Kathryn Lindsay
January 21, 2016 6:27 am

Actress and singer Zendaya is a role model for both her confidence and her honesty, especially when it comes to body image. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t times when she doubted herself. The 19-year-old grew up in a culture where she was often surrounded by people who didn’t look anything like her. She opened up to PeopleStyle about this feeling, and how it affected her self-image, especially when it came to her curly hair.

“Growing up, I wasn’t very confident in my curls,” she explains. “It wasn’t like the hair that girls around me had. And nobody really knew what to do with my hair. My mom is white and my dad is black — they have two very different hair types. So we learned how to manage my hair together, and I also watched YouTube videos to find easy styles to do.”

However, this doesn’t mean she was totally happy. “Obviously you want what you can’t have, so I wanted different hair than what I had,” she admits. It took a lot of growing up before she was able to make her hair her own. “When I was younger, I was afraid to experiment with my look because I was worried about what people thought,” she says. “But as I’ve gotten older and become more confident in myself, I just don’t care.”

If you rewind roughly one year, Zendaya’s gorgeous hair was the topic of very public controversy. Zendaya wore her hair in beautiful locs to the Oscars prompting Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic to say Zendaya, “Looks like she smells like patchouli oil.” Kelly Osbourne chimed in saying, “Or weed.” The backlash to those statements was swift and totally understandable. Zendaya handled it with grace proving that what she said about hair and confidence wasn’t just lip service. In fact, the Zendaya Barbie now rocks her Oscars loc.

Now, Zendaya’s using that confidence to inspire those around her, especially the girls who are the same age she was when she first felt this insecurity. “I like who I am, and I hope that I can help a lot of other young women get there,” she explains. “I think that a big part of that is showing that you can dress and wear your hair however you want. People will say whatever they have to say, but as long as you feel good and you feel confident and you’re taking those steps to feel comfortable with yourself, then you’re good!”

Related reading: 

The beautiful way Zendaya defended her parents from trolls

What the Zendaya hair controversy says about casual racism

(Image via Michael Tran/Getty Images)

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