Tracee Ellis Ross talks about her lifelong journey to come to terms with her natural hair and recognize the influence and responsibility she has as a black woman in Hollywood.
“Black women and our hair have been at the center of social, cultural, political and economic revolutions and movements over time. We hold so much power in our beauty, ”the actress said in a State of Black Beauty cover story for She. “Our beauty is filled with love and joy and an emotional intelligence that reaches spaces that allow us to connect with each other in such sacred ways.
The 47-year-old actress best known for her roles in Girlfriends and Blackish spoke with her friend and fellow actress Kerry Washington for the story where the two discussed Ross’s popular hair care line that launched almost a year ago called Pattern. And while the brand has seen major success in the growing market for natural hair products, Ross explains that the idea for the brand was created from a lack of representation that it has experienced since it was launched. young.
“It started out as a personal relationship with my own hair, and a feeling that I didn’t have the support to find what I needed. Not just in terms of the products, but in terms of how to love me, ”Ross said in Washington. “I was very supported in my family around my hair. But as far as seeing all kinds of versions in the wallpaper of my life in the world, I didn’t see it. And I was getting confused. All the things the media taught me was like, I was supposed to have beautiful, manageable hair. Bounce back and behave. My hair was not blowing in the wind! All of these things did not match. “
The actress explained that she grew up swimming and running – two activities that would affect the look and texture of her hair in ways she couldn’t understand because she didn’t. saw other people who had been through the same thing or found ways to take good care of it. “There was a void, both in seeing ourselves in our natural, authentic beauty, and also in having products that would allow us to style our hair naturally – to wear it as it naturally came out of our heads,” she says. about girls her age with natural hair.
After being put in the spotlight, Ross’s hair would become more of a focal point. Not just for herself, but for those who watched her on TV and saw natural hair like theirs for the first time. “Just before Girlfriends finished … I used to shop at all the beauty stores that were on Wilshire and one of the stylists said to me, ‘You don’t know how many people come here with a picture of you pulled from a magazine and they want your hair. If you had to create a line of products, you would be a millionaire. I was like, ‘What? My hair? », She remembers.
It was then that she started looking for opportunities to connect with the people who were watching her based on her natural hair and black beauty. While social media didn’t exist, it meant showing up in places where women like her would be.
“I went to an event for Curly Nikki, who was one of the original natural hair care bloggers and there was a line of women around the block, all wearing their hair naturally. It was the first time that I saw the great community. This is what started to give me this idea. But the journey has been slow, ”Ross said. “Our beauty was not part of the beauty standard or culture. There was no real framework to hold.
Almost a year after the launch of Pattern in September 2019, the Ross brand has already launched new products and campaigns that go beyond the mission of providing effective products for natural curls and texture. “The second part of the mission is to be an active space to celebrate the darkness and the power of black beauty,” she said.
Even with a successful platform and brand, Ross recognizes that black women like her continue to be marginalized and even silenced, meaning her mission to self-accept is never over.
“It’s so hard. It’s a painstaking daily journey,” she shared. “It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself. As a woman and as a black woman, standing up for yourself is actually a challenge. form of resistance.This is how each of us pushes the world to make real estate reflect the reality of who we are and what we deserve.
Still, Ross has hope for black women and black beauty. “There has been a real change. … I realize that black girls have always been magic, but once we got that term the world got to see this magic in a way it hadn’t been received before, ”he said. she declared. “When we take care of ourselves and love ourselves, we come to be included in the process of our beauty. We come to be incorporated and folded in our power.
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