Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass, is opening up about her personal experience living with alopecia, showing off her bald (and beautiful) head for the first time.
In the new video, Pressley reveals how her Senegalese twists became her personal brand in politics, making her experience of losing her hair that much more difficult to come to terms with.
“In the fall, I was getting my hair retwisted, (it was) the first time that I was made aware that I had some patches,” said Pressley, who in 2018 became the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. “From there, it accelerated very quickly.”
“I had been waking up every morning to sinkfuls of hair," she revealed. “Every night I was employing all the tools that I had been schooled and trained in throughout my life as a black woman, because I thought that I could stop this. I wrapped my hair. I wore a bonnet. I slept on a silk pillowcase.”
However, despite all those attempts, her hair continued to fall out.
"I did not want to go to sleep because I did not want the morning to come where I would remove this bonnet and my wrap and be met with more hair in the sink and an image in the mirror of a person who increasingly felt like a stranger to me,” she said.
Pressley explained that the “last little bit” of her hair fell out the day before the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump back in December. Despite losing her all hair hours before, she still had to show up and do her civic duty.
“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.
"But I knew the moment demanded that I stand in it and that I lean in and I exited the floor as soon as I could and I hid in a bathroom stall," she continued. "I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt betrayed."
In the video. Pressley said that this is her first official public revealing and that she is "ready now" because she wants to be freed from the secret.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, alopecia is a common autoimmune skin disease, causing hair loss on the scalp, face and other areas of the body. The organization says it affects 6.8 million people in the United States.
“I'm very early in my alopecia journey. But I'm making progress every day. And that's why I'm doing this today,” she said. “It's about self-agency. It's about power. It's about acceptance. It's so interesting to me that right now on this journey, what I feel the most unlike myself is when I am wearing a wig. So I think that means I'm on my way.
“I’m trying to get to a place where I give myself the space to be, to find joy in options,” she concluded.