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Pressley: 'This Is My Official Public Revealing'

Congresswoman has lost all her hair from alopecia
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2020 4:45 AM CST

(Newser) – Rep. Ayanna Pressley says she isn't going to keep it a secret any longer: She has lost all of her hair due to alopecia. The Democratic congresswoman tells the Root that she first became aware of the condition last fall, when she was getting her hair retwisted. She says the autoimmune condition progressed rapidly, with "sinkfuls of hair" coming out daily, and the last of her hair fell out on the eve of her vote to impeach President Trump. Pressley, who was known for wearing her hair in Senegalese twists, says she wore a wig for the vote because she didn't want her bare head to be interpreted as a message. "This is my official public revealing," she says. "I'm ready now because I want to be free from the secret, and the shame that the secret carries with it."

Pressley says she hopes going public with the condition "starts a conversation about the personal struggles we navigate" and "creates awareness about how many people are impacted by alopecia." The New York Times reports that an estimated 6 million people in the US have alopecia, though many of them disguise it. "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?" tweeted fellow "squad" member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Jenn Jackson, an assistant professor for political science at Syracuse University, tells the Washington Post that stigma surrounding the condition often causes it to go undiagnosed in black communities, and it is "liberating" to see Pressley go public.

(Read more Ayanna Pressley stories.)

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