US Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-7th Mass.), who in 2018 became the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in the House of Representatives, recently made public that she has been diagnosed with alopecia areata. Pressley, who attended Boston University’s College of General Studies in the early 1990s, shared the news in a moving video on The Root, opening up about the fact that after first noticing that her hair was beginning to fall out this past autumn, she has now lost all her hair.
“I do believe going public will help,” Pressley says in the video, where she publicly showed her bald head for the first time. “Because I’m not here just to occupy space-I’m here to create it… 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. To all those sharing their personal stories in response, I see you.”
Alopecia areata is a disease that targets the hair shaft, says Lynne Goldberg, director of the Hair Clinic at Boston Medical Center. It typically first appears in young adulthood, although people of all ages can be affected. Goldberg, the Jag Bhawan Professor of Dermatology, and of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, talked with The Brink about alopecia and how she hopes Pressley’s disclosure about having the disease will raise awareness and funding for more research on its causes.