Alopecia sufferer who’s been called GI Jane praises Will Smith for Chris Rock Oscars slap

An Ex on the Beach contestant defended Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, claiming she has also been called GI Jane

The acclaimed actor, 53, slapped comedian Chris Rock, 57, at Sunday night’s awards ceremony over a quip about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

ZaraLena Jackson has praised Will Smith for defending his wife at the Oscars (Photo: ZaraLena Jackson / SWNS)

Rock joked that Jada, 50, was set to make GI Jane 2 as a result of her hair condition, prompting Smith to storm the stage and slap him in the face.

The actor then yelled “keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth!” after returning to his seat.

Reality star ZaraLena Jackson, who also suffers from alopecia, firmly backed Smith’s actions and said that while she does not condone violence, Rock should have “known better”.

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ZaraLena suffers from alopecia and was diagnosed in 2020 (Photo: ZaraLena / SWNS)

The Ex on the Beach star, 29, said: “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.

"I heard Chris made a GI Jane comment, which I’ve had before myself. I saw Will’s reaction and all I thought was, ‘where can I get one of those?’.

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

"Being a comedian is very tongue in cheek and we all dislike when jokes are targeted at us, regardless of the subject, but he should have anticipated that response naturally and known better.”

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‘Alopecia can make you feel so alone’

ZaraLena, from Preston, Lancashire, had long luscious locks when she first appeared on MTV’s Ex on the Beach in 2017, before turning to Instagram as an influencer after leaving the show.

The model then saw huge clumps of her hair fall out in 2020 and was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease alopecia.

Within six weeks of her diagnosis she had no body hair left and said the hair loss felt like “torture”, leaving her feeling “stripped” of her identity.

She claims that she has also been the victim of cruel jibes about the condition and said she would feel appreciative if she had a partner that stood up for her like Smith did for his wife.

The model said she has also been referred to as GI Jane because of her condition (ZaraLena Jackson / SWNS)

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She said: “It totally depends on who has made the joke. I’ve had it all - I’ve had strangers say ‘hey baldy’ which doesn’t phase me at all, I am bald.

"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.

"I’ve had a few reference me with the GI Jane comment. I think GI Jane looks insane though so I wasn’t offended. My mum actually walked in on me in my dressing room the other day without a wig and she went, ‘oh wow Zara, you look like a GI Jane babe!’

"I guess any comments around my alopecia depends on who they come from and what context they’re said in. I’m quite thick skinned around it now so not much can phase me personally any more.

"The worst snide comment for me is, ‘oh wow, nothing is natural any more, is it?’.

"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’.

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"I don’t have a partner currently, but if I did and he defended me, I’d feel comforted and proud.

"I’d probably be a little annoyed about the violence, as it’s not the way for dealing with confrontation, but alopecia has its way of making a person feel so alone, so having someone defend me at times when I’m targeted would be amazing.

"Will has clearly been with Jada throughout her hair loss journey and has seen first hand the impacts of how much hair loss can impact someone, so I can understand his anger towards anyone using that for humorous material in public.

"If alopecia was taken as a medical condition and not cosmetic, the subject wouldn’t be joked around lightly. 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, in my opinion.”