Tracee Ellis Ross: We’re told our job as women ‘is to learn to be choosable’


Tracee Ellis Ross has an interview that came out a couple of weeks ago on Glennon Doyle’s We can Do Hard Things podcast. I’m reporting on it now as I saw some excerpts on Yahoo! and wanted to wait until I could listen to the whole thing. It’s an hour long and is well worth it. Glennon runs the podcast with her sister, Amanda Doyle, and her wife, Abby Wombach. It was my first time listening and honestly it wasn’t clear to me who was speaking other than Tracee and Glennon. The episode was so crazy deep and interesting that I found myself both fascinated by the work Tracee has done and annoyed by having to face hard truths about myself. I’m about the same age as Tracee and have been able to relate to her interviews for years. She said so many interesting things that it’s hard to know what to excerpt. I wanted to talk about how she’s come to love and appreciate herself after realizing who she is and what she wants out of life.

She’s grateful people came out for her 50th birthday party
I am one of those people that am like ‘yeah I would love to go, but do I really want to leave the house?’

On intentionally creating your life
We go back to this model that we’re sold. It’s everywhere and if you’re not careful you actually think it’s true, which is that ‘my job as a woman is to learn to be choosable,’ having nothing to do with who I am, what makes my heart sing, floats my boat, makes me feel safe, makes me feel comfortable, powerful, smart… but really is more about how I might be seen so that I might be chosen so that my life could mean something as a chosen woman who then gets to have a child and then be a mother and then do that for a child. Our culture sells us this … there’s nothing wrong with that journey, but it’s a chosen journey as opposed to one that you think is going to make you worth anything. There’s so many different versions of that.

On how she’s learned who she is and what she wants
I’ve been grateful enough to have found places where there are eons of tools in different ways to unpack that crazy messaging, make sense of it in a way that actually gives me a shot at genuine happiness and a robust life that’s actually mine. It’s like a daily reprieve, some days are better than others, some days the old messaging comes in and I’ve got a really nice matching story that goes with it of my unlovability. If I’m not careful and go into that thinking alone, I get stuck there.

I’m one of these people that I don’t get scared of stuff until after. I’m a girl that jumps off a cliff. Then I land and I’m like ‘what the f’ck did I just do?’ ‘Who would do that?’ ‘Why would you do that?’ ‘Oh my God you’re so dumb, this is actually evidence.’ ‘Put that in the fire of unlovability, that shit is going to roar.’ The next day, it’s out of control. It’s a risk hangover.

On being herself
So many of the things that I like about myself are the things that are difficult for people. I’m not afraid to say when I dont think something feels right. I’m not afraid to say when something doesn’t feel right for me no matter how far and deeply into that thing I am. That I have a really loud laugh. All these different things that make me maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. That really changed my relationship to those aspects of me that I think I was trying to hide in order to be chosen, to be lovable. I don’t know if my discomfort with not being everyone’s cup of tea, the unlovability and self loathing that comes up, I don’t know if those are ever going to go away. I think I have a different relationship to them. I can do hard things, I can also be comfortable when I’m uncomfortable, I can also be happy when I don’t like how everything is going. I have a larger container to hold myself and I know myself really well. It’s taken a lot of time to have the courage to actually live my life as that person.

My big fear was ‘am I going to ruin the course of my destiny if I make the wrong choice?’ My spiritual awakening has been ‘I’m OK, you can’t ruin it babe.’

[From We Can Do Hard Things]

There’s also section where Tracee talks about realizing her fertility is waning and that she owes a debt to the transgender community for helping expand the concept of gender. Yahoo! covered that part, it was deep and I’ve never thought about it like that, and you can read about it there.

A lot of what she said comes with age, like realizing you’re not everyone’s cup of tea and that you shouldn’t change or dim your light for a relationship. After that I think it was Glennon who said “Think of how weak you’d have to be, to be everyone’s cup of tea. You’d have to be water.” That’s so true! Overall I came away from this thinking that I’m fine, that I’m right where I should be, that I can’t ruin anything, and that I should lean more into the things I love and value about myself. I appreciate Tracee for being unapologetically herself and for talking so openly about it.

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16 Responses to “Tracee Ellis Ross: We’re told our job as women ‘is to learn to be choosable’”

  1. Jeannine Pope says:

    Tracee Ellis Ross is ALWAYS my cup of tea! Especially when she is being unapologetically herself and claiming her right to be a woman with out any attachments to a man or children. I love her for that. Plus, I love her in that grey suit!

  2. JoanCallamezzo says:

    Yes Tracee. These are the kind of insights I could read all day.

  3. Lady Esther says:

    I love her to pieces for unapologetically taking up space and using her voice, and for bringing the GORGEOUSNESS in her fashion…not to mention that FACE! She is truly stunning!

  4. WiththeAmericann says:

    Love her and her turquoise!

  5. Margot says:

    Highly recommend this podcast. The one where Amanda talks about “the ticker” (the running list of all the things we need to do each day/week/month/year as women) is a good one.

  6. Jazz Hands says:

    Love her! She would have been a great guest on Meghan’s podcast.

  7. candy says:

    Wow, I am going to have to let this sink in for a while. It’s hard to be a woman in our society, for the many subtle reasons she captured so well.

    • bananapanda says:

      One of the best things I’ve read lately –

      Q: “What would you tell young girls and/or your younger self?”
      A: “Stop wasting energy trying to get boys to like you. Develop your own interests, hobbies, schoolwork, sports, etc. Boys will always be there (if you want them) but don’t bend/mold your self to match their expectations bc it’s a colossal waste of time, energy and potential.”

  8. Case says:

    I always love her insights — she’s an awesome role model. I’m particularly touched by, “I’m not afraid to say when something doesn’t feel right for me no matter how far and deeply into that thing I am.” As a high-risk person I’m still very much living cautiously with the pandemic, and I’ve had to get really, really comfortable telling people I love that I can’t go to their birthday party or attend that concert they’re excited about or go on that trip with them. It’s anxiety-inducing as someone who isn’t necessarily a people pleaser, but pre-pandemic, always wanted to go with friends to things that mattered to them. It’s upsetting to tell people no even when you know it’s the only answer you can give. The inclination is always to be agreeable.

    • Carrot says:

      @Case, you do you and keep yourself healthy. No apologies. Only a couple weeks back a close friend dumped my arse because I wouldn’t go to Ibiza with her. Even typing that sentence is ridiculous to me!

  9. Latte says:

    I am a fan of WCDHT podcast, and ESPECIALLY this episode!

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    OMG, I resonated with that last paragraph of hers so much. Maturing to a point where you accept your self-imposed flaws into characteristics which deserve respect is nothing but peace and freedom.

  11. Otaku fairy says:

    “Think of how weak you’d have to be, to be everyone’s cup of tea. You’d have to be water.” So true. What Tracee says about being chosen is true. Sometimes it’s within romantic relationships, sometimes it’s in your career, and sometimes it’s in the pressure to support one cause by throwing another under the bus.

  12. Mick says:

    Even then, some people don’t even like water or need some zhush with it.

    Can’t please everyone, so might as well be yourself.

  13. AMA1977 says:

    I think I’ve said this before, but I have a 10 year-old daughter and I’m actively trying to “counter-program” the messages she gets from society at large just because she’s female (about making herself smaller, and managing the emotions of others, and caretaking…etc.) with the wisdom I’ve gained in my DGAF 40’s. My hope is to cut the lag time in realizing you’re enough as you are and it’s okay if everyone doesn’t like you (sometimes that’s a compliment in itself!) from the 25+ years it took me to a much, much shorter duration.

    I’m not a Glennon Doyle fan, but I’ll give this a listen. Thanks for the heads up, CB!

  14. Anonymous says:

    TER is so cool. I didn’t go to Brown undergrad, but a lot of my friends did and I was at enough parties in the same room with her and just around town to be able to tell you that she was nice and cool even in college-LOL maybe she felt like she had that phase more figured out-or at least she seemed like she did!

    A lot of what she says resonates with me, thanks for posting this, I will go listen to this now, I may have missed this otherwise!

    If you’ve never seen her videos of trying on the fashionable paper shorts while she’s waiting in the orthopedic’s office on Instagram, OMG go down that rabbit hole and find them and watch, you will NOT regret it! (Circa 2021) LOL

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