Tracee Ellis Ross on the Legacy of Black Hair

Illustration for article titled Tracee Ellis Ross on the Legacy of Black Hair
Photo: Rich Fury / Stringer (Getty Images)

For the latest cover of Elle, actor Tracee Ellis Ross discussed beauty, the politics of Black natural hair, and her haircare line Pattern Beauty in an interview with Kerry Washington. According to Ross, her journey to creating her own haircare brand was been a long time in the making—in fact, it began towards the end of her popular show Girlfriends and at the beginning of the boom in the natural hair movement, when a stylist in a beauty supply store told Ross how often Black women were coming into the shop asking for their hair to look like hers.

“I think back to 10 years ago, I went to the Essence Music Festival and a woman was like, “Girl, you’re on TV. You need to get your hair done.” And I was like, “What do you mean?” She was like, “Put some heat on your hair! What are you doing?” Growing up, we all went through this experience, where straight hair was your dressed-up hair. The blowout, silky-whatever meant you became more presentable, more appropriate. It was your dressy, sexy version of you. I see such an evolution on that narrative and I’m so grateful for it.”

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For years, Tracee Ellis Ross has been known for her bold beauty choices—not just when it came to fashion and makeup, but more notably in terms of her hair. I mean, look at the material. Ross’s approach to her hair is undoubtedly innovative, but she’s clear to identify that the styles she’s known for are part of a much longer history of Black hair and Black beauty.

“This is not some new phenomenon. Braids are not new. Cornrows are not new. Twists are not new. Bantu knots are not new. If our hair could talk, it would tell you of our legacy. Black beauty is timeless and holds such a story that I am so grateful to be a part of, and to continue allowing it to unfold through me. Black women and our hair have been at the center of social, cultural, political, and economic revolutions and movements through time. We hold so much power in our beauty.”

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On the ‘our story’ page of the Pattern Beauty website, it reads: “Don’t feel the need to “tame”, “control” or “stifle” your curls & coils. Let them free.” [Elle]


In case you also can’t get enough of Tracee’s hair in this shot.


Page Six reports that R. Kelly, the R&B singer and alleged sexual predator, has been placed in solitary confinement for protection purposes after he was attacked by a fellow prisoner in his cell in Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. Kelly is currently in prison awaiting trial on a number of child sex abuse charges, but some of his fans have chosen to still support him. Just a week ago, there was reportedly “Free R. Kelly” protests in Chicago, where people demanded “justice” for the singer (?????????). It’s astonishing, the lengths people will go to justify and excuse the behavior of even the most horrific of alleged abusers.

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Apparently, the attack occurred because the other prisoner was angry over recent lockdowns caused by “Free R. Kelly” protestors outside the prison.

“My understanding is, everytime there is a pro-R. Kelly protest outside of the jail, they lock down the entire facility,” the lawyer said during a brief interview.

“When they do this, inmates don’t get their commissary, they don’t get their shower, stuff like that and since they’re fairly sporadic anyway, they get upset. So they’re penalizing everyone in the facility because people are protesting in support of Kelly.”

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Incarceration is deeply inhumane, and it’s horrifying (though not surprising) to learn that all of the other prisoners in this federal prison are being deprived of basic necessities just because there are people foolish enough to continue to support a man accused of such horrific acts of sexual violence. [Page Six]


  • The internet has rediscovered clips from when Shemar Moore was a Soul Train judge in the early 00s, and they are delightful. [Bossip]
  • Halle Berry wants to represent herself in the final stages of her divorce. [Vanity Fair]
  • Apparently Brad Pitt was spotted out with his new boo Nicole Poturalski months before the news of them dating broke. [Us]

Freelance writer who loves sandwiches, astrology, & fighting on the internet.

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DISCUSSION

itsnotaboutthepasta
itsnotaboutthepasta

As a white woman with extremely fine hair, I feel awful every time I hear a Black woman describe this kind of pressure. My limp, boring hair that won’t even hold a curl if you douse it in hairspray should definitely not be the standard of beauty - the styles that women with kinky hair can create are so stunning.