'I want to be real': Ricki Lake debuts shaved head after years of struggling with 'debilitating' hair loss

Elizabeth Di Filippo
Ricki Lake (Images Getty Images/Amy Sussman) and Facebook (Photo by Amanda Demme).
Ricki Lake (Images Getty Images/Amy Sussman) and Facebook (Photo by Amanda Demme).

Ricki Lake has opened up about about her private struggle with hair loss in a candid post to social media.

The 51-year-old actress and producer rang in the New Year feeling “liberated and free” after debuting a shaved head. In a lengthy post on Facebook, Lake detailed her nearly 30-year history of hair loss, in hopes that her story will help those who suffer in silence feel less alone.

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“I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life,” Lake wrote. “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 therapists over the years knew my truth.”

Lake, who landed her first role in the 1988 film “Hairspray” by director John Waters, says her journey from “Hairspray to hairless” was likely caused by years of yo-yo-dieting, taking birth control, pregnancy, genetics and stress. The former “Ricki Lake Show” host relied on hair extensions and wigs to mask her hair loss.

(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

“It all felt fake and I was super self-conscious and uncomfortable,” she said. “I’ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, [have taken] all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening.”

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Lake is not alone in her struggle with female hair loss. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, 40 per cent of women will experience thinning hair and hair loss by the age of 50. In the United States, approximately 30 million women experience noticeable hair loss including female pattern baldness and different forms of alopecia.

Ricki Lake. Image via Facebook/MsRickiLake. Photo by Amanda Demme.
Ricki Lake. Image via Facebook/MsRickiLake. Photo by Amanda Demme.

While most female hair loss occurs over the age of 40, women of any age can notice an increase of shedding and thinning hair. Genetics, tight or frequent hair styling, extreme stress, hormonal changes, chemotherapy and some medications all contribute to female hair loss.

An “extreme diet” that resulted in a rapid weight loss of 20 pounds in six weeks lead to a noticeable increase in hair loss, prompting Lake to take control of the situation and “set herself free.” She decided to forego hair extensions and hair colour, and shave her head.

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“It is a New Year and a new decade and a new me...I buzzed my hair off and it feels so good!” she wrote, giving thanks to her friends and partner Jeff Scult for their support.

(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)

While she notes that she will continue to play with hair “for fun,” any changes to her look in the future will be done by choice, and not out of shame.

“I am liberated. I am free. I am releasing and letting go. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am love,” Lake told followers. “For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real.”

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