Ricki Lake Is Speaking Out About Her ‘Maddening’ 30-Year Struggle with Hair Loss

Ricki Lake’s role in Hairspray may have launched her career — but it also came with unintended consequences the actress is only opening up about now. Lake revealed a shaved head and detailed her “maddening” struggle with hair loss on social media on New Year’s Day, breaking decades of silence. Lake says her hair has never been the same since playing Tracy Turnblad, and gets devastatingly real about the pain her hair loss has caused her.

The 51-year-old posted on Instagram and Facebook on January 1 with photos of her shaved head and a long, heartfelt caption about what she’s gone through and why she’s speaking out now. “First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.),” Lake wrote. “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.”

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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. ❤️

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“I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life,” she continued. “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.”

The actress says the problems started after filming Hairspray, but the damage continued long after: “They triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming [Hairspray], my hair was never the same…Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair.”

Rattling off the types of extensions, wigs, and “a total hair system” she’d tried, Lake sounds exhausted: “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.”

So, Lake is coming into 2020 determined to raise awareness around this issue: “I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men,” she wrote. “I am not alone in this and my goal is to help others.”

“This time, I say no more. I have to be set free,” she continued on Facebook. “For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real.”

 

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