US Rep. Ayanna Pressley opens up about her auto-immune disease, alopecia

Shayna sits down for a candid one-on-one with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who has gone public with the medical condition that caused her hair loss.


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THAT WAS HER POWER ALL ALONG, THE POWER OF REPRESENTATION. [APPLAUSE] >> MASSACHUSETTS’ FIRST BLACK CONGRESSWOMAN, AYANNA PRESSLEY. SHAYNA: JANUA 20, 2020. BOSTON’S ANNUAL MARTIN LUTHER KING BREAKFAST. CONGRESSWOMAN AYANNA PRESSLEY’S FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE SINCE SHARING HER SECRET WITH THE WORLD. REP. PRESSLEY: I REMEMBER WALKING ACROSS THAT STAGE AND WAS WALKING WITH MY HEAD DOWN. I HEARD MY MOTHER, MAY SHE REST IN PEACE AND POWER, SAY PICK YOUR HEAD UP, SO I LIFTED MY HEAD IN THAT MOMENT AND SAW THIS STANDING OVATION. SHAYNA: FOUR DAYS EARLIER SHE REVEALED TO THE WORLD SHE HAD LOST ALL HER HAIR. REP. PRESSLE THIS IS MY OFFICIAL PUBLIC REVEALING SECRET AND THE SHAME THAT THAT SECRET CARRIES WITH IT. SHAYNA: RAW AND EMOTIONAL, PRESSLEY EXPLAINS SHE HAS AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, ALOPECIA. REP. PRESSLEY: I AM MAKING PEACE WITH HAVING ALOPECIA. SHAYNA: WE SAT DOWN TOGETHER FOR AN INTERVIEW SHORTLY AFTER PRESSLEY’S ANNOUNCEMENT. SHE WAS STILL ADJUSTING TO HER NEW REALITY. REP. PRESSLEY: I HAVEN’T FIGURED THIS OUT. I HAVE MOMENTS WHERE I PASSED MY REFLECTION IN THE WINDOW OR MIRROR AND IT IS VERY HARD, BECAUSE THIS ALL HAPPENED SO QUICKLY AND I DON’T RECOGNIZE MYSELF. SHAYNA GONE WERE HER TRADEMARK SENEGALE TWISTS, SEEN BY SOME AS A POLITICAL STATEMENT AND OTHERS AS UNPROFESSIONAL. REP. PRESSLEY: THERE WERE MANY A NAYSAYER IN MY LIFE WHO SAID YOU CANNOT RUN FOR CONGRESS WITH YOUR HAIR IN THIS HAIRSTYLE. PEOPLE WILL NOT THINK IT IS CONGRESSIONAL, PROFESSIONAL. SHAYNA: BUT THE PEOPLE SPOKE, EMBRACING WHAT HAD BECOME THE CROWN FOR HER AUTHENTIC SELF. REP. PRESSLEY: IT CREATED REPRESENTATION. MANY PEOPLE, YOUNG GIRLS, WOULD WANT TO TAKE A SELFIE AND TALK ABOUT HOW THEY WERE WEARING THEIR HAIR IN SENEGALES TWISTS BECAUSE THEY HAD SEEN ME DO IT AND IT GAVE THEM PERMISSION TO DO IT, IN SCHOOL, AND MANY PROFESSIONAL WOMEN ON THEIR JOB SPECIFICALLY. SHAYNA: TODAY PRESSLE IS ONE OF 7 MILLION AMERICANS LIVING WITH ALOPECIA. HERS IS THE RAREST FORM, MEANING A TOTAL LOSS OF ALL BODY HAIR. THE CONDITION HAS NO ONE CAUSE. PRESSLEY FIRST MADE THE DISCOVERY AT THE HAIRDRESSERS IN 2019. THE HAIR LOSS PROGRESSED QUICKLY. REP. PRESSLEY: THE STYLIST SAID YOU HAVE A COUPLE SPOTS. FROM THERET RAPIDLY ACCELERATED. MY BRAIDS WERE JUST FALLING OUT. I WAS WAKING UP EVERY MORNING TO SINKFULS OF HAIR. I WAS DOING MY BEST TO CREATIVELY CONCEAL IT. IN A FOUR TO SIX WEE PERIOD, I LOST ALL THE HAIR ON MY FACE AND BODY. SHAYNA: T LAST DAY OF HAIR FALLING OUT, THE DAY OF DONALD TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT. PRESSLEY CAST HER VOTE, THEN HID IN THE BATHROOM. WHAT EMOTIONS WERE YOU FEELING AT THAT TIME? REP. PRESSLEY: ULTIMATELY AT THAT MOMENT WHAT I FELT WAS SAD. IT WAS TRAUMATIC. I FELT SHAME. ♪ SHAYNA: STILL, PRESSLEY KNEW EVEN THEN SHE HAD TO GO PUBLIC WITH HER CONDITION. REP. PRESSLEY: I DID NOT FEEL I COULD AUTHENTICALLY GOVERN OR CONTINUE TO NAVIGATE THE WORLD WTITHOUT TELLING MY TRUTH. SHAYNA: THE RESPONSE, SHE SAYS, BOTH HUMBLING AND OVERWHELMING. AND NOW SHE IS FOCUSED ON CREATING SPACE FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH ALOPECIA. REP. PRESSLEY: THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE — TO EDUCATE PEOPLE FOR THE DISCRIMINATION FACING THE WORLD WITH BOLDNESS. WHETHER A MAN OR WOMAN, TRAUMATIC HAIR LOSS TAKES A TOLL ON YOUR SELF-ESTEEM AND NAVIGATING THE WORLD SOCIALLY CAN BE UNCOMFORTABLE. BUT WHEN YOU ARE A WOMAN AND BALD, IT DOES ADD ANOTHER LAYER. THE WORLD IS USED TO BALD MEN, THEY ARE NOT USED TO BALD WOMEN. SHAYNA: THE 46-YEAR-OLD CONGRESSWOMAN SAYS SHE IS STILL MAKING PEACE WITH HER CONDITION. IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE, SHE ADDS, WITHOUT THE HELP OF A LOVING SUPPORT SYSTEM. REP. PRESSLEY: I TRULY HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IN THIS ALOPECIA COMMUNITY I AM NOW A PART OF. ♪ SHAYNA: YOU CAN HEAR MORE FROM MY INTERVIEW WITH CONGRESSWOMAN PRESSLEY ON CHRONICLE PODCAST AVAILABLE NOW ON ALL PODCAST APPS. UP NEXT, FUNCTIONAL, FUN AND FUNKY FACIAL

US Rep. Ayanna Pressley opens up about her auto-immune disease, alopecia

Shayna sits down for a candid one-on-one with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who has gone public with the medical condition that caused her hair loss.


For more with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, check out Shayna’s extended interview with the Congresswoman on Chronicle the Podcast.

For more with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, check out Shayna’s extended interview with the Congresswoman on Chronicle the Podcast.

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