TSR Politics: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is not just representing her congressional district of Massachusetts but also the 7 million people who live with alopecia in this country.
That’s why the state rep is fighting for Medicare to cover wigs. “[I know what it’s like] to experience a transformation not of your own choosing,” Pressley told Vanity Fair of her living with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
“When you feel like your body is betraying you and you feel less like yourself—that’s already challenging,” Pressley said, but “to be bald as a woman really does disrupt conventional and societal norms of what is appropriate, what is professional, what is attractive, what is feminine,” she said. “It’s so much more than cosmetic…It takes a real toll.”
Ayanna reintroduced a bill Thursday, along with her fellow Massachusetts Rep. James McGovern, on the last day of Alopecia Awareness Month, to pay for wigs for those experiencing hair loss due to medical treatments or disease, The Root reports.
Ayanna says that many people living with alopecia–which has no known cause or cure–seek out medical wigs to address their hair loss. But medical wigs are not usually a low cost option for people living on fixed incomes, according to Ayanna.
“Doctors have told me that patients have refused lifesaving cancer treatments because they were afraid they were going to lose their hair and didn’t know how to deal with it,” McGovern said.
McGovern speaks from his own personal experience, which is why the issue is also close to his heart.
McGovern’s 20-year-old daughter, who has a rare cancer diagnosis, has also dealt with hair loss.
“The thing she’s most worried about is having to go through chemotherapy,” he said. “Losing your hair at 20—that’s really kind of a traumatic thing.”
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