"It is a new year and new decade and a new me." So said Ricki Lake in New Year's Day Instagram and Facebook posts showing off her new hairdo: a buzz cut that, she says, left her "liberated and free." No, the 51-year-old actress didn't just feel like a change. As she reveals in the post, she's been struggling in silence for three decades with hair loss. "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," she writes, adding that there are a variety of factors that could be to blame: "yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions. Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair."
The result? She tried all types of hair extensions, a total hair solution, and wigs; she also saw doctors, took supplements, and got steroid shots. She ended up feeling like a "slave" to a maintenance routine that needed to happen every 10 to 12 days, refusing to go out of town longer than that and bringing along her "hair fairy" when she traveled. She finally got sick of it, and when her hair most recently started shedding again, she buzzed it all off: "It feels so good!" She writes that almost no one in her life, including her therapists, knew the "deep pain and trauma" the hair loss caused her. "It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely," she writes. "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." (Read more Ricki Lake stories.)