Monday, April 15

Alopecia advocate praises Will Smith’s Oscars slap for ‘strength’

Will Smith was just defending his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, during Sunday evening’s Oscars ceremony, but for some who share the same medical condition, they felt protected, too.

After presenter Chris Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s bald-headed hairstyle — an outcome of the “Gotham” star’s condition, alopecia — Smith socked him onstage.

“Ex on the Beach” contestant ZaraLena Jackson, who also suffers from hair-loss illness and is an advocate on social media, is standing by Smith, 53, and his actions at the Dolby Theater.

The 29-year-old reality star told SWNS that while she doesn’t advocate for violence, Rock, 57, should have “known better.”

“I think it’s inappropriate to make any joke about someone with alopecia as it’s a condition that highly impacts mental health for that individual and isn’t a laughing matter,” she said.

Jackson continued, “To be clear, I don’t condone violence, but defending him Jada showed strength in my eyes and was very comforting to see a man stand by his woman when she has alopecia.”

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theater on March 27, 2022, in Hollywood.
Getty Images

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease which causes hair to fall out in clumps. While the amount of hair loss is different for everyone, some victims lose strands in only a few areas. The hair sometimes grows back in the bald spots.

She first appeared on the MTV reality show in 2017 and has been open about her alopecia journey.

Former “Ex on the Beach” contestant ZaraLena Jackson
Zara Lena Jackson / SWNS

“Being a comedian is very tongue in cheek and we all dislike when jokes are targeted as us, regardless of the subject, but he should have anticipated that response naturally and known better,” she added of Rock’s actions.

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The influencer first began losing patches of her blond hair in 2020 and then lost strands in her eyebrows and lashes. She soon became completely bald.

She then admitted that she had been victimized and bullied for her condition and hoped a partner stood up for her like the “King Richard” star did at the Oscars.

Jackson reiterated, “I’ve had friends and family joke about ‘let your hair down’ or ask to borrow a razor or shampoo, which I just laugh at because I know they mean no harm and it can be humorous to see them panic without thinking about the comment.”

Jackson said she's heard GI Jane jokes, too.
Jackson said she’s heard GI Jane jokes, too.
Zara Lena Jackson / SWNS

Rock referred to Pinkett Smith, 50, as “GI Jane,” and Jackson revealed that people have called her that name as well.

She explained, “I’ve had a few references to me with the GI Jane comment. I think GI Jane looks insane though so I wasn’t offended.”

The influencer first began losing patches of her blonde hair in 2020 and then lost strands in her eyebrows and lashes.  She soon became completely bald.
The influencer first began losing patches of her blonde hair in 2020 and then lost strands in her eyebrows and lashes. She soon became completely bald.
Zara Lena Jackson / SWNS

Her mom actually had “walked in” on Jackson in her dressing room one day and she didn’t have her wig on. The model recalls her mom saying, “Oh wow Zara, you look like a GI Jane babe!’”

She also often deals with snide comments such as others insinuating that she’s not “natural” anymore.

“For me, I always liked the idea of ​​natural beauty, and I’m not saying no hair isn’t beautiful, but I now wear wigs and put on eyebrows to look ‘normal’ or ‘natural,’” she said.

“If alopecia was taken as a medical condition and not cosmetic, the subject wouldn’t be joked around lightly,” Jackson argued.

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She added, “Everyone seems to make noise around the importance of mental health when a life is lost, yet won’t put changes in place to prevent or support the initial cause.”

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