Rep. Ayanna Pressley opens up about alopecia journey, reveals she is bald

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"I was mourning my mentor, Chairman Elijah Cummings", she said.

Pressley said she has been experimenting with wig units, one in which she named "The Ol' G" because it's her first wig and another she named "FLOTUS" because it "feels very Michelle Obama to me". "I'm here to create it".

Ms Pressley, 45, is a member of the so-called "Squad" of four progressive Democratic congresswomen of colour. They symbolized, like Rashida Tlaib's swearing-in throbe and Ilhan Omar's hijab, the long-awaited arrival of new energy and representation. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan Rep.

In an interview with The Root, the freshman lawmaker said her desire to be honest with her supporters at home and overseas, many of whom identified with her signature Senegalese twist hairstyle, spurred the decision to disclose her condition.

She explains how she recognized her twists "could be - would be - filtered and interpreted by some as a political statement that was militant", but also that she wasn't prepared for the acceptance and affirmation she received.

Senegalese twists are a protective hairstyle worn by black women, much like braided hairstyles.

Pressley in the interview now says she's "making peace" with the condition.

It felt that way, Pressley explained to The Root, because her hair had become a "synonymous part of not only my personal identity and how I show up for the world but my political brand".

It's the autoimmune disorder alopecia areata that makes the body attack its own healthy hair drastically slowing down production to the point that hair growth may stop. However, in a small number of people, it can cause total head or body baldness.

According to a July study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, African Americans experience alopecia areata at a higher rate than other racial groups, particularly traction alopecia - which can happen when hair is pulled at the roots for over long periods of time.


The Massachusetts Democrat told The Root that she started noticing her hair was falling out last autumn. It then quickly accelerated.

"I had been waking up every morning to sinkfuls of hair", she revealed. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters.

"I'm trying to get to a place where I give myself the space to be, to find joy in options", she concluded. "And the image in the mirror of a person who increasingly felt like a stranger to me". "I was completely bald, and in a matter of hours was going to have to walk into the floor of the House chamber, House of Representatives and cast a vote in support of articles of impeachment", Pressley said.

Feeling as though she was participating in a cultural betrayal, she immediately knew that she would go public when she was ready.

She said she was missing her mother and mourning the loss of her hair, the state of USA democracy and her mentor, Congressman Elijah Cummings, who died last October. I was mourning my hair.

She also said that going public with her alopecia - and her efforts to come to terms with it - might be personally beneficial.

"And I exited the floor as soon as I could and I hid in a bathroom stall". I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable. "I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. Because I felt like I owed all those little girls an explanation".

"The reality is I'm black". And I'm a black woman in politics. "Everything I do is political".

Pressley said that she learned of her alopecia diagnosis in 2019 after losing massive amounts of her natural hair.

"It's about self agency". She is the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from MA.

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