Why Is Zendaya Coleman Always The Center Of Controversy?

July 1, 2015  |  

Well, it seems that folks are after Zendaya Coleman again.

As par for the course, Coleman victimization comes courtesy of some unidentified “hate” she received after unveiling a new yet temporary pixie-cut hairstyle at the BET Awards.

According to ABC News, “many” took to Twitter to rag on the Disney starlet’s hair during the broadcast. And in response, Coleman took to the same platform where folks were allegedly tormenting her and posted a couple of selfies. The caption: “When people don’t like your hair but they tweetin bout you tho….#idgaf #idgaf”

After the show, she responded to her hair haters again on Instagram with a video in which she yanked off the wig and ensured them that the cut was only temporary, showing off full, long hair.

This isn’t the first time Coleman has been the subject of hair-shaming. Earlier this year, all of Twitter, as well as a couple of celebrity friends (most notably Kelly Osbourne), came to her defense after Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic ragged on her hair. During an Academy Awards post-highlight show, Rancic said that Coleman’s faux dreadlocks looked like they smelled of patchouli and weed. In response to Rancic’s remarks the 18-year-old star of K.C. Undercover took to Instagram and said in part: “My wearing my hair in locks on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”

No doubt that this was a beautifully expressed sentiment in defense of a long misunderstood and berated hairstyle, which has been worn for years by celebrities and everyday hard-working citizens alike. But this time around, the alleged hair-shaming seems a little more dubious. In short, I have questions. For one, what’s so repulsive about a hairstyle, which has been worn by just about every third celebrity woman on the red carpet, from Halle Berry to NeNe Leakes? And secondly, who are these haters and what did they say exactly? Most of the responses I saw on Twitter about her red carpet hairstyle were pretty tame, if not complimentary.

I have to say that there is something a little attention seeking about the whole hair ordeal. And when it comes to these haters, I need to know [and in my T.I. voice]: Where. Dey. At. Doe?

To be honest, Coleman has been soaking up the sympathy since critics called into question her casting in the role of Aaliyah in the now infamous and disastrously-produced Lifetime biopic about the deceased star’s life. I’ll admit: I was one of those folks who wasn’t fond of the idea either. In short, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of this Disney princess faking urban. And as far as I was concerned, the entire casting choice was as laughable as the time when Michael Jackson tried to act tough in his “Bad” video. Or worse, when Jessica Alba faked homegirl in Honey. And yes, I know, Aaliyah wasn’t exactly super hood. But she did have a little edge to her and also rolled with the likes of Damon Dash and Jay Z, which was enough to get a couple notches on her street cred punch card. I just didn’t see that in Coleman.

Still, Coleman garnered a lot of attention from that controversy. Her name and her face were in every media outlet both stateside and abroad. Petitions were created to get her pulled from the film project. That includes this one by notorious African author Kola Boof, who said,“There is nothing about Coleman that reminds me of the Social Image or the Sociological folkways and Valuation that Aaliyah embodied and represented.”

And folks across the blogosphere were also writing very heartfelt essays in defense of her. Like this IndieWire piece written by Prachi Gupta which stated in part: “If Coleman sees herself as a black woman (though likely her identity is more complicated than that), is it fair for society to tell her that she’s not?” Coleman would eventually bow out of the film project, but when the dust cleared, she became a symbol of sorts for the debate about colorism and the need for intra-racial unity.

The same thing happened after Rancic’s ill-advised remarks. Granted, her comments were made during a show, which is structured around ragging on people about their appearance. Still, Rancic’s sentiments tapped into a very real pain centered around our current Eurocentric beauty standard. And once again, Coleman, who only wore the hairstyle once, became a symbol for the need to accept diverse beauty and hair.

Now, I am not saying that Coleman purposely caused herself to be the center of controversies around her faux dreadlocks and skin color. The Internet and Rancic did that on their own. But in an industry which relies on press, both good and bad, is it not at all plausible to think that something else could be going on this time around? Might she be trying to pull on people’s heartstrings again by dredging up old hair politics to gain some publicity and keep her name out there?

Think about it: If not for the controversies, why else would we be talking about her?

 

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