WASHINGTON — Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., posted and then deleted tweets Sunday night that seemed to defend actor Will Smith for slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars.
Screenshots of the tweets were published by several news outlets, and neither member of Congress offered a follow-up explanation for why they deleted them.
"#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith,” tweeted Pressley. “Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults.”
Pressley added, “Women with baldies are for real men only…boys need not apply."
The lawmaker publicly revealed in Jan. 2020 that she has alopecia areata, a condition that results in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere. Her tweet Sunday included a photo of her bald with her husband.
A reporter also captured what Bowman tweeted and then deleted, which said, "Teachable Moment: Don't joke about a Black Woman's hair."
The tweets came after Smith slapped Rock at the 94th Academy Awards Sunday night after the comedian joked about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who revealed her alopecia diagnosis in 2018.
Smith walked up on stage from the audience at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and hit Rock, and then the sound cut out on the U.S. broadcast. After returning to his seat, Smith responded to Rock's comment on the assault, appearing to shout an obscenity in telling the comedian not to speak about his wife. Smith apologized to Rock on Monday.
When reached for comment on Pressley's deleted tweet, a spokesperson for the lawmaker pointed to a series of tweets Monday from the Massachusetts Democrat.
"My life’s work has always been about trauma & healing," Pressley wrote in one tweet. "I’m a survivor — I don’t endorse violence in any form."
"Our bodies are not public domain. They are not a line in a joke—especially when the transformation is not of our choosing," she added in another tweet. "I’m a survivor of violence. I’m a proud Alopecian. The psychological toll we carry daily is real. Team Jada always. That’s that on that."
A request for comment from Bowman's office was not immediately returned.