“Black Girls Have Been Magic Forever”


Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images
Photo credit: NBC – Getty Images

From Oprah Magazine

Actress and beauty icon Tracee Ellis Ross graces the cover of ELLE’s State of Black Beauty issue this week, a project meant to provide a framework to amplify and celebrate Black beauty. And she used the help of her longtime friend and fellow actress Kerry Washington to discuss what that vision means for the Black community in a one-on-one interview.

Nearly one year ago, the Girlfriends actress launched her haircare line Pattern Beauty, which she revealed was birthed out of a self-love journey and the realization that there wasn’t enough representation in the media of natural hair.

“All of the things that I was taught from the media were like, I was supposed to have easy breezy beautiful hair. Bouncin’ and behavin’. My hair didn’t blow in the wind! All of these things didn’t match up. There was a void, in both seeing ourselves in our natural, authentic beauty, and also having products that would work for us to do our hair naturally—to wear it the way it naturally came out of our heads,” she explained.

“The importance for me in the journey has been encouraging, inspiring, and making space for people to go on that journey with themselves. To have the courage to dive into their own legacy of hair as a way to love themselves and be revolutionary,” she told the Scandal star in the feature.

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Ellis Ross described the poignant trip she took to a beauty supply store in Los Angeles that inspired her to launch her own line. “One of the stylists was like, ‘You don’t know the amount of people that come in here with a picture of you pulled out of a magazine and they want your hair. If you were to do a line of products, you’d be a millionaire.’ I was like, ‘What? My hair?’ And, you know, there was no social media at the time so there was no connection between the community and me.”

And though Ellis Ross has long embraced her natural hair, oftentimes resembling her mother, the legendary Diana Ross, she recalled times when doing so was taboo, especially in the entertainment industry. “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.”

She credits several celebrities, including her mother, as well as Lisa Bonet, Cree Summers, Nicole Carson, and Rae Dawn Chong, for embracing their natural beauty early on, but marvels that now she can see TV anchors with curls and coils. “I realize that Black girls have been magic forever, but once we got this term, the world was able to see that magic in a way it wasn’t being received before,” she added.

Now, the 47-year-old Blackish actress uses her brand to make even more space for Black beauty. “When we care for ourselves and love on ourselves, we get to be included in the process of our beauty. We get to be incorporated into, and folded into our power,” she said.

In tandem with the inaugural issue, Elle.com also created digital videos and hair features, including one that delves into the personal hair stories from twenty Black women.

The project, which the brand says was led by an all-Black team, “pays homage to the history, resilience, and artistry of Black hair.”

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