Zendaya’s slept-in unslick bun hairstyle feels revolutionary on the red carpet

zendaya on the red carpet with a blonde ponytail
Zendaya's no slick fluffy bun feels revolutionaryNeil Mockford - Getty Images

For Black women, or anyone with curly, coily or kinky hair, the idea of a 'messy bun' as an outside hairstyle – let alone a formal one – is wild. Throwing your hair back into a bun or ponytail freely with the odd whisp hanging out? It doesn't give cute and casual like it does with straight hair, it just looks dishevelled. At least, that's the perception. Sometimes, one is most firmly critiqued by ourselves. That's why Zendaya's glam at the LA premiere of her new movie Challengers is so, well, groundbreaking.

Here she is, an A-list movie star on a huge red carpet, wearing a fluffy, mussed-up, untamed bun. Whisps at the front, whisps at the back – this is what textured hair being casually tied up looks like (though we do know this is the careful work of a celeb hairstylist).

zendaya los angeles premiere of amazon mgm studios
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin - Getty Images

I even asked my colleagues, "Do we think this is bleached hair and humidity? Or was this intentional?". Because, despite knowing that the crown jewel of the premiere would have her glam squad on hand to fix the slightest deviation, I couldn't quite believe it.

zendaya los angeles premiere of amazon mgm studios challengers
Steve Granitz - Getty Images

But why can't afro hair textures be worn unmanipulated and untamed in the same way looser textures can? There's a cultural standard for our hair to be perfectly presented and neat even when we wear 'undone' natural styles. That we can't for a moment look scruffy. But look how stunning Zendaya looks.

I can't say I'll be wearing this look to any formal events just yet – as I'm not a movie star – so it probably would look like I just hadn't bothered, but is it encouraging me not to be so vigilant with my slick stick? And not to lament my braids as messy a couple of weeks in? Well, it's encouraging me to try!

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