Talk about grace under fire. Zendaya Coleman is just 18 years old, but as she demonstrated this week with her handling of the Giuliana Rancic controversy over her Oscar night hair, she's already a pro in crisis management. On Wednesday, Feb. 25, after Rancic issued a second public apology (this one on-air) for her comments on Fashion Police, the former Disney star again took to Instagram with an eloquent, measured response.
"Studies have shown that even though we try to act without prejudice, sometimes it's just hidden inside us due to our past or surroundings," she wrote. "That hidden prejudice is often influential in our actions. It's our job to spot these issues within others and ourselves and destroy them before they become hurtful. I have so many people looking up to me, that I couldn't be scared, wait it out, nor could I just stand up for me; I had to do it for WE."
She went on to detail her initial reaction to Rancic's comments, which implied that the Shake It Up star's Oscars hair smelled like "patchouli oil."
"It is important in this journey to remember that just because someone has inflicted hurt upon us, it does not give us the right to do the same. Body shaming and other hurtful tactics will never get the job done," she wrote. "As hard as it was to stop MYSELF from being ignorant and from posting the first mean words that came to my mind because I was hurt, I had to think about the bigger picture. Instead I sat for two hours on my phone, doing my research and formulating an educated response."
That response, posted to Instagram in a similar fashion on Monday, Feb. 23, called out Rancic's Fashion Police comments about dreadlocks as "outrageously offensive" and hurtful. "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," she wrote. "To me locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion's mane."
Rancic responded to the post via Twitter on Monday night, saying she was sorry she had offended the young star. She also filmed a more formal apology for E! News, during which she admitted she crossed a line.
In her Instagram post on Wednesday, Zendaya graciously accepted the red carpet critic's mea culpa and urged her followers and supporters to do the same.
"Giuliana, I appreciate your apology and I'm glad it was a learning experience for you and for the network," she wrote. "I hope that others negatively affected by her words can also find it in their hearts to accept her apology as well. From a quote we all know by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.' Let's be that light and spread that love."