Ricki Lake opens up about 'debilitating' hair loss and her journey to self acceptance

"No woman as far as I knew had ever gone public about female baldness"

Ricki Lake backstage at the "X Factor Celebrity " Final at LH2 Studios on November 30, 2019 in London, England
(Image credit: Jeff Spicer / Stringer via Getty Images)

After shaving off her hair a year ago, Ricki Lake has opened up about her hair loss journey in a refreshingly honest new interview. 

"I went back and forth about coming forward last year," she told PEOPLE exclusively. It's such a shameful thing.

"I was afraid of coming out [as bald]. Because no woman as far as I knew had ever gone public about female baldness."

As for what caused Ricki Lake to lose her hair, the presenter previously explained that she first noticed a difference after starring in Hairspray back in 1988. While filming, her hair was "triple processed" every two weeks, as well as being teased into the iconic Tracy Turnblad hairstyle.

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In the three decades that followed, she had numerous episodes of excessive hair shedding and tried every method under the sun to prevent the hair loss – eventually resorting to hair pieces and extensions.

After shaving her head, she posted her new look to Instagram on New Year's Day 2020. "It wasn't a calculated move," she explained. "I just needed to be set free from this silent suffering."

"I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life," the post read. "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."

She then went on to explain that her hair was "never the same" after filming Hairspray. "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." You can read the original post in full below.

Thankfully the star is much more confident these days. "It's about inner beauty, self-confidence and self-love," she said of her journey. "I truly appreciate what I see in the mirror now."

We applaud Ricki for her honesty and openness on what is a tough subject for so many, and hope this encourages others to open up. We're sure you'll agree, she looks fabulous!

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 in the USA. If you need someone to talk to in the UK, call Samaritans on 116 123.

Lucy Abbersteen

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for titles including Marie Claire, Glamour and OK!, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare advice to beauty trends and reviews of the latest products. During her career she regularly speaks to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists, has covered backstage at London Fashion Week and interviewed many a celeb about their beauty routine.