Tracee Ellis Ross has a lot to be happy about. The Blackish star’s career is at its height, she is a Golden Globe winner, she put out a clothing line with JCPenney and she’s been on magazine cover after magazine cover. The 45-year-old may be living her best life right now, but while speaking at Glamour’s 2017 Women of the Year Summit, she talked about the fact that some (well, many) treat her as though her life is still missing meaning because she’s not married with children.
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“It’s really interesting to be a woman and to get to 45 and not be married and not have kids,” she said during her Summit speech. “Especially when you have just pushed out your fifth kid on TV. You start hearing crazy sh-t like: ‘Oh, you just haven’t found the right guy yet,’ ‘What are you going to DO?’ ‘Oh, you poor thing,’ ‘Why is someone like you still single?’ ‘Have you ever thought of having kids?’ ‘Why don’t you just have a kid on your own.’ It’s never ending and not helpful.”
It’s especially unhelpful when Ross considers that she’d dreamed of her wedding gown as a kid, “corseted with multiple Antique Victorian camisoles spilling off of my shoulders,” and “having a baby boy named Lauren.” But the star also says that she dreamed about winning an Oscar and being on the cover of magazines like her mother and making a difference as a public figure. When it comes to those dreams, she is happy to say that “I have become a woman that I am proud to be.”
Still, when she says things like that, Ross said people find a way to try and get her to question herself.
“And then someone tells me about their friend who adopted a child at 52 and how ‘it’s never too late for your life to have meaning,’ and my worth gets diminished as I am reminded that I have ‘failed’ on the marriage and carriage counts. Me! This bold, liberated, independent woman.”
But her expectations for herself and for what it means to be a woman finally started to change when Ross says she wrote four little words down in her journal and truly began to believe in them. “My life is mine.” She stopped seeking permission to live life on her terms, whether that be through her dating choices, her outspokenness, or through being just fine without saying “I do” and having the “happily ever after” people expect all women to want and pursue.
“‘My life is mine.’ Those words stopped me in my tracks,” she said. “And honestly, they brought tears to my eyes. Seems so obvious, but obviously it wasn’t. Because I have NOT been living my life as if it was my own. I mean to a certain extent yes but on a deep level no. So, if my life is actually mine…then I have to really live it for myself. I have to put myself first and not be looking for permission to do so.”
“So here I am sorting out what MY LIFE looks like when it’s fully mine,” she continued. “It takes a certain bravery to do that. It means risking being misunderstood, perceived as alone and broken, having no one to focus on, fall into or hide behind, having to be my own support and having to stretch and find family love and connection outside of the traditional places. But, I want to do it. I
want to be the Brave Me, the real me, the one whose life is my own.”
In her inspiring 11-minute speech, Ross ends by stating that she is going from just regular ol’ Tracee to Brave Tracee, the brave individual who is always in the back of her mind, always reminding her that she is complete as she is. “Not in relation to anyone or anything else, just wholly, fully me.” She encourages other women to embrace the brave versions of themselves as well.
“The Brave You gives you the courage to hold your own agency, your own choice, your own desire, your own longings, your own fear, your own grief, your own future. She’s just one aspect of your soul that helps you become your fully embodied and completely integrated real, true self. She’s in you right now, in your journal, in the back of your mind, in your Netflix queue, waiting for your invitation. So let her out, let her have her glory. This beautiful, powerful part of you is just waiting for your invitation.”