This Morning Guest Dr Zoe Williams Releases Statement After Eamonn Holmes 'Alpaca' Hair Comment
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After discussing some of the day’s biggest health headlines with the ITV show's resident doctor earlier this week, stand-in host Eamonn – who is covering for Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby alongside wife Ruth Langsford – commented on Zoe’s afro hairstyle.
“Your hair reminds me of an alpaca today,” he said, as Zoe laughed awkwardly. “You just want to pet it, don’t you? It’s very alpaca-ish.”
And amid broad criticism about his "ignorant" comments on social media, Dr Zoe has now released a statement, addressing the situation.
"I know that many people may have been upset by Eamonn’s remark on air yesterday, and Eamonn has himself acknowledged that his comments made to me on This Morning were misjudged," she wrote.
"He has done the right thing by apologising to me directly; and I have accepted his apology.
"What I want to say is that I’m aware that his remarks, though meant without malice, have offended people. And if that comment had been made to me by a stranger, then I too would likely be offended.
"It was mis-judged and I think it’s fair to say that both Eamonn and I wish it hadn’t been said".
She went on: "I have had lots of comments and questions sent to me about what happened yesterday and I wanted to take a moment to reflect before responding.
"Sometimes it is difficult to know how to respond in these situations, so I feel it is best to speak honestly and from the heart.
"I feel torn as on the one hand it pains me to see the abuse that Eamonn has been receiving because of this (that’s not ok either). Eamonn is a friend of mine, he’s one of the most warm hearted people in television and has always been supportive of me and my career.
"But on the other hand it has opened the door to a conversation that I feel needs to be had. I’ve spent most of my life hearing comments about my hair from people who aren’t my friend, often combined with an attempt to touch my hair and it has a very different impact.
"After a lifetime of “laughing it off”, I am only just now learning to set boundaries for myself. These comments can be called micro-aggressions and I’m sure people watching who’ve had similar experiences reacted to yesterday’s comments just as if it had happened to them."
Dr Zoe explained: "Micro-gressions are normally subtle comments made towards minority ethnic or culturally marginalised groups that communicate derogatory, hostile or condescending options.
"The comments can be made with or without malicious intent but nevertheless are offensive to the person they’re directed at.
"Many people with afro/textured hair go to great lengths whether consciously or unconsciously to feel more accepted and/or avoid comments, judging and touching.
"I straightened my hair for years trying to fit in before deciding to wear my hair naturally, but now my afro is a part of my identity and I’m proud to show it off."
"You may be reading this and worrying that you have made inappropriate or hurtful comments. Perhaps you just didn’t know? It’s ok to get it wrong, we all do. What comes after the mistake is what matters most,’ she continued.
"If we care enough and are brave enough to do some deep, sometimes painful reflection and vow to make the necessary changes moving forwards then that is enough.
"Our society is in the process of change, much overdue change, for the better. It’s a shame we have to experience these extremely difficult and uncomfortable situations but they are all part of the journey.
"Comments about a persons’ appearance, whether a reflection of race or other side are more subject to criticism than ever before, and there is no place for them in public forums.
"So, my ask, would be that people are open to trying to understand where this upset comes from in order to make the necessary changes for future generations.
"And to those who were offended, my ask is not to take all of your frustrations out on one person who made a genuine mistake, but to use this example in a positive way to highlight and educate so that we can progress".
Eamonn's comments come after he and Zoe discussed Geronimo the Alpaca on the ITV magazine programme - an eight year old alpaca who has been ordered to be culled after he tested positive for bovine tuberculosis four years ago.
And following the moment airing, viewers were quick to brand the presenter's comments "ignorant" and hurtful.
Taking to Twitter as criticism of his comparison mounted, Eamonn wrote: "Hey everyone out there. If my attempt at being humorous with my friend Zoe was misjudged, I am mortified and humbly apologise to anyone who was offended."
Tyla contacted ITV at the time, for comment.