Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘Your clothing can change your narrative & reframe circumstances’

I love Tracee Ellis Ross and am taking this opportunity to talk about her glorious outlook. Tracee is covering Elle Canada’s September issue, with a photo that’s just a close up of her face trying to look off the cuff elated as she’s showing off her manicure. While I get what they were going for she looks like she just woke up with a bad hangover and is shielding herself from the light coming in through the window. You can see the editorial in the Instagram slideshow below. It looks like they were going for eccentric looks that help showcase Tracee’s adventurous style. Inside, Tracee talks about one of her favorite subjects, fashion, and how it can be a topic of conversation and a game changer. I really like how she framed this as she just goes with how her clothing makes her feel.

How would you describe your style?
“I genuinely lean toward what makes my heart sing. It changes every day. Sometimes I’m one person; sometimes I’m another. But I know—I know when a script is for me, when an outfit is for me. When I get dressed, sometimes I say ‘That’s it! Okay, that’s right!’ out loud.”

Is your love of fashion innate? I assume you were mining your mother’s closet from day one?
“Obviously! But, yes, I came out like that. There are pictures of me from before I could talk, naked, wearing Mom’s high heels. When my mother was onstage, I used to hide in the quick-change booth, and after the curtains went down, I would collect the beads that had fallen off the gowns, separate them by colour and put them inside those little cases that film used to come in. I loved it all. In hindsight, I now know that I [grew up watching] a woman in her full power and glory, who utilized her agency. And that’s what clothing, style and fashion represented to me—a uniform for greatness. Your clothing can change your narrative and reframe circumstances, and it can be a visual marker for a larger conversation. That is why it has that meaning in my life.”

Your personal life has been a hot topic lately. “In an interview the other day, someone said, ‘I love how outspoken you are about deciding not to have children and choosing your career instead.’ I said: ‘Hold on. One: Yes, I am outspoken. Two: I have not “chosen” whether I am having kids or not, because it’s none of your business. Three: If I do choose whether or not to have a child or whether or not to have a husband, it has nothing to do with my career. And four: The reason that I’m outspoken is because….’”

Of questions like this! “Yes! I want to shift the language. It drives me nuts. It contributes to this idea that young girls dream of a † wedding and not the lives that they want or how they want to use their talents and what they want from their world. Marriage might be a part of that. But it might not. If I had one life mission—which this isn’t because I have so many others!—it would be to dismantle that myth, that false belief.”

[From Elle Canada]

Tracee has consistently spoken out about the narrative around women, that marriage and children are the only path to happiness and fulfillment. Last month she told Vanity Fair that she’s responded to invasive questions by asking “Why don’t you just get out of my womb? What are you doing in there?” Respect.

In terms of fashion, my mom was always big on costumes and Halloween and she also taught me that clothing was transformative. That could have been partially genetic as Tracee mentioned too, given that I insisted on wearing dresses every day for a year in kindergarten. So Tracee and I have that and fabulous moms in common. I’m really into theme dressing, retro fashion and secondhand clothes. I try not to look ridiculous but I’ve worn leg warmers with pom poms out to dinner. That was my uniform for greatness that cold winter night.

Look at her one giant earring!

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photos credit: Getty and Elle Canada

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27 Responses to “Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘Your clothing can change your narrative & reframe circumstances’”

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  1. tracking says:

    I follow her on Insta. Her love of fashion is so much fun. She’s just delightful in every way.

  2. Lala11_7 says:

    Oh yea…My Mama SO REMINDS me of her Mama…in EVERY WAY…and my Mama was a model back in the 70s and 80s…so yup…I TOTALLY relate to being enthralled by fashion…as I watched my Mama do her thang on the catwalk…and to this day…I work my outfits as if I’m about to step on screen! (much to the detriment of my wallet…AND my living space)…and I remember doing the one big earring thing back in the 80s…I LOVE IT!!!!

  3. Jenns says:

    I love what she said about marriage and children.

    I’m 39, single and without children. And it’s no one damn business why. I hate that women feel the need to justify their marital/motherhood status.

    • Esmom says:

      Yeah, I feel like it needs to be said more often. My mom honestly felt like this was the holy grail for my sister and I and the pressure was awful. I get that parents want their kids to be happy and it’s not like she didn’t have other hopes for us but the fact that marriage and kids was so much more important than anything else felt/feels sad to me.

    • Anners says:

      @Jenns – I’m 41, same deal. And I never mind until I’m thrust into social situations where it matters to others. I was at a baby shower once when one of the guests literally turned around and walked away from me after asking about my husband and children (none). It took me a while to understand it had more to do with her than with me, but in the moment I was crushed that she felt I wasn’t worth speaking with as a single person.

      • Suzanne says:

        I can relate to your experience. I’ve been frozen out of conversations because I don’t have children. I wouldn’t freeze someone out because they did have children! I’m single too so Im really on the fringes lol!

      • Anners says:

        @Suzanne – other people are the worst! LOL we can unite in single solidarity where we recognize people have value even if they haven’t decided to pair up and procreate :)

      • Suzanne says:

        @Anners yes lets unite – I’m tired of feeling less than and as if I have less feelings because I don’t have children. Erm I can feel horrified and upset at the treatment of children throughout the world even if I haven’t got one of my own.

  4. Mellie says:

    I love her too…so bright and bubbly and fierce at the same time!

  5. My3cents says:

    She is so refreshing. We need more outspoken women like her!

  6. minime says:

    I love Tracee Ellis Ross!! Thanks for covering her. I love her as an actress and I always enjoy what she has to say. She is indeed a very good model for young women and a great voice for any women in my opinion.

  7. Betsy says:

    She and Celine should form an awesome celebrity club.

  8. K.Tate says:

    Collected the beads from the floor… so sweet and relatable! Didn’t all little girls do this? (I did:)

    • Biting Panda says:

      It made me think of Pink’s daughter, Willow, growing up being a part of the backstage magic, and watching her mother be this incredible performer, and strong woman.

  9. Tiffany says:

    I can listen to Tracee talk about the alphabet and be fascinated by it. I love her so much. Here is hoping we are calling her a Emmy winner Tracee Ellis Ross come September.

  10. savu says:

    I think this point isn’t pushed enough – it’s not about how clothes make you look, it’s about how they make you feel. When I first got with my s.o. he couldn’t wrap his mind around why I wear matching bra and thong every day, whether anyone would see it or not. It’s bc I know it’s there, and it gives me confidence. It’s that simple!

  11. Enough Already says:

    Thank you for covering this goddess!! She is all the things.

  12. Mo' Comments Mo' Problems says:

    Love that she has a cover coming out. :) I love how that several of the prominent magazines are featuring African American women on their September covers!

  13. harla says:

    And I bet you rocked those leg warmers with pom-poms Celebitchy!!!

  14. j says:

    Not a criticism of her specifically, but i cringe when smart, intellectual people people drop words like “narrative” and “agency”. They’re so overused. It’s becoming it’s own form of woke rhetoric/signalling. Don’t forget “everyone’s an expert of their own life” and that we have to “meet people where they’re at”. Such social service-y talk. I love the message, but it seems the language is taking on a life of it’s own? I don’t know. I feel the same way about “self care” being used to sell skincare and beauty products. Just a poorly formed half thought of mine lol.

  15. Scal says:

    I follow her on instagram and she regularly posts silly and loving pictures and videos with her siblings and her out with her nieces and nephews. She so clearly loves being a auntie and loves them dearly and spends alot of time with them.

    I always feel like those questions about not having kids makes it seem like you don’t like children. It’s so frustrating.

    • AMA1977 says:

      My sister is childfree by choice and she LOVES my kids and is an amazing auntie. She just doesn’t want any of her own, and I think it takes a thoughtful and self-aware person to state that you just aren’t parent material. It’s none of anybody else’s business who has kids and who doesn’t, and I agree that we are doing all women a disservice when we tacitly accept these topics of conversation as acceptable for mass consumption.

  16. Pandy says:

    Wow she has her mother’s smile in that cover shot.

  17. Vaya says:

    Thank you, Jesus!

  18. raincoaster says:

    I love that this full grown independent woman is absolutely THE Hollywood It Girl of the moment.