Ricki Lake shared a picture of herself with a buzz cut as she revealed she has been struggling with hair loss for years and that at times it has made her feel suicidal.
The former talk show host said her hair was never the same after being “triple-processed and teased” every couple of weeks when she played Tracy in Hairspray in 1988.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, she said it had been “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely”, but that she had tried everything and it was time to be “set free” from her maintenance regime.
Lake, 51, told her fans: “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.”
Lake – who was recently a contestant on The X Factor: Celebrity – continued: “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.”
The star said she thought her hair loss was due to many factors, including yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, pregnancies, genetics, stress, hair dyes and extensions, and her work.
She said she has used various types of extensions and wigs but that “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, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening.
“So of late, after 2 months of bliss ‘working’ in London and after my last extreme diet where I lost 20 lbs in 6 weeks, my hair started shedding again, big time.
“This time, I say no more. I have to be set free.
“Free of the maintenance every 10-12 days, where my added hair would need to be tightened (sometimes painfully) and my gray hair would need to be colored. I felt like I was a slave to this maintenance schedule.
“I wouldn’t go out of town longer than 12 days, because of this. I even brought my hair fairy and dear friend, to London during my stint there to do what she needed to do to keep it on my head.”
Debuting her new look, she said: “I buzzed my hair off and it feels so good!”
Describing it as a “pivotal moment”, Lake said: “I am liberated. I am free.
“I am releasing and letting go. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am love.”
“For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real,” she said.
“I will on occasion choose to wear hair, but now it is for fun, not because I am hiding anything. I am so done with hiding.”
With reporting by Press Association.