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Women’s Hair Loss, Ricki Lake, and Changing the Conversation about Women’s Hair

by Marianne Navada

Ricki Lake started the new year sharing an image of herself with a buzz cut, revealing her 30-year struggle with hair loss. It’s a condition that she confesses has been: “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely” and at times left her feeling “suicidal”.

Although it’s unclear what caused her hair loss, she speculates it’s the “yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, pregnancies, genetics, stress, hair dyes and extensions, and her various TV and stage jobs, which required her to go through intense hair processing.

Lake starts off her confession by showing gratitude: “First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.)”.

And it’s understandable to start off her reveal as such. Cosmetic, non-life threatening disorders seem trivial compared to someone going through treatment for cancer, as the reason for hair loss. But our hair is an important part of how the world sees us. And cases such as hair loss, gray hair, can be sources of anxiety. Hair says something about our age, health, and personality.

In an era that is starting to embrace body positivity, we still have a long way to ease judgement on hair. Whether it’s coloring gray hair, going through hair growth treatments, hair extensions, or wearing hats and wigs, we cover up the changes hair goes through.

Lake’s reveal is also a reminder that certain hair products that are supposed to make us look good might not be kind to our hair. And that a balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can help keep a healthy head of hair.

The More You Know

1/3 of women experience hair loss (alopecia) at some point in their lives. For postmenopausal women, as many as 2/3 suffer hair thinning or bald spots. 

Hair loss for women is socially less acceptable than for men. 

Harvard Health

The hair industry is expected to grow from $69 billion in 2016 to $87 billion in 2023.

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