Exploring Beauty with Tracy Freeman
September 30, 2020
Tracy Freeman Aveda Educator, Hair Color Professional, and Texture Artist at Square One Salon and Spa, Ohio.
I hope one day I can meet Tracy in person and give her a hug of gratitude for being a woman that I admire. Though I had only spent one hour of time with her over Zoom, there was a strength and wisdom that came through very strongly when I talked with her.
Allison Stock (previous interview) was the person that introduced me to Tracy.
Tracy is a hairstylist and an educator that gives me hope and inspiration for myself and my career, especially when I wonder if I’m going in the right direction for myself.
Tracy has been in the industry for twenty five years! Previously she was a model and when she would come in to get her hair done, her hairstylist would ask her if she was the one doing her hair and asked if she ever thought about becoming a hairstylist. Tracy's love for hair has evolved and grown over the years and she found a complementary passion with teaching and educating. She loves teaching what she learns and believes that learning never ends. I loved hearing about Tracy's variety of skills and talents from all that she has learned over the years.
Beauty to Tracy is Power. You have the power to change people’s lives through their look because it goes deeper than just the surface of their skin. It's an experience because you become a day maker! Like many of my interviews, Tracy talked about being many different things to her clients: therapist, doctor, and priest. This, I believe, is something that shows up for many people in the beauty industry in particular hairstyling. It definitely showed up for me in ways of simple conversation, trust, and the evolution of building relationships. For me, I noticed it began once my clientele really started to stick. It was pretty mind blowing what people would share with me. I felt as if I was holding a precious crystal ball with a view into their worlds. I treasured this and this is what made leaving to travel with no return so hard.
I asked Tracy what it is like being in the beauty industry while being a mother. She said that she is a role model for her daughter and granddaughter. Everything Tracy does she knows that they are watching. I could relate and I feel this so deeply. Everything that my mom, my aunts, my teachers, and mentors did when I was younger, I was watching and I was listening. I am an observer.
I saw how they worked, ran their businesses, and ran their homes. I saw how they looked at themselves. I listened to how they talked about themselves to others and to themselves. And now, I think this is the thing that I struggle with the most. I sometimes get “not so great” feelings about my body and I am often looking at where this comes from. A lot of me wants to blame it on the media and photoshop and marketing, and maybe that's where some of it comes from. But watching and listening to these people in my life, both men and women, talk poorly about their bodies, having shame about their bellies, talking about the latest diets, how their pants don't fit, or how they have flabby arms probably account for the rest of what I was absorbing. It was an example for me of how to look at myself, even if they were telling me how perfect I was and how I didn't need to be worried about any of it. It was something that I internalized and unfortunately live with now. It makes me think of a scene in “Mean Girls” where Cady is with “The Plastics” at Regina George's house and they are looking in the mirror picking themselves apart...
Karen says: "God my hips are huge."
Gretchen: "Oh please, I hate my calves."
Regina: "At least you guys can wear halters. I've got man shoulders."
Cady thinks: "I used to think there was just fat and skinny. Apparently, there's a lot of things that can be wrong with your body.”
The destructive body talk continues and when it comes to Cady's "turn" to say something negative about her body she says, "I have really bad breath in the morning."
My hope is that I can step away from the self-deprecating body shaming fully and completely because when I look at other people I don't see what they see; I just see them as a human being. And I know that when people look at me, they don't see my personal struggle; they just see me as a human too.
Talking to Tracy reminded me of the importance of this. It's not just how you talk about other people or about your daughter's body/beauty to them. It's also about how you talk about yourself to her and around her. I wonder what it would take to shamelessly talk about how amazing our bodies are without seeming conceited and self-absorbed?
I asked Tracy what it is like being a Black woman in the beauty industry. Tracy talked about how being one of the two Black stylists in her salon out of all the stylists doesn't bother her. She has taken it seriously to be able to do all types of hair as well as all services. Though she has dealt with racism and sometimes it may bring her down, she says, “what doesn't kill her makes her stronger.”
I really appreciated hearing Tracy's vulnerability, confidence, and stance that prejudging someone isn’t right -- she knows she is a fantastic person. Tracy also talked about how hate is a taught action. Similar to what I mentioned before regarding my teachers talking poorly about their own bodies and that example trickling down, you could say the same thing is happening about hate and racism. It is also directly and indirectly being taught and perpetuated in this way.
I told Tracy that my education in styling textured hair in my days in school was next to none and I asked her what she thought could be done about it!
Turns out she is a part of that change! Aveda has a new texture curriculum and she is on their Texture Team! Tracy's passion for being an educator comes from so many students not having education on textured hair. She asked herself, "Why is that?" … And then went into the school and taught them.
Tracy, thank you for being a leader and taking it upon yourself to make change, big change. You inspire me!
There is so much more to this interview and my heart is full... I think I could talk about this all day!
Enjoy the beautiful Tracy Freeman!
Love and gratitude,
Creator/ Founder of The Beauty Project
Tracy's Beauty Statement: "Beauty to me is powerful. To have the power to change someone’s life is amazing.
The beauty industry means to me change and growth. It’s everchanging. Everytime it changes you grow and change into something else.
What I would like people to know about the beauty industry is it’s fun and exciting. We are intelligent, smart, people. We love what we do. We are day makers. It’s impactful to everyone.
I am beautiful because I am a strong, black, resilient, caring and impactful woman!"
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