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Rep. Ayanna Pressley Responds to Trolls After Going Public with Alopecia

Rep. Ayanna Pressley has a message for those who called her Mr. Clean after she went public with an autoimmune disease.

Last month Representative Ayanna Pressley publicly revealed her hair loss from alopecia, which is an autoimmune disease. In the video interview, Pressley opened up about the medical condition which in her situation, resulted in total hair loss. She also detailed the loss of identity she felt about losing her signature Sengalese twists, which as she explained, “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’m transparent about this new normal and living with alopecia.”

When mentioning her political brand, Pressley is referring to the work she has done on behalf of black girls and their hairstyles, introducing the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act) with several other Reps to ban hair discrimination. Since this Act, Senator Cory Booker has released a companion to it in the Senate, and other states have passed similar bills. To be sure, the loss of Pressley’s hair means more to her than her own identity, though that itself is a loss of which many are familiar with.

In the video released by The Root last month, Pressley allowed herself to be vulnerable in describing this great loss as well as feelings of betrayal to her culture. She explained that she needed to go public for all the little girls who come up to take “#twistnation” selfies with her, feeling that she owed them an explanation.

Since then, Rep. Pressley has experienced an outpouring of support from family, friends, and members of the public. However, internet “trolls,” as Pressley referred to them, have taken this opportunity to bully her online for her medical condition, calling her “Mr. Clean.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez immediately voiced her support for Pressley, saying, “They’re just mad because you pull off any and every look throw at you, meanwhile they can’t even put on a hat on their head without looking like baby peanut.” Pressley also had something to say, tweeting, “Dear Trolls. You really think I look like “Mr. Clean” ? Please. He never looked THIS clean. Sorry not sorry unapologetically rockin’ my crown triggers you. Proud #alopecian.”

Sources: CNN 02/09/2020, 01/16/2020; Boston Globe 12/05/2019; Pressley House of Reps. Website 12/05/2019; The Root 01/16/2020; Twitter 2020


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