As Black women, we grow up with the understanding that our hair is the physical manifestation of our ideological crown. Despite this fact, the same head of hair that should empower us can make us feel the most vulnerable––that's exactly why Rep. Ayanna's Pressley's choice to reveal her battle with alopecia turned out to be one of the difficult decisions of her political career.
While we may know her has the Black AF representative who will unapologetically rock Senegalese twists at the House of Chambers or the cookout, the congresswoman recently revealed that she was managing a very real emotional crisis behind the scenes.
In a recent interview with The Root, the Massachusetts politician opened up about the life-changing secret that, until now, she's only been able to share in the privacy of her own home. According to her, being transparent about both her battle and newfound baldness is the only way to truly find freedom.
Ayanna told the publication that she first noticed symptoms of her condition at the hair salon and soon after, the condition accelerated quickly. She explained:
"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."
Despite sleeping on a silk pillow, trying new products, and several other quick fixes, Ayanna soon found that her attempts to regrow her hair were futile and she felt helpless. After inspiring women across the country to be proud of their crowns, Ayanna now felt that she had lost hers and had no time to mourn––not to mention that all of this was happening during one of the most important times in her political career.
"My twists have become such a synonymous & a conflated part of not only my personal identity & how I show up in the… https://t.co/piXfWkNC82— The Root (@The Root)1579195153.0
"I was completely bald and in a matter of hours, I was going to have to walk into the floor in the House chambers and cast a vote in favor of articles of impeachment. So I didn't have the luxury of mourning what felt like the loss of a limb. It was a moment transformation not of my choosing but I knew the moment demanded that I stand in it and that I lean in."
Ayanna shared that the moment she walked off of the House of Chambers floor, she fled to the bathroom and erupted into tears. She shared:
"I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt betrayed. And then I also felt that I was participating in a cultural betrayal because of all of the little girls who look up to me, take selfies with me, and hashtag 'twist nation'. I felt like I owed all of those little girls an explanation. My husband says that I don't and that everything doesn't have to be political, but the reality is that I'm Black and I'm a Black woman and I'm a Black woman in politics. Everything that I do is political."
It is for this reason that Ayanna has come forward with her story and let her bald beauty shine. For Ayanna, being transparent about her battle has catalyzed her healing in a way she couldn't have imagined.
"This is my official public revealing. I'm ready now because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that secret carries with it. And because I'm not here just to occupy space, I'm here to create it and I want to be free. I am making peace with having alopecia. I have not arrived there. I am very early in my alopecia journey, but I'm making progress every day. And that's why I'm doing this today. It's about self-agency. It's about power. It's about acceptance. Right now on this journey, when I feel the most unlike myself is what I am wearing, a wig. So I think that means I'm on my way."
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Featured image screengrab via The Root.