Ricki Lake, 53 (and a half)

Being a long-time fan takes on new meaning when a celebrity has been around for more than a minute. Ricki had us at Hairspray. But then she grew with us, opened our minds to new ideas, and even grieved with us. And here we are! Upon the opening of her new documentary "The Business of Birth Control," she gave us the good, the better and the beautiful about getting older.

By Didi Gluck
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Describe yourself in five adjectives

Resilient, bad-ass, authentic, loyal and fun as hell.

Did you ever feel conflicted about aging? Do you still?

Sure. I think it’s inevitable, right? I always spin things in my head. What’s the alternative? It’s been a process. It’s complex. I can say today, I just turned 53-and-a-half and I’m the most content, the happiest, and the best me I’ve ever been. It comes from what I’ve been through. Hair loss is a huge piece of where I am now in terms of self-acceptance and self-love. I wish I could’ve gotten here earlier. 

I’m 53 ½ are you fucking kidding me? How is that possible? I’m famous since I’m 18 and did Hairspray. So much wisdom comes from getting older. I wouldn’t turn back the clock. I just got married. I am stoked for the time ahead of me. I welcome it. I’m not someone who hides my age. I’ve earned every gray hair.  

What’s getting better with age?

I feel like I’m in my sexual prime. I’m having the best sex of my life with my beautiful partner. He has been sent from the heavens. I like to think that my last husband, who passed away from mental illness and suicide, hand-picked him for me. No one can prove me otherwise! He’s from a totally different world. We’re both empty-nesters. We’re literally like kids. I had my kids young. I did all the right things for them. Now it’s me time.

You look at what’s going on in the world and it’s like Armageddon, but my bubble is a place of bliss. I’m so grateful for how far I’ve come.

I’m a daily cannabis user. I was not a user. In fact, I was pretty judgmental about it. Back on my show, I was like a disciple of Nancy Raegan. I was so closed minded, now I go to Burning Man, I’m a burner!!

What’s not getting better with age?

I’m still responsible for a lot of people. I wish I didn’t have that on my back sometimes, but it’s a first-world problem. And I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

What are the biggest health changes you’ve made in the last 10 years?

I eat to live more than I live to eat these days, but trust me I eat. I’m with a guy who loves to eat. I exercise  to feel good rather than to look a certain way. I take good care of myself. Working on staying present is something I really focus on. And my life is about fun. I do work, but I’m just about enjoying this time.

I’m not someone who hides my age. I’ve earned every gray hair.

Ricki Lake

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You've been very open about suffering from hair loss. Can you share a bit about your story?

I’ve been dealing with genetic hair loss for decades. My earliest memory of it is completely traumatizing. I did the movie Mrs. Winterbourne in 1996 and they put me on a crash diet.  Like 35 pounds in a short amount of time. My body reacts really quickly. I can lose or gain weight really quickly. Three months after I lost the weight, I saw significant shedding. It did reverse itself, but then I had my first kid. Three months later, my hair shed. It would create havoc inside of me. I was super sensitive to the shedding. It was my dark secret. 

I switched to a hairpiece system about seven and a half years ago. I got it tightened every 10 days. It was working. Then, two and a half years ago, my hair started getting finer and finer. I was also coloring it every two weeks.  I had a moment of, 'I'm gonna shave my head and set myself free.' I had just come back from London, and I hadn’t seen my scalp for five years!! So, at the end of 2019, the day before 2020, I shaved my head in front of a few friends.  I was resolved to rocking a bald head. 

After I became public about it, I connected with the founder and lead researcher of Harklinikken, Lars Skjoth, through some weird serendipity. I had tried spirolactone, Propecia,  PRP, Rogaine, Viviscal … everything you could try, so I didn't believe his line could help me. But I had nothing to lose. And now look. This is my hair. It is a non-issue. Every year for 20 years, I blew out my birthday candles and my wish was always to be at peace with my hair. And I finally am. 

What’s your best piece of advice to other women facing hair loss/thinning?

They should see if they’re a candidate for the Extract.  The hair assessment on the site is  free. It’s virtual. And it’s been a game changer for me. 

You are so gloriously centered...it's really admirable

There are days I'm not. I’ve been in deep therapy for years, since way back when when I started my talk show. But I've gotten here through my own constant hard work.

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