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Rep. Ayanna Pressley reveals her battle with alopecia and debuts bald head, says it's 'political'


Because, of course, it is

The Root video screenshot

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has revealed her battle with alopecia, debuting her bald head exclusively for The Root.

Calling hair "political," Pressley insists that her hairstyles — specifically her Senegalese twists — have become her "political brand."

What are the details?

On Thursday, Pressley debuted her bald head, disclosing that she suffers from alopecia areata, a physical condition that results in hair loss. Prior to her debut on The Root, Pressley only reportedly showed her bald head in private.

Pressley said that she learned of her alopecia diagnosis in 2019 after losing massive amounts of her natural hair. She pointed out that she lost her very last hair the night before the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

"I was completely bald. And in a matter of hours, was going to have to walk into the floor [of] the House Chamber ... and cast a vote in support of articles of impeachment," she recalled. "And so I didn't have the luxury of mourning what felt like the loss of a limb. It was a moment of transformation, not of my choosing."

In addition to appearing on The Root, Pressley also shared the video reveal on her Twitter page, writing, "As a Black woman, the personal is political. Sharing a very personal story today to create space for others."

Of her Senegalese twists, Pressley said she was "very aware" that the hairstyle could be construed as a militant "political statement"

"People said, 'People will think you're angry,'" she added. "And I said, 'Well, they already think that.'"

She added, "My twists have become such a synonymous and a conflated part of not only my personal identity and how I show up in the world, but my political brand. And that's why I think it's important that I'm transparent about this new normal and living with alopecia."

What's next?

Pressley added that she had every right to keep her hair struggle private, but she felt compelled to exercise her power.

"The reality is that I'm black and I'm a black woman and I'm a black woman in politics and everything I do is political," she reasoned. "I think you might overly intellectualize it and say it's just hair."

She added, "And that's why I'm doing this today. It's about self-agency. It's about power. It's about acceptance. Right now on this journey, when I feel the most unlike myself is when I am wearing a wig. So I think that means I'm on my way."


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