It’s a moment that’s been seared into pop culture history. Then 18-year-old Zendaya Coleman showed up to the Oscars in a Vivienne Westwood gown and faux locs decorated with hair jewelry.
The look was representative of the starlet’s style diversity and fresh take on fashion. But in an attempt to be funny, Giuliana Rancic trashed the look on Fashion Police saying Coleman looked like she smelled of “patchouli oil and weed.” The comment enraged many, and was very telling of how many Americans still view locs.
Zendaya’s classy Instagram response only emphasized how tasteless Rancic’s comments truly were.
“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 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…
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.”
Barbie’s announcement of a Zendaya Oscars doll as part of their Raise Your Voices initiative was a strong statement of inclusion and support for Coleman and loc’ed girls everywhere. The doll is absolutely gorgeous although it’s (unfortunately!) not available for purchase.
Black women on social media responded with overwhelming support and excitement about the Barbie, but a few felt that it contributed to the erasure of black women with locs, and expressed that in this LSA forum.
Zendaya became this overnight hero after wearing faux dreadlocks when millions of BLACK women wear real dreads all the time.
But if Barbies can have locs after this Z doll, I wanna see some dark skinned gals loc’d up in plastic form as well
they understand the controversy that lady on Fashion Police caused when she made that comment about Zendaya and her fake locks and they want to capitalize off of it.
While Coleman brought visibility to locs on the Oscars red carpet, she was also participating in a trend that many loc’ed naturals have expressed discomfort with.
To be fair Barbie did create a limited edition doll of history-making loc’ed Selma director Ava Duvernay as part of their Sheroes collection.
But the fact remains that black women with real locs still have very low visibility in the entertainment world. And when locs do appear they are not cast as chic, stylish and representative of feminine beauty. When Naomie Harris played a voodoo witch (ugh!) in Pirates of the Caribbean, she sported dark eye makeup, blackened teeth and faux locs.
And in movie World War Z, the zombie that is singled out as most heinous and dangerous is black with locs, played by actress Sarah Amankwah. (Incidentally she is also the only black woman character in the film… *sigh*)
In a recent interview, singer and actress Brandy stated that, if it wasn’t for her career she would have locs.
Even in the post-apocalyptic thriller The Walking Dead, breakout character Michonne’s (played by Danai Gurira) locs are very much part of her warrior woman character.
Where are the representations of real locs as beautifully feminine? Perhaps the mainstream isn’t receptive to that idea yet and more comfortable with the look as a trend.
To be clear we are excited about the gorgeous Zendaya Barbie! But we are also waiting for the day when actresses like Yanni King, who sported locs for many years before a recent big chop, are seen — really SEEN — for the tremendous beauty they possess.
Ladies, what are your thoughts?