By Thea Gay
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts’s 7th congressional district recently came forward about her natural hair journey. It’s a story of love, loss, healing, and acceptance as she herself has had to come to terms with what her hair means to the world and to her image.
In January of 2020, Pressley came forward about her struggle with having alopecia (sudden hair loss). Pressley speaks on behalf of the journey that all Black people deal with as natural hair has always been seen as defying and even defiant. For years, Black hairstyles––especially on Black women––have been criticized as “ghetto” and unprofessional. Hair for Black women, regardless of if you have it or not, is political.
Learning to love your hair is a process, and when you do it’s so empowering. But losing it can feel like you’ve been robbed of the opportunity to reach self-love. Pressley’s decision to speak out comes from her passion to represent her community and others living with alopecia, and also to find healing within herself. By learning to accept who she is for how she is, Pressley openly wears her hair bald. This short poem is inspired by Pressley’s journey, her passion, and her continual leadership to never let someone else tell her story unless herself.
I am not what you think
But I am all that you are
My hair is my weapon
My personal tool
My ability to be free from the reigns of your rule
No matter how it chooses to be, it sends a message to be known
Something that needs to be heard, more importantly shown
It’s careful, powerful, and strong
My blackness is my beauty even with no hair at all
Photo Credit: The Root