Fashion Police's Academy Awards special on Feb. 23 angered viewers after host Giuliana Rancic described Zendaya's locs as making her look like she "smells like patchouli oil." "Or weed," someone added.
"Maybe weed," Rancic agreed.
The hairstyle was a new look for the young singer, who most recently sported a pixie cut.
People were horrified at the comment, which many interpreted as racially loaded.
Some also pointed out the hypocrisy of the comment, because Rancic has praised Kylie Jenner for wearing dreadlocks.
Zendaya herself took to Twitter to write a passionate statement about being "hit with ignorant slurs and pure disrespect," listing scores of inspiring people who also rock the hairstyle.
"To say that an 18-year-old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or 'weed' is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive," she wrote.
The singer and actress, who has been a frequent guest host on the show, added:
"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. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough."
Rancic wrote an apology on Twitter, saying her comments had "NOTHING to do with race."
Osbourne also chimed in an hour later, saying that she and Zendaya are friends.
Osbourne denied being a part of the conversation on Twitter, saying she might leave the show because of the accusations. The post has been update as it's not clear whether Osbourne or Kathy Griffin made the comment.
Representatives for E! did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
On Tuesday night, E! released a video message from Rancic, apologizing to Zendaya "and anyone else out there that [she has] hurt."