Published: Sat, January 18, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Rep. Pressley Reveals Struggle With Alopecia, Resulting Baldness

Rep. Pressley Reveals Struggle With Alopecia, Resulting Baldness

"I think it's important that I'm transparent about this new normal", Pressley said.

The member of the four-strong, so-called "Squad" of progressive Democratic party newcomers to Congress disclosed her diagnosis in an exclusive video with the Root. The first black woman to represent MA in Congress, she sported her now-signature long, thick Senegalese twists on her campaign posters and on her inauguration day.

Predicting this would be "filtered and interpreted by some as a political statement that was militant", she instead received letters of support from women and girls across the country, she said. She says that thinking of all the young women who were inspired by her twists convinced her to go public: "I felt like I owed all those little girls an explanation".

To abandon her signature hairstyle, she says, felt like "cultural betrayal".

Pressley said she first realized she had "some patches" last fall while getting her hair re-twisted.

"So what started out as a transitional hairstyle ultimately became a statement, and something that I was very intentional about", she continued.

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

"When I saw myself in the mirror, he had done a attractive job, but I did not recognize myself", she said.

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"I've only been bald in the privacy of my own home and the company of close friends", she began. "I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed". It's definitely making me rethink I view my own hair and how much value I place on it. "And in a matter of hours, was going to have to walk into the floor, The House Chamber, House of Representatives and cast a vote in support of articles of impeachment. Everything that I do is political".

There is now no cure for alopecia and as Pressley explained in the reveal, her attempts at staving off hair loss with silk pillows and bonnets did not work.

"I did not want to go to sleep because I did not want to wake up, 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". "I'm here to create it and I want to be free", Pressley proudly proclaimed.

Additionally, she admits that she did not want to feel like she was living in secret.

According to a July study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, African Americans experience alopecia areata at a higher rate than other racial groups, particularly traction alopecia - which can happen when hair is pulled at the roots for over long periods of time.

Pressley told The Root she felt even more emotional because this was happening on the anniversary of her mother's death.

In the reveal, she describes feeling naked, exposed and vulnerable, exiting the House floor and hiding in the bathroom stall as soon as she could. And I'm a black woman. "I was wearing this wig, fully clothed". "There's nothing extraordinary about me, I don't think I did anything exceptionally fearless yesterday".

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.

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