She’s interviewed by friend and fellow actress Kerry Washington about her beauty brand Pattern, not being afraid to be vocal about what she wants and needs as a Black woman, and Black girl magic, of course. It’s a really insightful read, and it makes sense that she would be the focus for a feature like this. She has been open about learning to embrace her curls, people stan her mane, and she is the mastermind behind her own hair care line in Pattern. But there are some people who have said that for an inaugural issue on Black beauty, she doesn’t necessarily represent the struggles and hair of the average Black woman. Some have brought up the fact that she is biracial. Others have said that having multiple Black women of different looks and backgrounds could have been the better place to start.
She certainly has a softer hair texture, a type that has gained a great deal of visibility and acceptance over the last few years; nevertheless, that doesn’t mean her journey with her hair or her contributions to Black hair care as a prominent face in Hollywood is one that can’t be understood or appreciated. She certainly sends the message that Black women as a whole have been revolutionizing natural hair for much longer than when the mainstream started to show it love, and that she’s been inspired by so many. She doesn’t try to hog up the conversation by centering herself.
“I have a real love of texture. Those with tighter textures have given me the courage to embrace and love what grows out of my head. I always remind people, we’ve been here doing this forever. This is not some new phenomenon,” she said. “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. Our beauty is filled with love and joy and an emotional intelligence that reaches into spaces that allow us to connect with each other in such sacred ways.”
Still, per the usual, people had varying thoughts about Ellis-Ross being the point person for Black beauty. Check out what some had to say by hitting the flip.
Digital strategist Leslie Mac says there is nothing innovative about having someone who looks like Tracee Ellis Ross speak on Black beauty. In fact, she says she’s tired of it.
This Twitter user said that Ross is better off passing the baton to speak on Black hair and beauty to someone with a kinkier hair type.
“@TraceeEllisRoss Next time a publication comes to you to be the representative of natural Black hair kindly refer them to @violadavis or any other prominent Black female figure who has the hair type that is discriminated against in society. Thanks #ELLE”
This Twitter user shared both a light criticism with a sprinkle of positive praise for Ellis-Ross being on the cover, saying that while the comedic actress wouldn’t have been her pick, she still slayed. No lies told on the latter part.
“Kinds [sic] wish someone else was on the cover. She looks beautiful as ever, tho.”
This Twitter user called out those who feel Ross doesn’t need to have a natural hair care line because she’s biracial.
“So there are people that don’t think Tracee Ellis Ross should have a natural hair care line because she’s mixed…people exhaust me. Y’all do know mixed or not we don’t all have 4C hair right.”
This Twitter user said as a Biracial woman, Ross was wrong for agreeing to be on the cover of a magazine talking about the state of Black beauty.
“Biracial women like @TraceeEllisRoss are complicit in colorism and featurism. You stole your Elle cover, which is about ‘The State of Black Beauty’ from an actual Black woman who actually gets overlooked for being undeniably, unambigously, type 4 hair, round nose BLACK.”
This Twitter user said that Ross is someone with the type of hair texture that has always been desirable, and because of that, the cover should have featured someone else.
“Ok I like Tracee Ellis Ross but no one’s ever had a problem praising light skin or mixed black women with her hair type. This cover should’ve went to someone else.”
Someone pointed out that Ross might talk about the people who have wanted a man like hers in interviews centered around her hair, but they said she never delves deeper to talk about why that is.
“I find it a bit weird that Tracee Ellis Ross keeps doing these interviews about natural hair and yet never fully addresses the reasons WHY so many black women wanted hair like her.”
This Twitter commenter said Ross’s elder sister, Rhonda, who is of a darker complexion and kinkier hair type, would have been great for the inaugural State of Black Beauty issue.
“They should have put Rhonda Ross on the cover. Tracee Ellis Ross is bi racial and therefore does not have your typical hair texture that represents most black women.”
This commenter said there should have been more than one Black woman on the cover.
“So Ellis-Ross on the cover ‘reps’ the state of Black beauty’. Ever think of having various Black women on cover representing the varied hues we embody? Or does that only apply to lighter skinned ones? I say this as a light skinned Black woman who tires of seeing same old game.”
This Twitter user said Ross being on the cover proves that mainstream platforms look at “mixed race women as the epitome of Black beauty.”
“‘The State of Black Beauty’ issue has half white @TraceeEllisRoss on the cover! At least y’all aren’t pretending like you don’t view mixed raced women as the epitome of Black beauty. Tracee is ridiculous for accepting the cover too. The colorism & erasure of it all.”