In a recent interview, TV presenter Gail Porter spoke candidly about her battle with depression, coping with the breakdown of her marriage, and her difficulties living with Alopecia, a hair loss condition that has left her famously bald. Despite these hardships, the effervescent 43 year old - now an in-demand voice-over artist - has bounced back and is set to embark on some exciting new professional projects in the coming year.
The former men’s magazine favourite was renowned for her good looks - including her long, flowing locks. In 1999, FHM projected an image of her bare bottom onto the Houses of Parliament as part of promotions for their poll of the 100 sexiest women in the world.
The breakdown of her marriage to musician, Dan Hipgrave left Scottish-born Porter devastated. The stress triggered her to develop Alopecia Totalis back in 2005, causing her to lose all her scalp hair. This then progressed to Alopecia Universalis prompting her eyebrows and eyelashes to fall out, dealing a further blow to the TV star who recalls, “Losing my eyebrows and eyelashes was pretty upsetting I felt I looked strange, like someone had just rubbed me out”.
In an industry notorious for its superficiality, Gail has been uniquely brave in refusing to hide her baldness, reportedly turning down television job offers that required her to wear a wig.
But her refusal to conceal her condition has come at a price; she admitted during the interview that she has been the target of countless cruel taunts because of her hair loss condition.
She said: “I get a few people being rude about what I look like.
“Usually drunk people or someone shouting ‘baldy’ because they think it’s really funny and couldn’t come up with anything wittier.
“I have to say, ‘That’s amazing. I’d never have come up with that one.’
“But most people are great. Children point a lot. This little girl said to me the other day, ‘It’s all gone’ then asked ‘Lady?’ and I had to say, ‘Yes I’m definitely a lady’.”
Gail’s courage has done much to increase awareness of Alopecia, an auto-immune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system wrongly attacks the body’s hair-producing follicles, causing existing hair to fall out and prohibiting new hair from growing.
The exact cause of the condition is still unknown, but it is thought to be triggered by shock, stress, local injury or even bacterial infection. In some cases, Alopecia is treatable, although the more advanced conditions of Alopecia Totalis (where all the hair on the scalp is lost) and Alopecia Universalis (which affects the hair all over the body) are more difficult to treat. In some cases, the hair starts to grow back of its own accord, whereas other cases may require professional assistance. Anyone worried about Alopecia should seek a consultation with a hair loss expert to discuss their options for treatment.
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