Ricki Lake, the 52-year old former talk show host, reveals her secret battle with baldness. After decades of suffering in silence, she opens up about her condition and how she finally found self-acceptance.
Starring in Hairspray in 1988 brought Lake her first major film role. She starred as Tracey Turnblad and says that’s where her hair issues began. “They triple-processed and teased my then-healthy hair every two weeks. It was never the same”.
Her career path led her to host a talk show in 1993 which had her in a stylist’s chair for hours every day. Following this time in her life, she went on a crash diet to star in the movie Mrs. Winterbourne. Her yo-yo dieting triggered a problem with hair shedding (also known as gen effluvium).
Her hair somewhat recovered until the birth of her son in 1997 followed by her second son in 2001. It was then that she (briefly) stopped taking a shower – “I didn’t want to see the clumps of hair in the drain”. She tried prescription drugs, steroids, and even plasma injections.
At this point, she began to get depressed because “it’s not just your hair, it’s your identity”.
In 2014, she divorced her second husband but they remained close. His suicide – after his being diagnosed with bipolar disorder – left Lake in a deep depression. “I couldn’t get out of bed”, she has said.
In December of 2019, Lake had reached a breaking point. Her first step was to tell her boyfriend. He had never seen her (after two years) without a hairpiece. He responded with unconditional love. While that relationship didn’t last, her newfound strength has. She says, “I’ll never complain about my hair again!”