Beautycon 2017: Tracee Ellis Ross on Traditional Beauty Standards, Natural Hair Movement

“I’m inviting you to let your ‘you’’ flag fly,” the ‘Black-ish’ star said at Beautycon.

The fifth annual BeautyCon Festival kicked off at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday with a keynote by Golden Globe-winning Black-ish actress Tracee Ellis Ross focusing on her struggles with white standards of beauty and “the objectifying gaze,” which she defined as “seeing or treating a person as an object of desire or an instrument of sexual pleasure or a commodity, where the self, as in the personality, your dignity, your mind, your feelings and your choice are of no importance.”

“Growing up, I thought there was a right way to wear my hair, a right way to look, even a right person to become,” said the 44-year-old, who wore a cream Chanel jacket, cropped Vetements jeans, and bold fuchsia lipstick. “And my physical appearance, from my hair to my lips to my eyes to my ass to the color of my skin, is not the norm in terms of a standard of beauty in this country. But diversity was not on the cover of magazines then. Being black or ethnic was not mainstream. There was no Lupita Nyong’o or Zendaya or Patrick Starr or Ashley Graham. Teen Vogue didn’t have a black editor in chief and Moonlight would never have won best picture. So I tried to twist myself into the shape I thought I was supposed to be with rude self talk, the occasional bout of starvation, exercise or whatever. I have full-ish lips, so I taught myself to smile so my top lip would go away.”

The star noted that she was one of very few African American actresses to wear her hair naturally wavy when the television series Girlfriends premiered in 2000.

“The natural hair movement symbolizes a movement that is about unleashing our authentic beauty, which plays right into the message of this BeautyCon, about finding that wild beauty within,” she said.

“I believe a revolution is happening, as we all break though these limiting ideals that are keeping us small and in our place,” Ross continued. “It’s time we each discover and reveal what we love about ourselves and embrace the things we don’t love about ourselves, because we all have them… I’m inviting you to let your ‘you’ flag fly… Beauty is about owning your truth, expressing your joy, and claiming your future. And where does each of us find it? Within. Because I believe beauty is you.”

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