limited in her knowledge of hair and fashion. Black hair is controversial and filled with many stereotypes. I appreciate the national dialogue people are having around the loc hairstyle.

Locs are a natural hairstyle that can be worn as a faux loc protective style, which Zendaya wore on the red carpet, or a permanent natural hairstyle, or worn as part of the Rastafarian culture, which is rooted in spirituality and a deep sense of Black pride. There are millions of loc-wearing people, and on different continents wearing locs can take on different meaning as well.

In terms of care, yes, you can wash locs, style locs, dye locs, condition locs and moisturize locs. Rastafarians, based on the movement, are typically forbidden from cutting or interfering with the normal growth of their hair, which is why they grow to great lengths.

Locs are worn by men, children and women for fashion, religion or other reasons. Locs’ history is meaningful and filled with peace. Whether you like the look or not, it is another natural hairstyle choice birthed from an African movement.

Thankfully, Black women’s beauty is being celebrated more and more in the 21st century, which I see being represented in magazines, movies and television screens. However, natural hairstyles for Black women are an on-going process to be embraced by all, including the Black community. We continue to educate and move forward to see ourselves as beautiful through the constant standard of beauty changing in spite of negativity and public shade.

Keep in mind that being pro-natural does not mean you are anti-relaxer. I like mine Fro Real No Lye!

Natural hair coach and enthusiast Kelley Eubanks welcomes reader responses to