January 17, 2020

"Everything I do is political," says Representative Ayanna Pressley, about revealing that she is, in fact, completely bald.



There's no explanation of why she lost all her hair — was it traction alopecia from wearing tight braids? — but she does explain why she's choosing to reveal that she is bald, rather than simply hiding it by continuing to wear wigs. The explanation is that everything she does is political, and that, she says, pushed her to talk about it and actually to show it (which you can see at 6:00 in the video).

I think she looks fine being out-and-proud bald (other than that she's projecting sadness and loss). I wish more people who go bald would be openly bald. If you're bald and you choose to wear wigs, it may be a good idea to wear a perfectly wiggy wig — like they say in the old song, a "wig-hat" — so that there's no expression of hiding or shame.

I think of Andy Warhol. He wore wigs from 1955 on, and they were very wiggy-looking wigs. From "The Andy Warhol Diaries":
Tuesday, March 15, 1983 It was a beautiful day. Walked on the street and a little kid, she was six or seven, with another kid, yelled, “Look at the guy with the wig,” and I was really embarrassed, I blew my cool and it ruined my afternoon. So I was depressed.
If you're wearing obvious wigs, you might still care a lot about being seen bald. In 1985, a woman grabbed his wig off his head:
Wednesday, October 30, 1985 ... The day my biggest nightmare came true....  I’d been signing America books for an hour or so when this girl in line handed me hers to sign and then she—did what she did...

[She pulled Andy’s wig off and threw it over the balcony to a male who ran out of the store with it. Bernard held the female while the store called the police but Andy declined to press charges. The staff at Rizzoli asked him if he’d like to stop, but there were people with books still waiting so he said no, that he would finish. The Calvin Klein coat he was wearing had a hood, so he pulled it up over his head and kept signing.]

I don’t know what held me back from pushing her over the balcony. She was so pretty and well-dressed. I guess I called her a bitch or something and asked how she could do it. But it’s okay, I don’t care—if a picture gets published, it does. There were so many people with cameras. Maybe it’ll be the cover of Details, I don’t know. If I would’ve hit the girl or something then I would’ve been wrong and there would be lawsuits and everything. It’s getting violent out there again, like the sixties.... She was really pretty, a nice-looking well-dressed girl. They had her cornered for a while and then they let her go. It was too unusual. I guess these people had gone around telling everybody they were going to do it, because a lot of people later said they’d heard things. It was so shocking. It hurt. Physically. And it hurt that nobody had warned me.

And I had just gotten another magic crystal which is supposed to protect me and keep things like this from happening. So I was too nerve-racked, it was like in a movie. I signed for one and a half hours more I guess, pretending that it didn’t mean anything, and eventually it doesn’t. You have to live with it. It was like getting shot again, it wasn’t real. I was just the comedian there, pleasing the people. And it was so close to Halloween....
So, despite the wigginess of his wigs, he really was ashamed. I can see why Pressley might want to deal with her bad feelings about baldness by making people look right at it. Face your fears.

But, you may ask, is it political? I'd say:

1. If it makes you feel better to visualize the personal as political, go ahead.

2. If your politics include convincing other people that "political" is a big category, then whether it's political or not, your characterizing it as political is political.

3. Hairstyles really are political!

91 comments:

traditionalguy said...

OK. Bald is beautiful. But just don't give upon orthodontic teeth straightening , face lifts and Melania level couture.

langford peel said...

They should transplant her pubic hair because she really is a cunt.

Problem solved.

J. Farmer said...

Never touch a sister’s bald spots.

Shouting Thomas said...

Very little that I do is political.

Iman said...

Cry wolf and let loose teh Wigs of War!

Beth B said...

Impeachment Eve? Why mar what should have been a moving admission & affirmation of personal strength with that nonsense? Oh, I forgot. As she said, everything for her is political.

Fernandinande said...

Squad Member Opens New Front in World War Hair

"...to create community for those of us who have had complicated relationships with our hair."

gspencer said...

John D. Rockefeller, leader of the Rockeller Clan, also had alopecia. And he almost made to 100 years of age.

n.n said...

Do what you can, when you can, within reason. Perhaps it's time to shame the shameless.

Achilles said...

There are so many people who just don't like politics.

And you are forcing us to deal with politics.

Not a good move.

You should just leave us alone, stop trying to take our stuff, and stop telling us how to live.

One way or another you are going to leave us alone.

rehajm said...

One more punch in her victim card. Follically Challenged.

rehajm said...

Incidentally, when men are follically challenged and try to do something about it they are vain nitwits. Women get a telethon...

rcocean said...

I Love those Warhol quotes. Its shocking to read his Wikipedia article. He was shot and nearly killed by a crazy left-wing feminist in 1968. AND 3 years later this kook was out of jail and stalking him! Here's what she said about attempted murder:

I consider that[trying to kill Warhol] a moral act. And I consider it immoral that I missed. I should have done target practice.

Note: She didn't "miss" she just didn't kill him.

Nonapod said...

As a black woman, the personal is political.

This need to frame every aspect of your life as "political" seems very sad. When someone describes something as "political" I immediately think of it as a subject that is adversarial, unhappy, angry, and humorless. Maybe that's not a fair way to think about political topics, but that's what I think of.

And it seems more than a little presumptuous to declare that personal things are political for an entire race/gender group.

rcocean said...

Women and men don't feel the same about being bald. Women French Collaborators had their hair shaven off, and it was considered a cruel punishment. I've known several women who went through chemotherapy and the first thing they did was buy wigs.

Women always pull this "She looks so good bald" and "She looks so good with that crew cut". and they are usually lying.

h said...

She wants us to talk about the issue, so... Is hair loss more common among black women, and if so, is it because they use so many harsh chemicals on their hair or because they braid their hair?

Churchy LaFemme: said...

It's too late mama!

walter said...

Oh crap. Gonna put my crystal on Ebay.

Yancey Ward said...

Is she going to stop wearing wigs? I don't have a problem with hers- I couldn't tell it was a wig. Like Elaine in Seinfeld, I only pay attention when it is obviously a wig- like some of Pressley's colleagues in the House.

Yancey Ward said...

Of course, there is Costanza.

walter said...

A Ringo struggling for attention.

J. Farmer said...

rcocean:

I Love those Warhol quotes. Its shocking to read his Wikipedia article. He was shot and nearly killed by a crazy left-wing feminist in 1968. AND 3 years later this kook was out of jail and stalking him! Here's what she said about attempted murder:

The made a film about this called I Shot Andy Warhol with Lili Taylor playing Valerie Solanas. It's a good movie, and I've always loved Lili Taylor.

66 said...

Speaking of bald, the C-Span video of CJ Roberts before he swears in the senators shows some oddness on the top of his head. Does he wear a toupee?

Nonapod said...

Is hair loss more common among black women,

From what I gather, yes. It seems to be related to traction alopecia from tight braids and weaves. Diabetes may also play a factor. Via Althouses link

Nearly 60% of the women showed signs of advanced central hair loss with scarring. Many of these women also had Type 2 diabetes and bacterial infections, suggesting that the hair loss may be related to underlying metabolic irregularities.

I don't know if this is common knowledge among African American women or not, but if it isn't it hopefully will become so. I can't imagine too many women would want to go bald if they could avoid it.

J. Farmer said...

Women always pull this "She looks so good bald" and "She looks so good with that crew cut". and they are usually lying.

What are some examples of women looking good with bald heads? Sinead O'Connor? Demi Moore in GI Jane? Certainly not the Manson groupies.

Chuck said...

Thanks to Althouse's fastidious blog organization and brilliant tagging, my search of her "bald" tag allowed me to quickly search for and find this:

https://althouse.blogspot.com/2012/04/shaving-your-balding-head-is-like.html

One of Althouse's shortest and most articulate posts. I think about it all the time, to this day. There were 38 comments back then. I didn't read them all very closely, but there were plenty of rejections of Althouse's point from follicularly-challenged readers. Oh, and one (it was 2012!) mention of Donald Trump's "combover." I did not post a comment. At that time, I did not know much about, or care anything about, Scott Adams or Joe Rogan.

Birches said...

Since moving to the South, I am aware that a lot of women wear wigs. It's a thing.

Francisco D said...

"...to create community for those of us who have had complicated relationships with our hair."

Black women tend to have a lot of issues with their hair. A politically correct reason is that they are trying to copy White standards of female beauty. There is some truth to that.

Gunner said...

It should be more embarrassing for her to be endorsing the Hate Hoax promoting Root website.

Yancey Ward said...

Sinead O'Connor could pull it off- she looked hot to me. And, Demi Moore was hot in GI Jane, but she was attractive with her hair, so I am not sure what I was responding to in that case.

SDaly said...

There are lots of wig shops around here because there is a large population of Orthodox Jewish women. I've always thought it was odd that those women can show hair, in whatever style, as long as it was a wig, but cannot show their own hair, however drab it may be.

Warhol's quotes are the best.

I signed for one and a half hours more I guess, pretending that it didn’t mean anything, and eventually it doesn’t. You have to live with it. It was like getting shot again, it wasn’t real. I was just the comedian there, pleasing the people. And it was so close to Halloween.

Nonapod said...

If a women is already very attractive, being bald can often give them a sort of unusual and slightly exotic look, enhancing their natural appeal.

But it's a little different if a woman is plain and frumpy and have the bad luck of going bald.

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

There is some truth to that.

Some?! Black women spend hours and hours at salons getting their hair chemically relaxed and straightened and then have to assiduously avoid getting it wet.

SDaly said...

Everything I know about Africa comes from 1970's National Geographics, but weren't most traditional African hairstyles just very short or shaved heads for men and women?

robother said...

Someone's gotta be Lenin to AOC's Marx.

walter said...

Chuck's nostalgia link:
"Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist."

Unknown said...

She needed more Wokemon points intersectional points

Now "bald" is a protected victim category.

VERY CREATIVE

Unknown said...

Is she wearing a Merkin as well?

Pressley needs another presser...

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Grass doesn't grow on a busy street

That trope now invalid

Will Cate said...

I have a close female friend to whom this very same thing happened. She generally wears a wig which resembles her now-gone hair.

wendybar said...

TDS will cause alopecia!!!

Iman said...

How would ya like to wake up next to that sourpuss every morning!?!?

The 59th Level of Hell.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

I don’t want no bald headed woman
It make me, it a make a me mean

jaydub said...

"One of Althouse's shortest and most articulate posts. I think about it all the time, to this day."

Chuck, have you shared this with your psychiatrist? Thinking about an eight year old post on baldness "all the time, to this day" may explain some of your other fucked up personality quirks. On the other hand, if you spent even more time on that baldness post, then perhaps you wouldn't have time to develop so many fucked up personality quirks. Anyhow, talk to the doc. Could be a breakthrough.

Sydney said...

There is a genetic basis for the increased frequency of alopecia in African-American women. Yes, it is very common. I know quite a few AA women who wear wigs.

dbp said...

I've been slowly going bald for 20 years and its never been much more than an irritation, but I sympathize with Pressley since she apparently went from a lot of hair to none in a short space of time.

Wince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wince said...

What's with that yellow costume @6:00 that makes her look like she's doing a screen test for the part of Mr. Freeze in the next Batman remake?

Ace Sullivan said...

i wore my braids purposefully...knowing that 'some' (read: whites) would read my braids as some militant action. uh, so some people would read your actions correctly? and they are the bad racists? it's hard to like black people a lot of the time. annoying broken record.

Rory said...

Alan Brady, and Laura Petrie, on baldness:

https://youtu.be/wGEOjxtQtWc

Cassandra said...

Women and men don't feel the same about being bald. Women French Collaborators had their hair shaven off, and it was considered a cruel punishment. I've known several women who went through chemotherapy and the first thing they did was buy wigs.

True! But things are changing somewhat.

My husband and I shaved our heads when our DIL started chemo and her hair started to fall out.

He said people were really nice to him (gentle, displaying concern about his health) when he interacted w/strangers. One lady actually reached out and touched his hand and said, "You take care of yourself, hon".

Oddly, people completely ignored it with me! The only real reaction I noticed was from a very small minority of older men who seemed to be offended (I think maybe assuming I was a lesbian or didn't like men? Hard to figure out). Or maybe they just were uncomfortable and didn't know what to say - who can tell what someone else is thinking.

OTOH, I had one guy in a leather motorcycle jacket hold the door for me with great courtliness. My DIL said (after we were out of earshot), "He was looking at you earlier - he things you're hot!"

Too funny.

I can see why some women would wear wigs and some wouldn't. I bought a nice one in case I had to show up for work, but never wore it. Hats were easier and frankly most of the time I just didn't bother. Our DIL did the same (hats/scarves in public, au naturel at home unless it was cold).

That's one thing that's surprising - you do get cold with no hair to hold the warm air next to your skin!

rcocean said...

"Sinead O'Connor could pull it off- she looked hot to me."

She looked like Fester to me. Most women with bald heads or super-short hair look like 13 y/o boys with big hips. Or as Ava Gardner once said of Mia Farrow:

I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a boy.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

There's a lot to be said for hats - if you have a medical problem and go bald.

rcocean said...

In fact, Bing Crosby used to wear a hat every time he went outside. Seems he hated the toupe. Women can wear all kinds of kooky or not-kooky headwear and people just think they're making a fashion statement. Men are more constrained. A suit with a hat, looks odd today, even though it was required before what, 1965?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

While I find the idea that "everything" she does should be political a pretty sad philosophy and very constipated way to live....I do sympathize with her feelings about losing her hair.

For many people, men and women, our hair is something that is very personal to us. We like our hair or hate our hair. Wish we had different hair. More hair. Less hair. But ultimately it is one of those visual things that define your looks. Not who you actually are....but your look and how you want to present yourself to the world.

I've always had very thick, wavy/curly, auburn hair. I love my hair. Got lots of compliments on my hair. For a while I wore my hair long, down to my waist. That was ok for a young hippie type of girl, but when I first got pregnant it was a PITA to take care of. Too much thick hair. So I had it cut off. The hairdresser didn't want to do it and I had to force her.

Gimme a head with hair. Hair Hair HAIR!!!! Wait...where was I? Oh yeah.....

It grew back of course :-) However, when I reached that certain age (menopause) my hair began to thin, and like Pressley it was very traumatic to see the amount of hair in the shower. Am I going to be one of those old ladies with a bald spot on top of my head. Very stressful. Bad enough to have the hot flashes...but to lose my hair?

Possibly for men it isn't quite that traumatic? Probably it is. For women your hair is often a big part of how you view yourself. Plus...socially, a bald woman is very weird.

Fortunately, that too passed and my hair grew back, still auburn and!!! even wavier than ever. Plus I now have a nifty white witchy woman streak on the left front of my hair. I feel like Cruella DeVille!!! Get compliments on that too. People think I did it on purpose.

Pressley looks very nice bald. Striking. She seems to have accepted it with grace and bravery. Don't let it define you though. You are who you are with or without your hair.

Lydia said...

Warhol had it easy compared with Mike Nichols, who suffered from alopecia totalis from early childhood and had no hair anywhere on his body, even wore fake eyebrows.

JohnAnnArbor said...

"Everything I do is political."

Is it normal to announce to the world how much of a bore you are?

dbp said...

My daughter shaved her head at the start of her freshman year of college. She learned a lot from it. Some guys she thought she had liked, turned out to be very judge-y. She found that dark lipstick and hoop earnings and a strong eye-makeup game are a good look. She learned that shaving your head right before a Burlington, Vermont winter is probably not the best timing.

Yancey Ward said...

"Is it normal to announce to the world how much of a bore you are?"

You should ask Chuck.

Iman said...

She been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Bald-headed woman never bargained for you
With Toothy McBigtits and Tilapia makes three
But you don’t get no egg roll, at least not for free, yeah

J. Farmer said...

Possibly for men it isn't quite that traumatic? Probably it is. For women your hair is often a big part of how you view yourself. Plus...socially, a bald woman is very weird.

I think it is certainly worse for women, because appearance is more important to a woman than to a man. Men are attracted to youth and beauty, and women are attracted to status and power

Francisco D said...

Some?! Black women spend hours and hours at salons getting their hair chemically relaxed and straightened and then have to assiduously avoid getting it wet.

I was trying to be understated, Farmer.

My first wife spent at least an hour every morning with her hot comb making her chemically relaxed afro just right. She got smart after our divorce (some say before our divorce) and put her hair in braids with extensions. She saved an hour a day and avoided the chemicals.

We used to get together with two of her college girlfriends a lot. They talked about hair, a hot topic. One was naturally gorgeous with a simple afro. The other two were openly envious.

narciso said...

she's trying to be the lightning that the other squad members have been,


https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/01/landmark-trade-deal-with-china-new-york-times-hardest-hit.php

Bay Area Guy said...

Brain loss theory would be more apt

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Cool part about bald is all the cool wigs. You can change your look at any moment. So much identity and esteem come from this weird stringy stuff that cascades down. Bald is beautiful. or can be. not always.

My bald head would be all wrong. I'm growing my own cell-phone towers.

madAsHell said...

Rumor has it.......Hillary without her wig was the visual inspiration for Gollum.

narciso said...


https://pjmedia.com/trending/sanity-at-last-court-refuses-to-kowtow-to-personal-pronouns-like-xemself-faerself/

Jim at said...

As a balding middle-aged male, can I claim cultural appropriation?

Danno said...

Blogger Chuck said..."Thanks to Althouse's fastidious blog organization and brilliant tagging, my search of her "bald" tag allowed me to quickly search for and find this:"

Good thing she doesn't have a bald-faced liar tag.

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

I was trying to be understated, Farmer.

"Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don't get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony's not really a, a high priority. We haven't had any irony here since about, uh, '83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at."

BUMBLE BEE said...

Not bald but notable, wig user Dolly Parton through the years has worn some real masterpieces. All the way back to the Porter Wagoner days. Gratifying research too!

Maillard Reactionary said...

Another bald black woman. Wow.

Unstated: Is she completely bald, or only on her head? Just asking.

Separately: According to my wife, a former observer, Oprah was in the forefront of the wig of the day trend. Such as it is.

Oprah could afford good ones, though.

Maillard Reactionary said...

rcocean @12:11 PM: As part of my effort to avoid committing immoral acts, I practice at the range every week.

Separately, I see that langford peel in the second comment anticipated my own prior in all but words. Well done sir.

Maillard Reactionary said...

rcocean @12:15 PM: If they're lesbians, they could be telling the truth.

Maillard Reactionary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Bald, like her face when lying

... or is it 'bold'

Is That Lie 'Bald-faced' or 'Bold-faced'?
And what about 'barefaced'?

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/is-that-lie-bald-faced-or-bold-faced-or-barefaced

Maillard Reactionary said...

SDaly: "... but weren't most traditional African hairstyles just very short or shaved heads for men and women?"

Perhaps, but the one I remember from the NatGeo was the tribe where the females used their hair as a support matrix for a mixture of mud and cow dung which, if one were lucky, became covered with a multitude of colorfully iridescent flies.

The pictures included some of the freshly prepared hopefuls, but none of the more fetchingly well-adorned ingenues.

Rockport Conservative said...

Many of us are aware of the long time blogger, Baldilocks. Juliette Akinyi Ochieng, is not actually bald but prefers that to dealing with longer hair.

Birches said...

You don't have to loose your hair anymore if you're on chemo. Google cold cap.

Bill Peschel said...

Wow, so many comments and no mention of Persis Khambatta from the first Star Trek movie.

Althouse don't attract no geeks.

Josephbleau said...

When I browsed this with reference to politics I started laughing, remembering the word "Pruggs"

Known Unknown said...

I have always found Warhol to be a surprisingly normal individual. Perhaps it was the hardscrabble Western PA upbringing in the Warhola household.

Josephbleau said...

You will have to excuse me I am taking an EdEx coure in Comediology, and need a personal joke for my homework.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

When I browsed this with reference to politics I started laughing, remembering the word "Pruggs"

you remembered! Nice!!

J. Farmer said...

Damn, I knew when I was replying that Mary's stuff would get deleted, but there was still a few things I wish had been left for posterity. Oh well.

JAORE said...

She views her hair styles as both who she is and a political statement. But then decries that some will view them as a negative about her.

Wake up dear, it's 2020, ANYTHING put out there as a political statement will be viewed as negative by some.

(Pssst, and that's even true for the people you like.)

JAORE said...

FWIW I still retain most of my hair, but it started waving the white flag several years ago.

ALP said...

Dayum DBQ posted what I would have for the most part - I too have "thick", curly dark brown hair that is thinning but my thickness is really just fluff and air. Like DBQ I may have a bald spot eventually. Am considering the cool tattoo on the bare scalp option - why not? A mandala with the center situated right on the top of my head. Being so short all the tall people can gaze at it and meditate.

Paul Doty said...

Fat, bald, and stupid is no way to go through life.