Pressley opened up about her condition for the first time Thursday, in a powerful, personal interview with The Root, appearing first with a wig, and then with a bald head for the first time. She said she felt it was important to free herself from her “secret,” come to terms with her diagnosis, and feel comfortable moving forward.
On Sunday, she took another step forward, sharing a wig-free selfie, using hashtags for “bald squad,” “bald baddies” and “bald is beautiful.”
She thanked her fellow alopecia sufferers for the “warm welcome,” adding “New year. New decade. New truths. New swag.”
Happy Sunday! #baldsquad #baldbaddies #baldisbeautiful Thank you for the warm welcome #alopecia nation #hairlosscrew. New year. New decade. New truths. New swag. #theyaintreadyforthissmoke pic.twitter.com/M3ggSNrV9B— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 19, 2020
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that prompts the immune system to attack hair follicles in people who are typically otherwise healthy, causing hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, it affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. of all ages, sexes and ethnic groups.
In revealing her condition, Pressley said she also hopes to reduce stigma around hair loss and tackle the scrutiny of how women wear their hair. On MSNBC on Sunday morning, host Joy Reid said the congresswoman had “won the week” for her brave revelation.
“As a woman and a woman in politics, and certainly as a black woman, everything is political,” Pressley told Reid in an interview. “This is not shocking. I mean, I’ve introduced legislation to guard against the fact that black girls are pushed out of the classroom for how they wear their hair. I have colleagues who have been pressured by supporters and donors alike not to allow their hair to go gray, colleagues who have been told that they should straighten their hair and not wear it curly. And so hair is political.”
.@RepPressley speaks on her having alopecia and opening up about her hair loss, telling @JoyAnnReid, "Hair is political. So far as who won the week it's the millions... that are living daily with the trauma and stigma of hair loss." #AMJoy pic.twitter.com/k6gaqbvzRt— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) January 19, 2020
As far as who “won the week,” Pressley told Reid it wasn’t her, but the “millions of those in this country who are living with the trauma and stigma of hair loss.” Navigating the world bald, she said, challenges “conventional norms and societal standards of what is beautiful, or what is handsome.”
She thanked and shouted out “bald nation” and her “fellow alopecians” for the messages she’s received since her announcement. “I am grateful that I have a platform to shine a light on this issue,” she said.
Pressley received a rush of support and solidarity in response to her first bald selfie. Her fellow congressional “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) gushed over her new look, while many of her fellow “bald nation” members shared their own #baldisbeautiful selfies.
Sis. You keep taking my breath away. Can we talk about this hat? I can’t get over it. Likely will never get over it. And with the matching lipstick? You have won 2020. I’m calling it now. It’s a wrap 💕👒💋— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 19, 2020
You look beautiful! I've had alopecia most of my life. Thank you for using your platform to educate more people on it. Now I'm trying to see if I can pull that hat off half as well as you! pic.twitter.com/JuJEV4P6uE— Stef with an F (@StefaniSloma) January 19, 2020
My nephew also has alopecia. Thank you for showing the world that there's nothing wrong with having no hair. pic.twitter.com/WbfNEuhyaS— KatiliaBadilia (@KBadilia) January 19, 2020
Whew! The flyness is off the chart. I stand with you, Madam Representative! Now I just need a hat. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/wgQRcJ4QBk— Telah TRU Ent (@TTRUENTSTYLE) January 19, 2020
You're BEAUTIFUL Queen👑❣— Michele Bradley (@bradley7268) January 19, 2020
Thank you for standing in your Truth & also, "Welcome!" pic.twitter.com/YidaVb913K
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.