- Representative Ayanna Pressley just revealed that she has been fighting alopecia.
- In a video for The Root, Pressley says she first started losing her hair last fall.
- The Congresswoman reveals her bald head in an effort to "create space for others."
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley opened up today for the first time about her battle with alopecia, the condition that causes hair loss. In an interview with The Root , the Massachusetts representative discussed when she first started losing her hair and her emotional reaction to the moment she lost her final strand, and, in a strong and powerful moment, revealed her bald head to the world.
At a time when appearance still plays an important (albeit overemphasized) role in politics, it was both a personal and political statement that Pressley says hopes creates space for others.
As a Black woman, the personal is political. My hair story is no exception. Sharing a very personal story today to create space for others: https://t.co/1sh11Q1Qp2 Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley)
Pressley told The Root that she first noticed she was losing her hair when she was getting her hair retwisted last fall. The Senegalese twists that the Congresswoman typically sports have become almost her signature hairstyle and, the moment she first tried the look, she said she felt like she "met herself for the first time."
Soon, though, she started waking up to larger and larger bald patches (alopecia areata) on her scalp. The stress of being on Capitol Hill only added additional pressure, she said, and the day Pressley lost her last piece of hair was also the night before the House of Representatives was to vote on Donald Trump's impeachmentand the anniversary of her mother's death.
"I was missing her," she explained in the video. "I was mourning my hair. I was mourning the state of our democracy. I was mourning my mentor, Chairman Elijah Cummings."
The next morning, Pressley wore a last-minute, custom wig from Jamal Edwards when she joined other Democrats in the House in voting for impeachment, but she said, at that moment, even though she had a full head of hair, she had never felt "more naked."
Something changed for Pressley after the vote. She decided that she had to go public about her alopecia, if not for her, then for the little girls in her district and the others like her.
"I am ready now because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that that secret carries with it, and because I'm not here just to occupy space, I'm here to create it," she shared in the video as she stared directly into the camera, completely bald (alopecia totalis) with a bright red lip and an expression of sheer courage.
Since the video was posted earlier today, many have already taken to social media to express their support for the Congresswoman and share their own stories of hair loss.
Could you imagine losing all your hair on the eve of an enormously public day? And then turning that intensely intimate ordeal to make space for others? Ayanna, you are a living blessing. Everyone, please take a moment out of your day to watch @AyannaPressley s #BlackHairStory . https://t.co/0G9NCaPmuG Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC)
Thank you for continuing to show us its ok to walk in our authenticity. Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders)
You are beautiful inside and out! Lauren Underwood (@LaurenUnderwood)
I love you. You inspire me everyday. Thank you for sharing this powerful story. Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn)
Ayanna, you are a force. Im happy that if Im blessed to have a daughter one day, she will have role models like you. Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph)
Pressley also said she is "very early in her alopecia journey" but feels like she is making progress every day to be at peace with her new reality.