Archived: Fashion Police Attack Black Hair on Oscars Red Carpet

By Sheryl Estrada

Updated Feb. 28, 2015

Wednesday afternoon viasocial mediaactress Zendaya Coleman responded to the host of E!’s Fashion Police Guiliana Rancic’son-air apologyissued Tuesday.On an episode of the showthat aired Monday,Rancic mocked Coleman’s dreadlocked hairstyle, which she wore to the Academy Awards: “I feel that she smells like patchouli oil or weed,” Rancic said. “Yeah, maybe weed.”

Prior to Rancic’s apology, late Tuesday afternoon Kelly Osbourne, a co-host of the show, gave an ultimatum on Twitter:

A tweet typed in haste followed:

It was announced Feb. 27 that Osbourne decided to leave her position at Fashion Police“to pursue other opportunities.”

Our original post continues:

Zendaya Coleman

Actress Zendaya Coleman’s dreadlocks are making headlines after Guiliana Rancic, a host of E!’s Fashion Police, made a snarky, stereotypical and offensive comment about the 18-year-old Disney Channel star’s hairstyle.

During Fashion Police‘s annual debrief on the designer clothes, jewels and hairstyles of celebrities attending the Academy Awards, Rancic critiqued Coleman’s appearance thusly:”I feel that she smells like patchouli oil … or weed,” Rancic said. “Yeah, maybe weed.”

Matted coils of hair are an ancient African hairstyle historically worn by various cultures for religious purposes, including in Hinduism. The Rastafari movement is a religion, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. Its followers did coin the term “dreadlocks” for the hairstyle as it is incorporated into their belief system.

However, stereotypically the hairstyle is only associated with Rastas, who also practice spiritual use of cannabis, or “weed.”Western pop culture has equated the hairstyle with “smoking weed,” making light of the beliefs associated with it.

In terms of nonreligious purposes, some choose to wear dreadlocks as a statement of counterculture; some, simply for style.

Coleman took to social media to express her displeasure at Rancic’s comments:

“There’s a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful,” she wrote on Twitter. “Someone has said something about my hair at the Oscars that has left me in awe. 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.”

She included the names of famous Black women who chose to wear dreadlocks, including Ava DuVernay, director of Selma; Ledisi, a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and actress; and bestselling author Terry McMillian. “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,” Coleman wrote.

Rancic also took to social media to apologize for her statement, saying it wasn’t race related.

Some Twitter users pointed out that previously Rancic commented on Kylie Jenner’s wearing dreadlocks:

Black women’s choice of natural hairstyles seems to continually provoke criticism in mainstream culture. In January, a QVC host made light of a Black model’s natural hair during a live segment.

Black women often have to contemplatethe choice to wear straightened hairornatural hair, especially when working in a corporate environment.

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