Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley announced that she has alopecia in a video published by The Root Thursday.
"This is my official public revealing," she said. "I have only been bald in the privacy of my home. And in the company of close friends.
"This is a word about why my black hair story is both personal and political."
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
Pressley spoke about her experience about five years ago when the the then-Boston City Councilwoman decided to wear her hair in Senegalese Twists.
"What started out as a transitional hairstyle ultimately became a statement and something I was very intentional about," she said. "I was very aware this hairstyle could be, would be, interpreted by some as a political statement that was militant.
"What I was not prepared for was the glorious gift of acceptance and community and the affirmation," she continued. "Now, I walk into rooms and little girls wear t-shirts that say, 'My congresswoman wears braids.'"
Watch more: Down to the Roots - Hair
Pressley added, "My twists have become such a synonymous and conflated part of not only my personal identity and how I show up in the world but my political brand. That's why I think it's important that I be transparent about this new normal and living with alopecia."
Pressley said in the video that she became aware of some patches in her hair last fall. The hair loss rapidly progressed from there.
"I had been waking up every morning to sinkfuls of hair," she said. "Every night, I was employing all the tools that I had been schooled and trained in throughout my life as a black woman because I thought that I could stop this."
Eventually, Pressley said, she lost the last of her hair on the eve of President Donald Trump's impeachment and felt that she could not mourn "what felt like the loss of a limb" before casting her vote in favor of impeachment.
At the 5:53 mark, Pressley revealed her new look.
"I am ready now because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that that secret carries with it," she said. "I am not here just to occupy space. I am here to create it."
In a statement to WGBH News, Pressley said that she hopes her actions will spark discussions around hair loss.
"I hope this starts a conversation about the personal struggles we navigate and I hope that it creates awareness about how many people are impacted by Alopecia," she said. "To all those sharing their personal stories in response, I see you.”