‘You’re on TV — You’re Representing Black People’: Tracee Ellis Ross Recalls an Instance of Backlash She Received for Wearing Her Natural Hair on ‘Girlfriends’

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross launched her hair care line Pattern in September 2019. The idea came about while she was working on the hit sitcom “Girlfriends” after the hairstylist on set struggled to style natural hair for a predominately Black cast. 

Ellis wanted to create a line for people with 3B to 4C hair that usually consists of well-defined spiral curls that may be bouncy ringlets or tight corkscrews. At one point in the hair care market, it was difficult for people with this pattern range to find products that worked for their hair, but now there’s a variety of choices to choose from, including Pattern, Shea Moisture, and more. Since then, she’s seen much success with the company and has even entered into phase two of her brand, releasing more products outside her initial shampoo and conditioner.

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross speaks on stage during Texas Conference For Women 2019 at Austin Convention Center on October 24, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Texas Conference for Women 2019)

In a recent interview with AD WEEK, the “Black-ish” star spoke about a time in her career where she received backlash for flaunting her natural hair on television. During her days filming for “Girlfriends,” the now 48-year-old said she recalled buying tons of hair products and was told by the store clerk, “you have no idea the amount of people that come in here and say ‘I want my hair like that girl on Girlfriends.’” Though the comment sparked what would later be her haircare brand, the actress said in contrast, she was shamed for confidently wearing her hair.

“I had another experience during ‘Girlfriends’ where I was at the Essence Music Festival and someone came up to me and said, ‘You’re on TV — you’re representing Black people. Why don’t you get your hair done?’” she explained.

At that moment, Ross realized that Black women wearing their natural tresses on media was rare; further fueling the idea to get into the business. “And it was one of the other moments where I realized there weren’t many Black women wearing their hair in its natural form. Yes, that was happening across the globe and through time, but it wasn’t reflected in media,” she added. “And so I started to realize I was doing something that in the public eye wasn’t happening on a regular basis. And because of my job and the life I had, I had access to all of these products. And still, I was hunting for products.” 

Nearly two years since its launch, Pattern Beauty now offers everything from hair serums, creams, oils, and even accessories 

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