It’s no secret that Rep. Ayanna Pressley is one brave woman.
Back in 2018, she ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress against a popular incumbent and won, which led to her calling for the impeachment of President Trump, which then led her to defend herself when the president tweeted that she and other members of Congress should go back to where she came from.
But for a Black woman, to reveal this one thing must have been one of the hardest things she’s ever done. In an exclusive video for The Root, the freshman Democrat told the world that she has alopecia and showed off her beautiful bald head.
“In the fall, when I was getting my hair retwisted, is the first time that I was made aware that I had some patches,” Pressley said. “From there, it accelerated very quickly and got to the point where she was “ waking up every morning to sinkfuls of hair.”
“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,” she added.
“And yet and still every morning, which I faced with dread, 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 continued.
Pressley said that the “last little bit” of her hair fell out the day before the House voted to impeach Trump last month.
“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. I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt betrayed.”
Luckily, her journey has gotten better, she says, stressing that ” I’m making progress every day. And that’s why I’m doing this today.”
“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.”
She jokes that she’s also given her wigs names after Michelle Obama and even “OG.”
On Twitter, Pressley wrote, “Today, I am sharing my #hairloss journey to create space and to create community for those of us who have had complicated relationships with our hair. This was not easy, but vulnerability rarely is.”
Listen, as Black women do have an extremely complicated relationship with our hair. Whether we should or not, so much of our identity, self-worth, and femininity are wrapped up in our crown and glory. Often times, we allow it to take over our lives and we have to let that go.
There’s something incredibly empowering seeing Pressley open up and be so brave about what she is going through. It’s definitely making me rethink I view my own hair and how much value I place on it.
While, I have always adored Pressley, but today made me love her even more. Clearly, I wasn’t alone. Take a look at all the love she got on Twitter for her act of 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
Rep @AyannaPressley, you are such a strong, inspiring woman. You lead every day, in so many different areas. You show that it is more than okay, it is -necessary- for us to be unapologetically ourselves in this life. Thank you. https://t.co/6J06IOxuHN— markira (@markira) January 16, 2020