Black Hair Matters: The Affirmative Power of Politicians Like Ayanna Pressley and Stacey Abrams

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December 3, 2018 

When Ayanna Pressley got her Senegalese twists done for the first time about three years ago, it was a moment of affirmation and recognition.

“I just really loved it,” she told The Glow Up. “I felt my most authentic and powerful self.”

Speaking over the phone this past September, Pressley explained that when she was on Boston’s city council before her history-making run for Congress, she wore her hair in all manner of styles, including extensions, flat ironed, and occasionally rocking wigs. “I’ve done everything,” she said.

“I’ve been in electoral politics and in government for such a long time, It’s only recently that I’ve been a little bit edgier in my dress. But by and large, I’ve been a very conservative, traditional person in my attire,” she said. “So where I sort of mix it up is how I [wear] my hair.”

According to Pressley, this has resonated with a number of black women across the country who tell her they’ve never seen a politician on her level—in the national spotlight, and looked at as the future of the party—with their hair in braids. Historically, no matter how progressive a woman’s politics are, working as a public servant means adhering to very conservative dress and styling. (Just last year, Congress took some heat for its ban on sleeveless dresses.) For black women politicians in particular, this heightened attention to appearance means limited choices—and outsized scrutiny—when it comes to how they wear their hair. Visit www.theroot.com to read the full article. 

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