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Tracee Ellis Ross: 'I could chronicle my journey of self-acceptance through my journey with my hair'

Dana Oliver
·3 min read
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My Beauty, My Way is a video series hosted by Yahoo Life beauty director Dana Oliver, where women of different ages and backgrounds break down their beauty routines to explain what beauty truly means to them and how it represents their cultural identity.

Like many Black women who were born in the mid-to-late 1980s, I turned to TV shows that were popular during the ‘90s and aughts to escape common insecurities teens face. With the flick of a remote control, I was able to forget about shrinking into a corner because of my dark complexion, kinky hair texture and lanky frame.

My attention was drawn to Black characters on Living Single, Moesha and Girlfriends who oozed self-confidence. I’d add these female leads to my mental mood board in hopes that someday — and hopefully sooner than later — I’d be able to embrace all aspects of myself with the same boldness. But little did I know that Tracee Ellis Ross, who portrayed the successful and impeccably styled attorney Joan Clayton, struggled with accepting her enviable curls in real life.

The award-winning actress and producer shares in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Life that she was “sort of navigating as a young girl an industry and a standard of beauty that didn’t seem to make space” for her. Ross says, “On top of not seeing myself reflected back, also not knowing where or how to find the products to support my hair in its authentic form, how it grew out of my head and how to find different variations of styles.”

After years of trial and error and then being thrust into the spotlight with her role on Girlfriends, Ross says she soon realized that she was not alone in feeling like she “didn’t fit in,” that her “hair was not worthy,” “unlovable” or “not sexy enough because her hair didn’t blow in the breeze.”

These emotions and experiences pushed her to seek more knowledge and ultimately led to her creating Pattern Beauty, a hair care line formulated for textured hair. As the founder and CEO, Ross believes that it sis important not only to develop products for people to style their curls, kinks and coils in “their full glory,” but to also genuinely listen and speak to this community.

How we honor the truth of our hair and who we are is one of the ways that we honor and celebrate ourselves. Tracee Ellis Ross

“There was a paradigm that just didn't make space for us and how we were communicated to, how we were sold to, how our beauty was mirrored back to us,” she explains. “That's what the company has been based on. Meeting those unmet needs and being an active space for the celebration of our beauty.”

For Ross, hair care is self-care and she’s been giving her locks lots of love during the pandemic. The star has become quite good at braiding —even learning the signature Pop Smoke braids — and indulges in scalp massages.

Pattern Beauty’s latest launch, which includes a Scalp Serum and Treatment Mask, is an extension of Ross’s beauty philosophy of caring and honoring oneself. The products are perfect for a “self-care Sunday” routine, or any day of the week, and they are made with scalp-soothing and hair strengthening ingredients such as peppermint, rosemary and lavender oils and rice water ferment and moringa seed extract.

“It was a journey to get here, but one of the things that’s so important to me is carrying the legacy into the present moment and taking those time-honored rituals that we all have benefited from, even if we didn't know we did, and modernizing them and sort of bringing them into this current moment.”

My beauty is an honest expression of my soul. Tracee Ellis Ross

Shop Pattern Beauty products below:

Video produced by Nurys Castillo

Follow Tracee Ellis Ross on Instagram and learn more about Pattern Beauty at patternbeauty.com.

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