Whether she’s appearing in the hit sitcom Black-ish or walking the red carpet, actress Tracee Ellis Ross is known for embracing her epic curls.
But the daughter of Diana Ross has spoken out about the effect the underrepresentation of black women in the beauty industry has had on her confidence, revealing how a lack of products and relatable imagery made her feel as though her hair type was undesirable.
Speaking in Glamour UK’s latest digital issue about her relationship with her hair, Ellis Ross said: "I went through those teenage years when everybody is searching to figure out who they are and all of a sudden become so aware of how they look, how they are seen, what’s cool, what’s in."
While she found inspiration in the women around her, like her mother, she admits: "Sadly, there were not a tonne of images, outside of my family, of people who looked like me."
Ellis Ross said it took her a while to figure out that her beauty type was being ignored by the mainstream media.
"There was no ‘eureka’ moment. When I was going through all of that I didn’t have an understanding of the larger cultural context; I didn’t understand that the culture of beauty and the industry of beauty was actually specifically leaving me out and not celebrating me."
Ross, who has learned to love her curls, has just launched hair care range Pattern Beauty for other women with natural, textured locks.
She says that the brand has taken 10 years to develop – a period that has "been fraught with many disappointments" and her "running up against many of the things that were exactly what made me feel bad about myself," for instance: "People saying to me: ‘You don’t have the credibility to do this, you need to partner with a professional,’ and me attempting to explain that I, like many women of colour and people with curly hair, have become our best experts because the industry has not supported us."
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The products caused a major buzz when they launched online, and many items in the range have already sold out.
"Make-up, skincare, I see them as part of the [Pattern] journey," says Ellis Ross. "The gatekeepers of the industry have not had an understanding of the power and the beauty of this community of people.
"I still am playing within a system that forecasts beneath our worth. But I’m playing the long game."
See the full feature in the October digital issue of GLAMOUR UK.