By Abigail Freeman
Trend-setting actress Tracee Ellis Ross and best-selling author Glennon Doyle are cut from the same cloth—or, were made in the same cauldron soup, as Ross would put it. Both women are founders—Ross of haircare brand Pattern Beauty and Doyle of non-profit Together Rising—known for using their platforms to spark conversation and make a difference in the spaces they occupy. And both are extremely honest.
In an virtual conversation for the Forbes 2020 Power Women’s Summit—that felt more like an intimate FaceTime heart-to-heart between two old friends—Doyle’s first question for Ross was straight to the point: “We have to do these things, we have to show up still, but how are you doing withthis ‘Covid world’?”
“You know, even as we were setting up our tech for this, [I thought], good enough can be good enough,” Ross told her. “I’m not always my favorite version of myself in this and I don’t seem to have access to some of my favorite things in life. It’s a conscious effort to really cultivate things that anchor me to myself, to joy, and to connection and collective energy, because I like that energy a lot.”
Doyle and Ross speak a similar language, filled with a keen sense of self, which can only be found with a lot of trial and error—and “living out loud.” Both discussed their admiration for each other’s work, the importance of detaching self-worth from others’ opinions, and how they lead their professional and personal lives with integrity.
Self-Image In A Male-Dominated Society
Doyle’s latest memoir, entitled Untamed and released in March, unpacks the conditioning that is forced upon women from a young age, and often, later carried into their careers. Doyle said today that women must liberate themselves from others’ expectations to truly discover their own intentions and abilities.
“As a deep thinker and a critic of culture, I know that this,” she said, gesturing to her head, “is where all my indoctrination lives, right? This is where every bias that I’ve ever been conditioned to have—this is wherever everything that people have told me what I can and can’t do—lives. It’s all culturally constructed.”
Ross agreed, saying that her view of herself was determined by others for so long.
“Particularly for women, we have been raised in a patriarchal structure in which we are so busy seeing ourselves from the outside, not even through a loving friend’s gaze, but through a judgmental man’s gaze,” Ross said. “That is so confusing.”
I’ve tried to be all of the different things and the truth is, I’m best at being me.Tracee Ellis Ross
Beyond the need for women to rethink their roles to realize the power they hold, Ross said reimagination will be crucial to bringing impactful change during the pandemic and a national reckoning of social injustice.
“We’re in a space right now—as a culture, as a society, as a country—where we have to reimagine, because [the solution] doesn’t exist,” she said. “I keep thinking, if we’re dismantling all these things, you can’t use the same mind. You can’t use the messed up mind to fix ‘the thing.’”
Own Your Voice
Doyle and Ross have endured long journeys to develop their professional voices. Ross said the outside work to cater to her inner self is a daily reprieve.
“Looking at the things that actually match my insides, it takes a lot of courage and a lot of tears,” Ross said.
The even more difficult work is growing self-acceptance into self-love, she said.
“Finally, then came the journey of: how do I find the courage to actually be the person that I know I am, and then even maybe on some days like her? And even if I don’t like her—and even if there’s a favorite version of me and my not-favorite version of me and all these different kinds—how do I be kind to her, no matter what?”
Ross and Doyle “showed up” for the for the Power Women’s Summit, virtually, in an intimate way that they would have been hard-pressed to recreate on a stage in front of thousands of people. And while doing so, both argued that women’s ability to lead with heart and logic is invaluable.
“I feel like the truth of who I am, personally, is the truth of who I am professionally,” Ross said. “I bring that same person, my same intentions, the same whole self goes into all of these aspects.”
Doyle said the ultimate driving force of impactful work is passion.
“One of the things we have in common is that we live and lead and love like women, so we do bring our intuition everywhere we go. For me, the other part of that self that I bring is emotion,” Doyle said. “And I think that we have been, as women, shamed out of any sort of passionate feeling, any sort of anger or heartbreak. Or, any of it makes us somehow less leader-like than men. So I think we can reject that going into the after. I just think about things that make me angry or break my heart, and those are the things I show up for.”