Actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake has been in front of the camera for four decades now, after she made her acting debut in John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray. When speaking on RuPaul about her appreciation for the film, Lake said, “You know what, it was the role of a lifetime, and it opened every door for me.” It absolutely did! After over 30 years in the business, Lake has broken a lot of barriers, and has undergone a stunning transformation along the way.
Lake may have secured her status as a celeb years ago, but her childhood was far from secure; she recently revealed the painful news in her book Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience, that she was sexually abused as a child. “It happened when I was about 6 or 7, and it went on for a long time,” she confessed. “It was someone who worked around my house — he was a handyman — and it happened when my mother was home. I would be downstairs in my basement, and she’d be upstairs” (via OWN). Lake went on to share that eventually she did tell her mother what was going on, and the man was fired — but it was never talked about again.
Lake didn't want to seem attractive to men
Like many other women in the spotlight, Lake’s weight has often been a topic of discussion. She explained that originally, she started to gain weight after enduring the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. “I think it’s part of why I was overweight a lot of my teenage years and early adult life,” she explained. “I think I didn’t want to be attractive to men” (via OWN).
While her weight gain may have been the result of a traumatic experience, Lake shared that she became famous at a larger size, and was a role model for a lot of girls. “Being fat worked,” she continued. “And I think that was what was confusing for me for a long time in my career.”
While many would claim that having children caused them to gain weight, Lake believes it was the opposite in her case; she explained that having children helped her heal as a victim of sexual abuse — and that in turn helped her shed the extra weight. After having two sons with now ex, Rob Sussman, Lake described how easy it was for her to lose weight. “Well, it definitely didn’t fall off, but it was the easiest time I’d ever tried,” she shared. “I don’t know how to explain it other than it just felt like this purging of that pain and trauma from the past,” (via Today).
Lake has been open about other losses
It’s not just Lake’s weight loss that’s made headlines, as recently she publicly shared she’s dealing with another type of loss. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lake opened up about a difficult personal struggle. “I am finally ready to share my secret,” she revealed. “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.” Lake added that she’d even resorted to wearing wigs, although they just made her feel “super self-conscious and uncomfortable.” Lake also went to multiple doctors looking for answers, and while she had brief improvement, the hair shedding would always return.
These days, Lake can often be found sporting an uber-chic, close cropped do when not wearing wigs or extensions. And while she’s still not completely sure what causes her hair to fall out, Lake does have some theories. “I believe my hair loss was due to many factors, yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions,” she explained. “Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair,” (via OWN).
Lake is an advocate for mental health
Lake certainly has been open about her losses. That’s why we’re not surprised that she talks candidly about another loss many would find uncomfortable to discuss. After losing her second husband, Christian Evans, to suicide in 2017, Lake became an advocate for mental health disorders; she shared that Evans struggled for years with bipolar disorder, and eventually took his own life. “I have to spread the word about recognizing this disorder and getting treatment as soon as possible,” she implored (via Today). “I know in my heart I did everything I could and I know in my heart by sharing my story I’m helping other people,” she shared (via news.com.au).
While Lake has experienced loss of all kinds while in the public eye, these days she seems to be a happy woman. Most recently, she appears to have found love again with the founder of clothing company One Golden Thread, Jeff Scult. Lake claims that he is a “brilliant new love,” and that “he’s making me really happy.” She also said that they found each other courtesy of a mutual friend. We’re so happy for Lake! Fingers crossed her future transformations are themed more around love than loss.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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