It’s no secret that Representative Ayanna Pressley is a brave woman.
She then called for the impeachment of President Trump.
But for Pressley, revealing that she has alopecia areata is likely one of the hardest things she’s done. In an exclusive video for The Root, the freshman Democrat told the world that she has the autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
Alopecia affects approximately 6.8 million people in the United States and disproportionately affects Black women.
Pressley discovered she had the disease last year when she was getting her hair re-twisted and was told that she had some bald patches. She found herself waking up each morning to “sinkfuls of hair.” Pressley thought that following the traditional “Black hair routines” would stop her hair loss.
“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,” Pressley added.
Yet, Pressley continued losing hair. The hair loss got so bad that every morning, she dreaded looking at her reflection in the mirror, “a person who increasingly felt like a stranger.”
Then, it happened. December 2019, the day before the House voted to impeach Trump, Pressley’s hair had fallen entirely out. “I was completely bald,” she revealed.
“I was completely bald.”
But, Pressley didn’t have time to morn over what “felt like the loss of a limb.” Within hours, she reported to the House Chamber to cast her vote in support of the articles of impeachment.
“…I exited the floor as soon as I could, and I hid in a bathroom stall,” an emotional Pressley recalled. “I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt betrayed.”
But through it all, she’s learning to deal with it in hopes of fostering a community with those who share similar hair loss stories.
“I’m making progress every day. And that’s why I’m doing this today.”
On Twitter, Pressley wrote, “Today, I am sharing my #hairloss journey to create space and to create a community for those of us who have had complicated relationships with our hair. This was not easy, but vulnerability rarely is.”
“This was not easy, but vulnerability rarely is.”
The Twitter community showed their love for Pressley’s bravery:
.@AyannaPressley was already an incredible inspiration and among the most brilliant, fierce and dynamic members of really the most impressive freshman congressional class since 1992. But this? Beautiful beyond words. Kudos to the Rep and @TheRoot https://t.co/KWnXx12TVx— Joy WE VOTED!! WEAR A MASK!! Reid 😷) (@JoyAnnReid) January 16, 2020
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?— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 16, 2020
Ayanna, you are a living blessing.
Everyone, please take a moment out of your day to watch @AyannaPressley’s #BlackHairStory. https://t.co/0G9NCaPmuG
I'm in tears. To realize that she was dealing with this in addition to all of the obvious challenges that come with being who she is ... wow https://t.co/b2ErEAk2LH— Jenée (@jdesmondharris) January 16, 2020
I’m in tears. I have alopecia and it is a matter of time before I have this experience. I watch y’all joke about folks who brush their hair back and have no edges. Sometimes you don’t realize the people you hit with strays.— Somebody’s Somebody (@onlychyld) January 16, 2020
Thank you, Congresswoman.https://t.co/mWKn58CI2b
Rep. Ayanna Pressley is a national treasure. That’s it. That’s the tweet.— Michaela Moses (@michaela__moses) January 16, 2020
Wow, this is a powerful video! @AyannaPressley your vulnerability and strength are an inspiration. And your beauty (at every stage of your hair journey) will always shine through. Proud to have you as a MA rep. ✨🧚🏾♀️💕 https://t.co/dGYCfKD4VD— Nneka Onwuzurike (@mynnekathewoods) January 16, 2020
So grateful for Ayanna Pressley's bravery and witness!! This is so powerful and so beautiful!!https://t.co/lxM95lRhDS— Candice Marie Benbow (@CandiceBenbow) January 16, 2020
Rep. Pressley, this is beautiful and so are you. I'm so proud, and wishing you all the best, no matter how you decide to wear your hair.— A Shady Dame From Seville (@SorayaMcDonald) January 16, 2020