Thirsting For Tracee Ellis Ross’s Curls Changed My Life: How My Hair Journey Turned Into A Holistic Health Journey

March 15, 2013  |  


Though it is a bit embarrassing to admit now, my going natural was a very vain venture in the beginning. All I wanted was a bouncy, juicy ‘fro like Tracee Ellis Ross.

That was it.

That was my sole reason and goal. So I transitioned for about two and a half years with a series of semi-big chops, weaves, hundreds of dollars worth of product-junkism and perhaps a gold mine worth of psychotherapy behind seeking a head full of someone else’s hair with no luck in that direction.

What I didn’t fully understand until the past few months is that I educated myself immensely in the way of health and fitness and just total body care all while seeking that infamous “Joan Clayton ‘fro.”

I was beginning to love my hair and take my health more seriously in a way I had never given a second thought to, being that my metabolism has always been so high that at my heaviest I was 120 lbs. and at my smallest (yes, even in my adult life) I am 105 lbs. I was researching clean-eating regimens and which foods battle cancer the best. I was keeping journals of my goals both heath-related and faith-related. I was taking a more active approach to my holistic health than I ever deemed necessary before.

And it felt good. I felt good. I was no longer only concerned with the best ways to turn thin hair into thick luxurious locks. Or how to best attain length. My focus was shifting toward the overall HEALTH of my hair and body and mind. I started to accept that I inherently have thinner hair and embraced that fact, choosing styles that best accentuate what I love about myself. I embraced the fact that I am thin and began to work toward maintain healthy weight and eating habits.

I looked up one day and realized that from wanting Joan Clayton hair I was now a more socially conscious young woman, reading the labels of my hair products to make sure they were “Cruelty Free.” It’s even to the point that I take the time to research the different superstores where I purchase my hair and body products to ensure their employment practices are suitable. I recently decided to stop patronizing one superstore in particular when I found that they do no support unions for their employees.

I sat down one day and looked at all I had become, just from one vain moment of wanting to be like someone else and gave a laugh of joyful amazement. I loved who I was becoming. I LOVED her. It wasn’t just about a pretty ‘fro anymore – although once I stopped obsessing over it, my ‘fro decided to be the flyest chick in the game. No offense, Tracee, you’ll always be my inspiration!

This natural hair movement (and it IS a movement) morphed from the silliest of vanities to the most revelatory all-encompassing experiences of my life. And the deeper I choose to go, the more I’m consequently choosing to grow.

My hope for all who are embarking on the natural journey is that you find the same peace, sense of self, consciousness and zest for life that I found.

La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe

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  • chanela

    it kind of disturbs me how natural haired black women clamor over tracee ellis ross’s hair. that woman is biracial!

    • tiredofthebs

      Your comment reflects how you think. You completely dismissed how something that the author started in vain turned into an awareness of self and gave her life new meaning.
      This is why we have so many problems in our community, some of us focus on trivial things like hair, instead of what’s in a person head.
      You state “how natural haired black women clamor over tracee ellis ross’s hair. that woman is biracial!” confirms that you know NOTHING about natural Black hair. I’m not mixed and my hair is very similar to T. E. Ross. Our hair ranges from tightly coiled, to curly and believe it or not, some straight.
      It is my hope that you focus on more important issues in life, and learn to take in a complete story, instead of 1% of it.

      • Anon

        The problem within our community starts with ‘differences’ and ‘superficiality’. We’ve never been a truly united collective people. A label of assumed homogeneity was imposed upon us. People parade around, tossing about the idea of black unity and put on airs of collectivism when it’s truly a big facade.

        Another problem within our community is perception. You think hair is a trivial matter, but not so trivial that you would call the author out for writing about it? The focal point of this article is, indeed, hair. Why not accuse the author of being shallow if you’re going to attack the poster for their suggestion?

        A third problem is blood quantum and the dilution of our original West-central African traits through intermixing. Jumping back to the perception for a minute; there is a perception that true black features, stemming from our West-Central African origins (descendants of slaves), don’t included Tracee Ellis Ross’ hair grade. As a matter of fact, her hair grade is more close in proximity to that of many non-mixed whites, and people of other non-black/African backgrounds – Unless we’re talking Horn of Africans and other Arab mixed black populations, but that’s another issue. And, as a matter of fact, blacks displaying her hair grade have long been accepted by main stream media, and white society in general. It’s the kinkier textures that had not been widely accepted.

        Question: If Tracee Ellis Ross had Viola Davis’ grade of hair, that she wore out, would she have been cast in “Girlfriends”, would the show’s producers have allowed her to wear that hair out on set, being filmed?

        When you interject certain, already accepted hair grades, into the Natural Hair Movement, many see that is unfair, misrepresentation, trivializes…

        Part of the movement is about holistics; however the brunt of the purpose is gaining social acceptance, in every day life in Hollywood, for those with certain hair grades.

        Within the context of the new natural hair movement, hair-textures such as that of Ross’ have less significance BECAUSE they’d already been accepted in society before the natural hair movement reached it’s height, or pivotal point.

        The movement was more for the kinkier, less seen, less embraced, more loathed, detested, demonized, ridiculed, shamed, hidden, textures…

        But in applying ODR and the general black race blanket label, once again, it makes it convenient to trivialize the true purpose of the movement and divert the focus, blinding us with this message of inter-ethnicity (multi-raciality; post-blackness bs) just when those at the VERY bottom of the aesthetic totem pole of social acceptance finally gain some social redemption, foot-hold and/or respect for that one, unaltered, physical trait they have naturally.

        You speak about OUR RANGES of hair types – if you define that under the lie of the One Drop Rule and RACE, they range from cotton kinky coily to bone straight.

        But this hair movement was originally, was to defy the white aesthetic social norm, and choosing a white biracial as an inspiration in the movement that doesn’t do it for me, or a lot of other women.

        Let’s go back 10 years when most of the black tv/film female leads were middle phenotype like Tracee Ross, who had that in-between (my ancestors didn’t get of the boat with this) hair type, and who wore them out naturally on set.

        • Tiredofthebs

          You wrote an entire novel, when the reality is that the author stated how something she started in vain, changed, which to me, is more important than hair.

          I really believe that ur writing an article is just to display ur intelligence, but it’s unnecessary, I know who I am and my history, and like I said before it’s pathetic for someone to read an article abt a life changing experience and the first response they give is abt something superficial.

          All your talk abt phenotypes and ten years ago has nothing to do w this article, we are so obsessed with image that a simple article written by a Black woman abt one of her feautures turns into a debate, n it’s annoying.

    • Anon

      You can’t say that without assuming that the author of this article has a certain grade of hair.

      • chanela

        i wasn’t talking about the author though. i was just bringing it up! i know it came out wrong, but whenever i go to natural hair sites/blogs they’re usually striving for and fawning over 3C hair and post pictures of biracial women like tracee. i thought the natural hair movement was supposed to embrace afrotextured hair/all textured hair

    • Ashley

      I’m not sure you understood the message behind this article:

      I was searching for a look that I believed would make me look “good.” I loved Tracee’s hair. I went for that. What I discovered while going hard trying to get HER look was my own unique style. My interests evolved. My social awareness grew. My appreciation for good health and holistic practices grew.

      Whether Ms. Ross is biracial is immaterial to… anything, really.

      Peace to you,

      La Truly