Ricki Lake has gone through many transformations in her life. The Jewish mom of two rose to fame as the star of the John Waters’ classic, Hairspray, at age 20. At age 24, she lost 100 pounds and became the youngest talk show host in history.
And now, she’s going through another transformation: She’s living her truth and sharing with candor the long struggle that led her to shave her head.
No, she is not sick, Lake wrote in an Instagram post, but she has been struggling with hair loss for the past three decades. In the post, she admits the struggle has been “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely… There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it.”
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Liberated and Free, Me. First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering. Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years. AND I am finally ready to share my secret. Deep breath Ricki…. Here goes….. I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life. It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things. There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth. I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men. I am not alone in this and my goal is to help others while at the same time unshackle myself from this quiet hell I have been living in. Ever since I played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray back in 1988 and they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming, my hair was never the same. (Yes, that was all my own hair in the film.) From Hairspray to Hairless. 🙁 In my case, I believe my hair loss was due to many factors, yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions. Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair. I got used to wearing extensions, really just over the last decade. All different kinds, tried them all, the ones that are glued on, the tape-ins, the clip ins, and then into a total hair system that I hated, and finally to a unique solution that really did work pretty well for me for the last 4 or 5 years. I tried wigs on a few occasions but never could get used to them. It all felt fake and I was super self-conscious and uncomfortable. I’ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening. To read more: please go to my Facebook page. ❤️
The 51-year-old star wrote that she has been dealing with hair loss since her role as Hairspray‘s iconic Tracy Turnblad, which was released in 1988. As she notes, while shooting the film, her hair was constantly “triple-processed and teased,” which led her “healthy virgin hair” to never be the same. (“From Hairspray to hairless,” she quips.)
Lake — who, with her ex, artist Rob Sussman, has two sons, Owen and Milo, both in their 20s — further attributes her hair loss to “yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions.” The system that did finally work for her involved maintenance every 10 to 12 days, causing her to become a slave to her hair’s demanding maintenance schedule, she writes.
She wrote on Facebook that she’s used hair extensions, wigs, steroid shots, and supplements to help curb her hair loss, but nothing worked.
“After my last extreme diet where I lost 20 lbs in 6 weeks, my hair started shedding again, big time,” Ricki wrote, “this time, I say no more. I have to be set free.”
While the inspiring mama wrote that she may occasionally “choose to wear hair,” but it will be for fun and not in order to hide her hair loss.
Both her Instagram and Facebook posts incredibly moving, but what’s even more heartwarming are the moving responses from others who are dealing with hair loss and posting pictures of their own beautiful, shaved hair.
“This brought tears to my eyes. Almost three years ago I took what I thought was a leap of faith. What I discovered was living out loud as a bald woman was a short step between connecting me with that part of my soul that longed for the peace that simply “being me” longed for,” wrote one commenter.
“Thank you for sharing. I don’t feel alone anymore,” wrote another.
We’re so glad Lake has chosen to be so authentic and to make so many other people feel seen in the process. Go, Ricki! Go, Ricki!
Image via Ricki Lake’s Facebook