By NICOLE PELLETIER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Ricki Lake said she feels the best she’s ever have one year after revealing a 30-year battle with hair loss.
The former talk show host and actress appeared live on Good Morning America Wednesday, sporting a new look.
“It was such a right of passage last year taking the leap of faith to shave my head, and my hair, thankfully, has grown back,” Lake said. “And I learned so much through the process of really letting go of something that had been really bothering me for decades.”
On Jan. 3, 2020, Lake opened up to Robin Roberts about the hair loss condition she was experiencing in secret, which she described as “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, [and] lonely.” It was the first time she ever discussed it publicly.
Lake, who took third place in the 13th season of Dancing With the Stars, explained on Facebook that when she starred in Hairspray in 1988, her hair was damaged to the point of no return.
Lake had also blamed her career as a public figure, hormones, crash dieting, weight fluctuations and genetics for the hair loss.
She said she tried a hair treatment and wore hair extensions as remedies.
“I’ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some,” Lake wrote on Facebook. “My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening.”
Lake said sharing her situation was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do, recently opening up to People magazine about how difficult it was.
“There’s things in life where you keep them as a secret,” she said on GMA. “I was molested as a child. I kept it quiet for many, many years and once you admit that it happened to you, the secret doesn’t feel like this weight on your shoulders. And for me, it’s been such a beautiful gift to be able to come clean with something that I was so ashamed of.”
Lake said the COVID-19 pandemic made her realize the hair loss was no longer an issue.
“I’ve come to embrace not only my hair that has grown back, but also the color,” the 52-year-old said of her silvery locks. “This is my natural color and as a society as women, we’re not supposed to embrace aging.”
Lake’s advice to others experiencing hair loss is internal self love.
“I really, really love myself even more for being courageous during that dark time,” Lake added.
Lake said she’s considered writing a book about her “liberating” hair loss journey. She said there was an outpouring of support after she shared her story in 2020.
“Countless people have come to me wanting to applaud me and also say, ‘Where did you find the courage?'” Lake said. “And if I can help one woman by sharing my story, it’s worth it.”
On Wednesday, Lake also revealed that she found love amid the pandemic.
“It’s all a miracle. My hair is back and I found love during COVID,” she said. “That is my beautiful partner, Ross, and he is amazing. I met him, I was on a COVID walk, I ran into an acquaintance. He said, ‘Are you single?’ I said, ‘Yes’ and I am so happy.”
In 2017, Lake’s husband, Christian Evans, took his own life. At the time, Lake released a statement on Instagram following the news of his death, saying that Evans had been battling bipolar disorder for years.
“Most people who have been following my story know I lost my husband to mental illness and suicide almost four years ago and I never, ever thought I’d find true love again and I consider myself a very lucky woman,” she said.
If you are in crisis or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada) and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.
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