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Updated on Jul 12, 2018. Posted on Dec 6, 2015

12 Times Zendaya Schooled Us All In 2015

She may be young, but damn is she wise.

1. When she taught trolls the true meaning of "ugly."

In January, Zendaya swiftly shut down a Twitter user who called her ugly with a photo of her looking totally flawless and not bothered, obviously. But after another (just barely comprehensible) troll called her parents ugly, Queen Z took her mom and dad's lead and turned the experience into a teaching moment. In perhaps the classiest burn ever, she responded that her parents were "two of the most selfless people in the world... who have dedicated their lives to teaching, cultivating, and filling young shallow minds."

*Crosses fingers that the instigators were smart enough to learn from this.*

2. And when she reminded some sexist rando that his opinion does not, in fact, matter.

When a Twitter account for would-be Don Juans (were it not for all that mouth breathing and hiding out in their parents' basements) targeted makeup artist Shannon Harris with a, um, super original meme, Z decided not to sit back and let another woman be criticized for (gasp!) her natural appearance. Her response shut down the original post in a way that only 64,000 or so retweets and favorites could.

3. When she had to tell a magazine staffed by grown-ass adults that an unreasonably retouched shoot was not going down like that.

Zendaya / Via

In October, Zendaya went public with her disappointment in Modeliste's decision to whittle her already petite frame down even more in published photos. Z posted the original and retouched images next to one another, calling herself an advocate for "honest and pure self love," and explaining she felt it necessary to call the magazine out because "These are the things... that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have."

But, like... obviously, right?

4. Plus when she responded to racist comments with far more grace than we would...

Christopher Polk / Getty Images

Zendaya made news back in February when E! Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic, commenting on this year's Oscars red carpet, said her dreadlocks looked like they smelled like "patchouli oil" or "weed."

Zendaya hit back with a powerful statement via Instagram, explaining (incredibly patiently for the people in the back) that she wore her hair in locs on Oscar night "to remind people of color that our hair is good enough," and that "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."

5. ... and inspired tons of little girls in the process.

Zendaya / Via

Representation is important, y'all.

6. And then, when she got her own damn Barbie doll.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Not only did Mattel manufacture a doll in Zendaya's likeness--they made one rocking her absurdly criticized Oscar look, turning its legacy from Rancic's racist assumption to that of a role model for girls everywhere.

7. When she ~slayed~ homage to the powerful women who came before her.

Andrew Stiles /
Andrew Stiles /

In October, Zendaya teamed up with hairstylist Larry Sims and Mane Addicts for a photoshoot in honor of groundbreaking women like Diana Ross, Grace Jones, and Cher. And — no surprise here — she looked totally incredible in all of them.

8. When she gave the haters something to tweet about.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

The Mane Addicts shoot wasn't Z's only major hair transformation of the year; at June's BET Awards, she stunned in a dress as sparkly as it was tiny, and a pixie cut that proved she DGAF. She will cast a spell on you with that hair, though.

9. When she kindly but firmly educated the masses about cultural appropriation.

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

"Some things are really sacred and important to other cultures, so you have to be aware politically about those things before you just adopt them," Zendaya told Nylon in July. "I urge people to take the extra step of knowledge and learn about things... I just think with the internet and the resources we have, you should do a little research."

See, guys? It's not that hard after all.

10. When, for her birthday, she was more interested in giving than receiving.

Zendaya / Via

Most 19-year-olds ask for clothes, electronics, or maybe even a car for their birthdays. Zendaya asked her fans to help improve the lives of three orphaned South African brothers.

After meeting the brothers, whose parents died of AIDS, Z decided she'd like to celebrate the big 1-9 by organizing a Crowdrise campaign to support them. In the single month it was live, the campaign raised over $50,000.

11. And when she shared a major magazine cover with fellow proponents of social justice.


In November, Zendaya appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine's 70th anniversary issue alongside singer and activist Harry Belafonte and Grey's Anatomy's Jesse Williams, who often uses his platform to discuss police brutality and other manifestations of racial inequality. That's a serious crew you're rolling with, Z.

12. And when on top of all that, she became a proud high school graduate.

Zendaya / Via

Given all her accomplishments and badassery, it's sometimes hard to remember Queen Z is only 19. After her high school graduation in June, she posted a photo to Instagram along with the caption, "Shout out, not just to all the 2015 grads but to the soon to be! Please remember knowledge is one of the most powerful gifts we have the privilege of receiving... don't take that for granted.

"To every soon to be grad, know that you CAN do it! It's a long road, so many things will pose as obstacles in your way and at times the end seems further and further away, but please remember the importance of that beautiful mind you have and all the limitless powers you hold."

Thank you, young queen, for bestowing all that beauty and wokeness upon us.