Your hair is a big deal; it’s a part of your identity. For black women, whose entire bodies are racialised, this is heightened.
Black hair has become a symbol of the struggle for racial equality, via natural hair movements and wearing traditionally black hairstyles that push back against narratives of “good vs bad hair”.
This is something Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman for Massachusetts, USA, knows well.
For much of her public political career, she wore her hair in a signature protective style – Senegalese Twists – as a statement of her identity as a black woman, and her politics.
Which is why when she revealed three weeks ago that she was now totally bald due to alopecia, a hair-loss condition, it was a big, brave deal.
“My twists had 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,” Pressley told website The Root, revealing her new look for the first time.
“That’s why I think it’s important that I’m transparent about this new normal, and living with alopecia”.
At the time she received an outpouring of support, including from fellow Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) and Ilhan Omar.
But since the reveal, Pressley’s been targeted by trolls (a prominent black figure in politics becoming a beacon for hate? Colour me shocked).
They’ve called her names like “Mr Clean” (a bald brand mascot for Proctor and Gamble who sort of resembles a member of Right Said Fred and would be really at home in an achingly cool Leeds rave, so I’m not sure where the insult is there).
So Pressley clapped back, of course, by tweeting a picture of her bald head.
“Dear Trolls. You really think I look like “Mr. Clean”?” she wrote.
“Please. He never looked THIS clean. Sorry, not sorry my unapologetically rockin’ my crown triggers you. Proud”
And of course, the internet agreed.
AOC was one of the first to celebrate Pressley’s pic, comparing her trolls to another famous brand mascot.
Others applauded Pressley’s openness about the condition.
Even those on the other side of the political divide lent their support.
Do your worst trolls but you simply cannot argue with that sort of bone structure. Sorry!