BOSTON (CBS) – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is opening up about her very personal battle with alopecia. She revealed her bald head for the first time in a video on Thursday.
“This is my official public revealing,” the representative from Boston says. “I am ready now because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that this secret carries with it.”
In an interview with The Root, Pressley says she first began noticing patches of her hair falling out in the fall and it quickly became worse until last month.
As a Black woman, the personal is political. My hair story is no exception. Sharing a very personal story today to create space for others: https://t.co/1sh11Q1Qp2
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 16, 2020
“Impeachment eve, the last little bit of my hair came out. I was completely bald, and in a matter of hours was going to have to walk into the floor of the House chamber, House of Representatives and cast a vote in support of articles of impeachment,” Pressley said. “I didn’t have the luxury of mourning what felt like a loss of a limb. It was a moment of transformation, not of my choosing.”
Pressley went on to say that she’s gotten to a place where she has made peace with her condition, although she admitted she is not all the way there yet.
Chrissa Kaselis of Walpole remembers that painful chapter of her own journey. She began losing her hair at 23. She’d just graduated college and was excited to be living and working in Boston. She woke up one morning and discovered patches missing from both sides of her head. Kaselis’ roommate admitted she’d been finding hair around their shared apartment.
“I would treat the patches with steroid injections, I would try topical ointments, this torture device to regrow the hair in that area, herbal teas, stood on my head. Inversion therapy. Meditation,” Kaselis recalls.
But over the last 20 years, the Walpole woman – a happy wife and mother – has come to terms with being bald. She enjoys her beautiful wig, and she’s comfortable without it.
“I’ve embraced it. I’m happy with it. I want the world to know this is called alopecia,” she said.
Wigs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Though alopecia is a medical condition, wigs often aren’t covered by insurance. Chrissa has spent 15 years working at the state and federal level to change that. And perhaps with Pressley on their side, it finally will.
“I know it’s a struggle for her. It’s a personal journey. For her to come right out and show the world she has alopecia is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Kaselis said.
In 2018, voters in the Massachusetts seventh district elected Pressley as the state’s first black Congresswoman. She announced earlier this week that she’s running for re-election.
Pressley is known nationally as one of four Democratic women representatives of color who make up “The Squad.”
To learn more about alopecia visit https://www.naaf.org/