Rep. Ayanna Pressley Lives With Alopecia, Reveals Herself Without Hair

"I feel the most unlike myself when wearing a wig."

Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, known for being a straight shooter and high-profile member of the The Squad, publicly revealed on Thursday for the first time that she has an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

What We Know:

  • Pressley (45) decided to take a break from the Senegalese twists she is usually known in light of something different. It isn’t just a style choice, it’s a necessity since she is living with alopecia, a condition that causes your hair to fall out in patches.
  • At the beginning of a video interview with The Root, Pressley is seen saying “This is my official revealing, I have only been bald in the privacy of my home and in the company of my close friends.”
  • Although there are many types of alopecia, the most common types are alopecia areata, alopecia totals, and traumatic alopecia. Alopecia areata can happen to any part of the body and is caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles. Alopecia totalis causes complete baldness on the scalp and traumatic alopecia comes from chemicals, scarring, or tension on the scalp.
  • As many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. are affected by alopecia and others have a lifetime risk of 2.1% of contracting it. Treatments available include oral and injectable medications, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
  • Pressley says she became aware of her condition last fall after getting her hair braided and repeatedly waking up in the morning to total hair loss across her scalp.
  • Pressley is not the only high-profile person to reveal she is dealing with the condition. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith said in 2018 on her Facebook show Red Table Talk that she also suffers from it.

Even though she is still making peace with her alopecia, Pressley said she is finally ready to publicly step in her truth rather than run from it.  She reflected, “It’s about self-agency. It’s about power. It’s about acceptance.”

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Dominique Browder is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo.

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