Why did Ayanna Pressley shave her head? The Massachusetts congresswoman and activist is a force to be reckoned with on today’s political stage thanks to her vocal endorsement of social issues. Recently, she has also opened up about her battle with Alopecia Totalis and how she made the decision to shave her head.
Meet Ayanna Pressley
American politician Ayanna Soyini Pressley was born on 3 Feb 1974 and is the representative for Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District.
She is very active on her Twitter account and has recently endorsed Rev Raphael Warnock in the current Georgia runoff elections.
Ayanna Pressley’s husband is Conan Harris. He was previously incarcerated for ten years on drug trafficking allegations and now works with Pressley to advocate for prison reforms and improved re-entry programs for those re-joining society after prison.
Why did Ayanna Pressley shave her head?
Ayanna Pressley revealed in January 2020 that she had been dealing with hair loss due to Alopecia Totalis.
Speaking with The Root on YouTube, she revealed that she used to wear wigs and extensions, but changed to Senegalese twists about four or five years ago.
Pressley knew that this hairstyle would be interpreted as a political statement. The hairstyle served to inspire many young black girls to appreciate their own hair and traditional black hairstyles.
However, while her braids were inspiring young women, Pressley was losing the rest of her hair. This process accelerated quickly and Pressley revealed:
“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”.
On the eve of the impeachment vote for Donald Trump, Pressley woke up to the final strands of her hair falling out.
On her reasons for opening up about the struggle with Alopecia, she said: “I want to be freed of the secret and the shame that the secret carries with it.”
Pressley also shared that she wanted to be open with the young women who had supported her because of her Senegalese twists. She felt like she was “taking part in a cultural betrayal” and wanted to be open with those who looked up to her.
Although publicly revealed in January of last year, Pressley has stated that she is still making peace with having Alopecia and that her self-acceptance is a work in progress.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that develops when “the body attacks its own hair follicles (where hair grows from), which can cause hair loss anywhere on the body.”
Hair loss can be unpredictable and hair may regrow for some, but not for others.
Alopecia is usually developed during childhood or teenage years.
Different types of Alopecia include:
Alopecia Areata: Patchy baldness that can occur anywhere on the body, such as the scalp, eyebrows or armpits.
Alopecia Totalis: Total hair loss on the scalp leaving the person completely bald.
Alopecia Universalis: Total hair loss on all parts of the body.
Ayanna Pressley has said that, most importantly, her reveal is: “about self agency, it’s about power, it’s about acceptance”.
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