Tracee Ellis Ross: “I Don’t Want You to Want My Hair”


Tracee Ellis Ross is widely considered a natural hair idol, but she’s sending the message that she wants people to spend less time wanting her hair and more time loving their own hair. On Friday she launched the Hair Love! campaign, encouraging naturals to embrace whatever texture they have. The idea for the campaign was sparked by a photo circulating on Instagram that shows a black girl crying with the caption, “That moment you realize, you don’t have Tracee Ellis Ross’s Hair.”


In a YouTube video Miss Ross explained her reaction to the photo, and a bit of her hair history.

On her reaction to the Instagram photo
Hysterical. That made me laugh with tears…. But in my comments, my caption underneath, I started to express some stuff that I feel like I should take to a further level and bring to you. So, first thing I want to say is thank you. I genuinely am honored and tickled and excited by the fact that people like my hair. I mean I’m a human being and it’s really nice when people like something about you. Especially when they like something that you honestly have worked so hard on and that you used to hate. I used to hate my hair. My hair was so much work. It’s still a lot of work. But it’s a lot of work with a lot of payoff now. But it’s been a journey for me.

On people saying she has nice hair because she’s mixed
Someone mentioned I’m mixed. So my Dad is white and my Mom is black and maybe that’s why I have this very special hair. It’s not true people. We all have different textures, different ethnicities, different mixes, we’ve all got different curl patterns and, just speaking for myself I’ve had a journey of figuring this hair out. This hair is a lot of work. It’s confusing. And people don’t just tell you how to do it. This new natural hair wave that’s going on, thank God. I wish someone would have shared some of that stuff with me when I was younger. I had to figure it out for myself. I had a relaxer in my hair, I had to grow it out. That was hard. I didn’t grow it by cutting it. I cut bangs, that was dumb. I used to sit at the beauty shop all day on Saturdays all through high school. I used to wake my mom up early so she could press my hair out. I used to sleep in rollers and get a crook in my neck. My hair has been a journey.

On why she doesn’t want people to want her hair
What I want to say to you is I’m flattered and honored, it’s so exciting that you like something. It’s like being mirrored back that you like something that was really tough for me. That’s really fun for me. At the same time I don’t want you to want my hair… and the reason I don’t want you to want my hair is I’m of the school of love what you got.

On not liking her hair in the past
For me, the reason my hair was such a battle is because I was trying to make it something it wasn’t. I wanted the hair that somebody else had. And because of that I was damaging my hair, trying to beat it into submission, trying to make it something it wasn’t, trying to make it slip into my face unconsciously. I was trying to do all of those things to it and as a result I was ruining and damaging the hair that I was given.

On why she loves her hair
I love my hair because it’s big. I love my hair because it’s a reflection of my soul. It’s dense, it’s kinky, it’s soft, it’s textured, it’s difficult, it’s easy and it’s fun. That’s why I love my hair.

Love it! Love everything about it! To participate in the Hair Love! campaign, upload a video to YouTube describing your hair in 5 words or less, and explaining why you love it.

And check out Tracee’s full video below;

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast.

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