One of Massachusetts' most widely known members of Congress, Ayanna Pressley, revealed for the first time that she has alopecia and is bald in an interview published Thursday.
In a video that accompanied her interview with The Root, Pressley showed her bald head for the first time on camera, saying, "I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that that secret carries with it."
The former Boston city councilor started losing her hair last fall, noticing some patches on her scalp before the process suddenly accelerated until she was fully bald on the eve of the U.S. House's vote to impeach President Donald Trump, she said.
Pressley's signature hairstyle has been her Senegalese and bomb twists, which she'd previously told The Root made her feel "my most authentic and powerful self" and brought positive feedback from black women across the United States who'd never seen braided hair on such a prominent politician.
After the interview was published, Pressley said she was sharing her "very personal story today to create space for others."
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, alopecia areata causes the body to attack its own hair follicles, causing hair loss anywhere in the body. It can manifest in patches of baldness, total hair loss on the scalp or complete hair loss for the entire body.
Pressley, a freshman in Congress whose primary victory over a longtime congressman made her a prominent face of the Democratic party's progressive wing, explained in the interview that she is making peace with alopecia and is making progress in accepting her new reality every day.
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"When I feel the most unlike myself is when I am wearing a wig," she said. "I think that I am on my way."