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‘I have a new squad.’ Pressley says she’s heard from fellow alopecia sufferers after revealing hair loss

Representative Ayanna Pressley shared her hair loss in a video for The Root.

Representative Ayanna Pressley said Friday that she’s seen an outpouring of support in the wake of her video announcing her hair loss, including from other people who are living with alopecia.

“I have a new squad now, the bald squad. And all of these people living with alopecia, men and women alike, who have experienced hair loss, have been reaching out and saying, ‘welcome to the alopecia family,’ ” she told WGBH Radio hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.

Pressley announced in a video published by The Root on Thursday that she has recently gone bald after first noticing signs of hair loss in the fall. In the video, she described the dread she felt waking up each morning to the loss of more and more hair until finally losing the last of it the night before the House’s historic impeachment vote.

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“I am making peace with having alopecia. I have not arrived there, I am very early in my alopecia journey. But I’m making progress every day," she said.

Pressley appeared without her wig at the end of the video, which was shared widely after it was published and made national headlines. Many called Pressley’s decision to share her hair loss publicly a brave one.

“Could you imagine losing all your hair on the eve of an enormously public day? And then turning that intensely intimate ordeal to make space for others? Ayanna, you are a living blessing,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow member of “The Squad” of progressive congresswomen of color, said Thursday in a tweet.

Another Squad member, Representative Ilhan Omar, called her “inspiring,” while Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis thanked her for “daring courageously to live authentically.”

Explaining why she decided to go public, Pressley told WGBH that as a person in a leadership position, it was her responsibility to be forthcoming with the change to “create space” for others.

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“I think that’s what’s incumbent upon all of us in positions of leadership,” she said. “There’s nothing extraordinary about me, I don’t think I did anything exceptionally brave yesterday.”

She told Braude and Eagan that while she knew her decision to wear Senegalese twists would pave the way for other black women and girls to be themselves, “I did not realize the extent to which that would be true when it comes to hair loss.”




Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.