Disney's Newest Activist: Zendaya
"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." This is a short excerpt from the Disney Channel actress, singer, and activist Zendaya Coleman in addressing E! Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic's racist comments on Zendaya's dreadlocks at the Oscar's this past year. After Rancic commented that her dreadlocks probably smelled like "patchouli oil... or weed", the actress maturely brought the issue of black hair in Hollywood into the spotlight and stood her ground to proclaim that black hair is beautiful and acceptable to wear. Mattel honored Zendaya's bravery and courage by embodying her Oscar's look into a Barbie doll, according to Michelle Chidoni, a spokesperson for Mattel to"commemorate that particular red carpet look where she had a moment of confidence that was so positively received." The K.C. Undercover actress also hosted the Barbie Rock n' Royals Concert Experience on September 26 at the Hollywood Palladium, which was an event to encourages young girls to feel empowered and raise their voices.
Zendaya has also dominated the fashion world, rocking all types of looks, hairstyles and trends with her own particular flair. A recent photoshoot for Mane Addicts, photographed by Andrew Styles and styled by Law Roach, models Zendaya sporting different hairstyles inspired by women such as Grace Jones, Diana Ross, and Cher. Famous for switching hairstyles on the red carpet, Zendaya credits her personal stylist Roach for her progressive and evolving looks. Whether it be a pixie cut or a bob wig, Zendaya seamlessly and professionally integrates different looks.
Recently, Zendaya addressed body issues and unrealistic beauty expectations after releasing an unaltered photo of herself from her Modeliste photoshoot. The singer was shocked to find her torso and hips slimmed and took to Instagram to release the original photos and address the issue. "These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have," said Zendaya, after posting both the before-and-after photos side-by-side. "Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love. So I took it upon myself to release the real pic." The magazine posted a letter online in response, where Editor-in-Chief Amy McCabe said she was pulling the magazine in order to "have the images restored to their original, natural state."
Whether it be through her fashion statements or her bold declarations on societal perceptions and beauty standards, Zendaya is a key role model in a generation where everything is posted for the world to see. She acknowledges to embrace one's inner beauty and inspires younger and older people to rise against the challenges they meet with open-mindedness and confidence.
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