In early 2023, actress and television host Ricki Lake opened up about her androgenetic alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss and is typically more common among men than women. After dealing with it privately for nearly three decades, Lake has finally come to embrace life with alopecia and explained her journey in an Instagram post that showed her shaving her own head. She later shared an even more revealing photo of just how far she’s come in her quest for self-acceptance.
Hairspray! may have been a cause for the condition
Ricki Lake was cast as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film Hairspray! which required her to transform into a 1960s teenager. With that came a triple-processing hair treatment in order to achieve the look. Lake was just 19 years old when she was cast in the iconic John Waters film. She partly blames those hair treatments for causing her to develop the condition at 26 years old.
She also cites other factors, including diet, hormonal birth control, weight fluctuations, pregnancies, genetics, and prolonged stress. Discussing how she felt when she first discovered the hair loss, she said, “I freaked out. It was traumatizing to see the clumps of hair come out in the shower on or on the pillow, or on my shoulder.”
Lake kept her struggle with alopecia to herself for almost 30 years, recently explaining that no one in her life truly knew of her “deep pain and trauma.” The reason she kept it private was that she’d never seen any women “going public about female baldness.”
“It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things,” Lake previously wrote. When she finally opened up about the condition in 2020, she disclosed that it had caused her to feel despondent on more than one occasion.
Lake shaved her head back in 2019
— Yahoo Entertainment (@YahooEnt) January 2, 2020
In 2019, Lake made the “drastic decision” to shave her head as a means of coping with her alopecia and posted a video on Instagram of her following through with it. In the video, she’s seen buzzing off her own hair while an unknown person guides her hand with the razor. Also in the video, Lake is seen clutching a clump of the hair she cut off, holding it to her chest.
Lake posted that video on January 1, 2023, to look back on the liberating decision she’d made that day. The caption to the video read, “3 years ago today, on the afternoon of New Year’s eve day 2019, I took a brave… leap of faith and chose to make the drastic decision to shave my head after years and years of struggling in secret w/ my androgenic hair loss.”
The caption continued with Lake explaining, “I have never shared this raw video footage before but felt like i wanted to now, for those of you who have followed my story and have been invested in it. Some of you know my struggle all too well personally and I want you to know, I truly feel you.”
She has come to embrace her alopecia
After struggling with the condition privately for so long, Lake has more recently come to accept her androgenetic alopecia. It took a while, but she’s finally in “a place of peace, liberation, and most importantly, self-love and self-acceptance.” Discussing her new outlook on life with alopecia, she said, “It’s about inner beauty, self-confidence and self-love. I truly appreciate what I see in the mirror now.”
The video’s caption concluded with her writing, “I can honestly say I appreciate and love my natural gray and sometimes wild unruly head of hair. May all of you struggling with whatever also come to a place of peace and acceptance. Life is too damn short.”
The ultimate expression of self-love
On May 5, 2023, Ricki Lake shared a heartfelt – and revealing – message on Instagram that captured both her emotions and her physical self. The former talk show host fearlessly posted a photograph of herself immersed in a bathtub outdoors, basking in the sun. Keeping her modesty, Lake embraced herself in a loving embrace with her arms covering her chest.
“Hands down, these days are the best of my life,” she wrote. “54 1/2 years old (young!) Grateful for all that had to happen for me to get to here. A place of complete self-acceptance and self love.”