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WORK THAT BODY 2015 Posted on March 26th, 2017 in Tracee.

I decided to recreate my Mom’s Work That Body video from 1981 as a fun experiment and a surprise for my mama! And ODE to her! While she has so, so many incredible moments to choose from, this one had an impact on me. At first I wasn’t sure why, but in true “Tracee” fashion I became a little obsessed. I like to study these things until I am clear about what I’m seeing, what it’s making me feel, and why.

I am keenly aware of how we as women (and most specifically women of color) are presented and portrayed in media and how we present ourselves. And here was my mama from almost 30 years ago on the surface doing something that often snags me in videos today but why did I feel differently about it?

Of course it’s fun to watch because its my mom looking stupid gorgeous (she was 36 and already had 3 kids -Rhonda, Chudney and I- by the time she shot this!! I mean, WHAT?!??!?!) and it’s a celebration of music and style and the 80’s. But, there is something more.

I was watching and thinking: why does watching this woman dancing around in barely any clothes with her tush to the camera make me feel joyful and empowered when the same kind of image in most music videos today doesn’t give me that feeling? I know this is my mom… so obviously I’m projecting a connection and I know it was a different time, it was the 80’s. But still, it didn’t feel like she was dancing as a presentation of herself or like she was offering up her bits, which I feel like most videos are these days. Often in today’s images (moving and still), we are being objectified or we objectifying ourselves. I think it is meant to be an empowered act, a reclaiming of our bodies. But that is not always what it feels like to me. I am not intending to judge, just exploring with curiosity.

And then it hit me: My mom felt whole and connected …and in her body in this video. I have spoken before about encouraging women to shift our gaze from how we are seen to how we are seeing and, more important, feeling. And I saw a woman feeling joyful in herself as a whole being; she didn’t seem to be presenting her ass or saying look at all the ways I can make myself look appealing to YOU. She seems to be saying, “this is ME feeling good and I am strong and sexy and joyful in ME”!

So, I decided to recreate the video and try to feel the joy of being in my body while offering up tribute to my glorious mother. Hope you have as much fun watching it as I did recreating it, but most of all I hope it inspires you to find and be in the joy of your own body!


  • Nikki Bailey

    This made my day! I pushed myself too hard at gym and yoga this week (trying to make up for my years of sedentary binge watching and eating) and , as a result, I am sitting here with my back in spasm. This video was a nice reminder of what it’s like to exercise and move out of the sheer joy of living in my body. I am reminded to move myself and my body from a place of love instead of punishment. Thanks Tracee and Ms. Diana!

    • Sharlene

      Thank you so much Tracee for recreating this amazing video .lm in my early twenties and this videos just inspired me to learn to love my body .

  • Chi

    Love this video… Thank you so much for sharing…

  • Kimberly Wyche-Blaire

    This video made me feel joyful and I wanted to get up and join in!!…however, I suffer from osteo arthritis in my knees and feet and I can’t get uo and move like I did when I was in my 30’s!…Buy I applaud you Tracee for your glorious interpretation of your Mom’s video amd your wonderful tribute to your Mom…The Boss–Ms Ross! It was fun…and I loved how you sneaked those cupcakes in there! LOL!..

  • Vanessa

    Love!!! You’ll have to share your moms reaction!

  • Nikeya Thomas

    I loved every second of it. Thanks for sharing a special part of your world with us! :-)

  • Erica

    I liked the video except the end when you say your Mom is hotter than you. Not! Your Mom is the Boss but you’re equally as beautiful if not more. You got a killer body girl and it takes a confident woman to eat a cupcake while wearing leotards in a video lol!

  • Andrew

    Diana Ross has that effect on people. She is a consummate entertainer and her heart has always been in it and will always be in in. She is joyful and her the messages she shared all these years through her music are ones that inspire, empower and spread love. She is a very special lady and it is amazing how she balanced her career and her other passion of raising children. She has worked very hard and each of her children are young and gifted. She chose men that have character, brains and respect for women and children and who treated her like a lady. Do you all agree??

  • This video completely just made my night. As I get older, I find myself becoming a lot like my mom–gaining her mannerisms, cleaning style, interests, and even pet peeves–and it makes me want to study her from when she was my age. I think your video is a fabulous way to do such, and I love it all the more because of its higher dive into the politics of how we celebrate our bodies as women. I’m going to share this with my mom (she was quite a Diana Ross and Supremes fan in her youth).

  • Bill

    I’ve loved your mom for 51 years although I’ve never met her. Glorious is such a good adjective to describe her. The best I could ever come up with was ‘electrifying’.

  • cujokay

    What an AMAZING tribute! I grew up listening to your mom and she was the schit! I love her with and without The Supremes. She is truly a great talent. I love you both! Can hardly wait for Black-ish season 2. My family will be counting the days.

  • Ebony Laprocina

    Most awesome! Your mom is a true queen & you did an exceptional tribute to her. Made my night!

  • Louis Barnett

    This was so much fun!! Loved it!! Your mother has given joy to so many of us…it is gratifying to know that she passed on this love and joy to her children. Unfortunately, far too many celebrities are wounded and pass on their issues to their children. Your mom once said while accepting a lifetime achievement award that she viewed herself as an ambassador. Thanks for carrying on the legacy & making us proud!! I mourned when “Reed Between the Lines” went off the air, but you are continuing to show your versatility on “Blackish”. Wishing you & your entire family the best….will be seeing your mom next month in Baltimore. Although I have seen her many times, I am blown away by her talent & how she holds her audience in the palms of her hands & spreads love. Wishing you even more opportunities to share your gifts!! Louis Barnett

  • Amina W.

    Yes there is a huge difference with a woman “offering up her bits” versus one who is comfortable in her skin. I think this is an amazing homage to your mom. Thank you for sharing a visual representation of self-confidence and self acceptance.

  • Alexandra Piacenza

    I loved the video but the narrative even more . . .

  • Frizz Freeman

    Yoooo I knw I’m late with this, but I never peeped that Diana Ross was ya mom…

  • Malone Barrow

    I absolutely LOVE this!!

  • John

    OMG- I love you in Blackish ( though sometimes it’s over the top, it is always hilarious ) best sitcom on TV for sure. I think you are so beautiful and so funny. I never knew Diana was your mom. So cool. I worked at a florist shop in Greenwich and waited on Diana- it was more than 20 yrs ago. She looked so beautiful, I was floored being that i grew up with the Supremes and lots of other R&B music. I love the video- very joyful feeling indeed !

  • kpom

    Dear Tracee Ellis Ross, you are supremely magnificent. I actually saw you standing right next to me years ago at the handbag counter in Bergdorf Goodman and it was a gift, a highlight of my life. I’m 42 now and a mother to a sparkly 10-year old girl child; as such, your video had me smiling and shedding tears. A million thanks for blessing us with your energy.

  • Lorraine Stanton

    That was fabulous and so much fun. You really do look like your mom, and you are gorgeous too in completely different ways. This video seems to be a celebration of the similarities and differences between mother and daughter, and of embracing who you are. I find it has a very positive message for young girls.

  • Teia Williams

    Looooved it!

  • Devin H Clark

    Hair ~ Herritage ~ inheritance / Islanders have beautiful hair culture & nice weather & fun times & eat healthy & exercise their hair represents that /Blacks wearing Afros & Hippies & the 70s showed longer hair more times of people being outdoors/ Football Players wear helmets tough hair or heir or herritage/ Kings & Queens wear crowns their hair shows royalty/ Ronald McDonald wears red Hair red means to read or have read in my opinion / important things are red fire hydrants stop signs brake lights ect/ McDonald’s isn’t healthy so Ronald McDonalds hair should be read/ Jay Z has short hair like most rappers tougher speeches reflect lifestyle & therefore his hair Mirrors his impoverished lyrics / however Jay Z is also a reflection of his Mate whom has Hair in different styles depending on the song or movie / like the 50s & 60s ~ it used to be where Elvis might get on TV & be shunned for swinging hips & now violence & gayness is everywhere / ( We are Lucky to Look in my opinion) – & even in the Bible Samson’s hair was his strength – they say the meek shall “inherit” the earth – it’s important for everyone to live nice in my opinion – Tangled the Repunzel cartoon long hair lived in the forest – Jesus perfect until the crown of thorns – The office business style is usually a short boxed in cubicle hair or I wear braids I work in a factory – or hats – I think girls are more softer caring beings & should wear their hair down & set a example & comfort the men – i think even brush waves show a constant effort to always keep things in order in line & precise – gray hair is wisdom – hopefully I get to see the day where I get more gray besides my mustache & chin :- ) Kings & Queens Reign when they drink Rain – Water is Heaven scent cent sense sent

    Devin H Clark on Facebook

  • Troy Gilbert

    OMG! This whole album was THE soundtrack for my freshman year in college. I have always loved this song – the piano part particularly really jams. It’s also so 80s because I remember it being about dance aerobics which isn’t as popular anymore (and I miss that trend). I still listen to it on the treadmill at the gym at 55 – aint nothing like screaming “every morning when we wake, to make up for that piece of cake we ate last night…whattya do? we do what’s right..alright? alright!”. Thanks Tracee for this revisit. I think your interpretation of this being an empowerment song is spot on. There will be no doubt. Eat your heart out.

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