Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) has courageously announced that she lives with alopecia. In an emotional video for The Root, a Black-centric site, Rep. Pressley describes how her Senegalese braids came to define her campaign and her self-image — and how hair loss has changed those things, but how she's determined to enjoy life and keep her black identity. Pressley also bravely debuted her bald head, showing the reality of alopecia.
Here's some quick background on Pressley.
Pressley was elected to Congress in 2018, riding the "Blue Wave" that brought more women of color like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) into the House of Representatives. Together, these four congresswomen are lovingly referred to as "the squad."
Soon she began noticing symptoms of alopecia.
The American Academy of Dermatology defines alopecia areata as "sudden hair loss" and can occur anywhere on the body. As The Root notes, African Americans experience alopecia at a higher rate compared to the rest of the general population.
Pressley began discovering symptoms in the fall of 2019 when she re-doing her twists. "From there, it accelerated very quickly," she said. "I'd be waking up every morning to [full sinks] of hair." She tried "all the tools that I had been schooled and trained in throughout my life as a Black woman," including silk pillowcases, hair wraps, and bonnets.