Zendaya slams ‘Fashion Police’ host for ‘ignorant’ comment about hair

Actress Zendaya, left, calls "Fashion Police" host Giuliana Rancic, right, "ignorant" after Rancic said the actress' dreadlocks might smell like "patchouli oil or weed" on the show.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Zendaya has fired back at E! “Fashion Police” co-host Giuliana Rancic for saying that her dreadlocks on the Oscars red carpet on Sunday probably smelled “like patchouli oil or weed.”

The “Shake It Up” alum was among the selected celebrities critiqued during Monday’s fashion roundtable -- now hosted by comedian Kathy Griffin.

The format: Griffin and her co-hosts weigh in on a look and deliver a zinger or two. This year the 18-year-old’s appearance, white Vivienne Westwood gown and hair were on the receiving end of some of the evening’s unflattering commentary.


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“Oh, thank goodness Zendaya is here. I mean, when you think Oscars you think Streep, De Niro ... Zendaya,” Griffin quipped about the young actress’ unlikely appearance on the red carpet.

Fashion-focused stylist Brad Goreski touted the Disney Channel star’s fierce sartorial choices in the past, dubbing her “one of the girls to watch on the red carpet.” However, her safe gown just didn’t do it for him.

“Knowing that she’s going to the Oscars and knowing that she usually pushes fashion -- like why are you wearing this dress we’ve seen a million times?” he said. “I do have to say I love the ‘Poetic Jusice’ braids though. I think they’re really, really cool. I think she’s so cool.”

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Kelly Osbourne added that the “slightly bridal” gown aged her, but said Zendaya was one to watch and “about to make it big time.”

Rancic weighed in last and, per usual, delivered the group’s cattiest remarks.

“I love Zendaya’s style and I love when she has the little [pixie cut] hair -- she just had it -- I think she’s such a tiny frame that this hair to me overwhelms her,” she said. “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed. Maybe weed. It’s legal now. So that’s what I think, yeah, this look isn’t working.”

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Twitter users attacked the co-host for her “flippant” remarks and Zendaya issued a lengthy response on Twitter and Instagram on Monday night.

“There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful,” she wrote. “Someone said something about my hair at the Oscars that left me in awe. Not because i was relishing in my rave 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. I don’t usually feel the need to respond to negative thing but certain remarks cannot go unchecked. I’ll have you know my father, brother best childhood friend and little cousins all have locs.”

She then enumerated several respectable people who have dreadlocks in common: “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, nine-time Grammy nominee Ledisi, author Terry McMillan, Harvard professor Vincent Brown, historian Heather Andrea Williams and “many other men, women and children.”

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“None of which smell of marijuana,” she continued. “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 Osar 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 some people should listen to India Arie’s ‘I Am Not My Hair’ and contemplate a little before opening your moth so quickly to judge.”

Director DuVernay responded to the young star via Twitter, saying, “You’re beautiful, Queen. We bless the ignorant and wish them well. Onward. xo.”

After that, Rancic, who also flipped the bird to the academy during the telecast for leaving former “Fashion Police” host Joan Rivers out of the In Memoriam reel, also took to Twitter to issue her apology.

“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!!!” she wrote.

But at that point, her costars had already been pulled into the backlash.

“I WILL NOT BE DRAGED INTO THIS!” Osbourne tweeted. “The situation is being rectified like ADULTS by both parties. I hope you can leave it to them & do the same!”

To the angry responders, she added: “You guys do realize that @Zendaya is my friend right?”

Because that makes it all better.

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.