At the Oscars this February, Zendaya debuted a dreadlocks hairstyle that caused quite the controversy (farewell, Fashion Police). Now, that look will go down in history thanks to Mattel. The classic toy brand is making a one-of-a-kind Barbie in Zendaya’s likeness complete with her Vivienne Westwood gown and the beaded locks. Barbie revealed the sketch on Instagram with a positive note, “Thank you for raising your voice.” The brand is referring to Zendaya’s poise when her Oscars hairstyle was criticized by the media.
Here’s the background story:
On the post-Oscars episode of Fashion Police, E! host Giuliana Rancic commented on Zendaya’s dreadlocks, saying that she felt Zendaya “smells like patchouli oil . . . or weed.” After a great deal of backlash over Giuliana’s remarks, which were perceived as racially insensitive, Zendaya cleared the air by posting a statement to her Instagram. “There is a fine line between what is funny and what is disrespectful,” she said. “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 her hair.” She cited Selma director Ava DuVernay as one of the many accomplished stars who wear their hair in dreadlocks, and DuVernay responded on Twitter, saying, “You’re beautiful, Queen. We bless the ignorant and wish them well.”
Giuliana issued a formal apology to Zendaya on E! News, which in turn elicited another response from Zendaya on Instagram. Zendaya stated she appreciated Giuliana’s apology, then quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
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But as it turns out, Us Weekly discovered that this whole debacle could have been avoided, as Fashion Police is pretaped and filmed three takes on this particular segment. Kelly Osbourne protested against Giuliana’s patchouli oil comments after the first and second takes, but Giuliana continued to make the same remarks for the third and final take. Kelly would later state on Twitter that she was “seriously questioning staying on the show” as a result.
We’re hoping that this dispute opens up a larger conversation, not unlike the comments about Viola Davis being “less than classically beautiful.” Sure, while we typically expect sideswept strands and classic chignons at the biggest award show of the season, Zendaya broke the beauty mold. The locks reached all the way down to her waist and were twisted into a half-up, over-the-shoulder style. She also added a few jewels for an added bohemian vibe. There was no denying she looked elegant.
We fully expect to see more women rocking this style as an alternative to box braids and senegalese twists (can you say trendsetter?). Keep reading to read Zendaya’s full statements about her dreadlocks and to see an all-angles view of her Oscars style.
– Additional reporting by Emily Orofino