Fashion Police is a show built on shitty comments and condescending snark. But co-host Giuliana Rancic crossed a line post-Oscars when she said of Zendaya’s long, lustrous locs (pictured below), “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil and weed.”
Rancic’s comment was outright offensive, and it spoke to an insidious beauty standard in this country that pushes women—of all ethnicities but arguably especially black women—to have long, straight hair. Today Show cohost Tamron Hall has previously shared that some viewers complain she looks “unprofessional” when she doesn’t straighten her hair. Similarly, Solange Knowles has repeatedly been criticized for refusing to align with this convention by embracing her natural texture. Solange offered her support to Zendaya on Twitter:
As for the Disney Kid, the 18-year-old Zendaya proved mature beyond her years (and most people, frankly), responding :
Rancic has since offered an apology, saying “This incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, how much damage they can do…And that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further.” But the grander point here is that Rancic felt the need to respond because the public was outraged on Zendaya’s behalf. This shit doesn’t slide anymore. And that may be the slimmest of silver lining’s we’ll find here.
As for Zendaya, she’s made no further response. She doesn’t need to. She won this battle without issuing a single blow. Brava, lady. You’re as smart as your look is flawless.
Kristy Puchko considers writing in the third person her own personal hell.