My New Hero Is Bald: Breaking the Silence About Alopecia

Ayanna Pressley
Ayanna Pressley

I’ve long admired those among us who have the courage to “break the silence,” whatever their “breaking the silence” reveals. Nothing helps us slay our dragons faster than bringing them out of the darkness and into the light of day by speaking our truth. So recently, when US congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley, showed up bald in my news feed, I was riveted. And filled with deep admiration. There she was: beautiful, black—and bald.

For the first time she revealed her recent diagnosis of alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that can cause complete hair loss. She said revealing her smooth scalp is a way for her to come to terms with her new truth as she works on becoming comfortable with her new reality. Publicly sharing her story is a part of that journey.

“This is my first official revealing. I’m ready now because I want to be free from the secret, and the shame the secret carries with it.”

And therein lies the power that revelation brings into our lives: “I want to be free from the secret, and the shame the secret carries with it.”

Breaking this silence of secrecy takes courage, but with courageous honesty comes strength and a new-found freedom from shame. Not only is this kind of courageous honesty good for Ayanna or anyone suffering from alopecia, it works for sex addicts and their partners as well. That’s one reason 12-step groups and other kinds of safe, support groups work. They provide a safe place to bring our brokenness and be loved and supported in it.

It’s healing when someone knows us well enough to really see us as we are and love us, anyway. If my friend knows me, and respects me as I do her, we become mirrors for one another. We reflect one another’s value, helping each other see what we may not be able to see for ourselves, especially if we carry shame.

Many millions of us suffer betrayal trauma in silence, afraid that if we share our reality with people already in our lives, we and our husbands will be judged, rebuked, or cast aside like garbage. While a lot of people are not safe to share our secrets with, silent suffering is neither the answer in our individual lives, nor the world at large.

Silence is a strategy of the enemy of our souls and marriages. And when fear shushes us into silence, we wear masks of pretense, never finding safe places to share our reality with others who will care. The silence steals our stories, our healing, our joy, our dreams, our future, and even our life purpose, if we let it.

Breaking our silence within a safe community is the first step in growing individual empowerment. So, I encourage you to find your tribe and become a part of a safe, healthy, understanding group where you can continue to heal and grow. By taking that courageous step you are on your way to finding your voice, speaking your truth, and becoming the strong empowered woman God created you to be.