Scottish TV personality Gail Porter
is perhaps the best known bald woman in the UK. After losing her hair to an extreme form of Alopecia Areata
in 2003, she became the unofficial poster woman for this type of autoimmune disorder and has bravely spoken openly about her ups and downs with the condition ever since.
Throughout the whole process, which has included experiencing short-lived, sporadic hair regrowth, the 47 year old has steadfastly refused to wear a wig - until now.
Blonde wig revealed
During an August 13th appearance on ITV's flagship daytime chat show, Loose Women, Gail Porter wore a wig for the first time in 15 years. The blonde shade and shoulder length style were reminiscent of her famous 1990's look, when the then model had her naked image projected on to the Houses of Parliament.
When taking to the stage, the audience and panellists let out audible gasps of admiration at Porter's new look, prompting what appeared to be happy tears from the Children's Trust ambassador. She answered the panel's questions regarding how it felt to have hair after being bald for so long, telling them, "It feels really weird, but really nice,"
and admitting she keeps flipping her new hair. "It reminds me of being young - I feel quite young today... when I saw this colour it reminded me of in the 90's and I thought 'I quite like that'
Gail Porter wore her blonde wig down with a piece of the front left hairline styled into a single plait and was roundly complimented on how realistic it looked.
The lace front wig was made especially for her by Hair4All and seemed to fit perfectly and securely, despite Porter having no hair to attach it to; her condition - believed to be Alopecia Universalis
- is the most severe phenotype of autoimmune alopecia and causes complete hair loss
from head to toe. Whilst her condition was initially diagnosed as Alopecia Totalis
, which causes total hairloss from the head, including facial hair such as eyebrows and eyelashes, she mentioned during a stint on the reality TV game show Celebrity Big Brother that she had no hair on her body either, suggesting it had progressed to Universalis.
Continuing in her notoriously candid
vein, Porter wanted to let people know, especially women finding it tough to deal with baldness, that there are viable options - even if treatment isn't currently one of them.
"I love being bald but I just thought it would be great to show people that you can get things as realistic as this. It's people with cancer... people go bald for all different reasons
," she said, acknowledging that she probably wouldn't wear it very much but may branch out, getting more fun coloured ones. "You can put your hair up, I can take mine off!
During her Loose Women interview
, Gail Porter let slip that she still keeps her old hair in a jar at home. This may seem like an odd memento to some but not for the quirky Scot who has bravely battled both hair loss and mental illness in the public eye, whilst keeping her sense of humour.
In June 2018 it was revealed that she had been undergoing counselling
to prepare her for the emotional journey of 'getting her hair back' during a TV appearance, referring to her new wig. The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was allegedly to help her come to terms with losing her hair, dealing with baldness and preparing for the emotions having hair again could bring up.
Therapy is a fantastic option for people with the most severe forms of autoimmune alopecia to increase their self-confidence and help them deal with this sudden onset condition. Treatment options are currently extremely limited and those, such as topical immunotherapy
, are rarely reliable in terms of success rates. The mildest form, which causes patchy hair loss of the scalp only, may benefit from Alopecia Areata treatment
which can be recommended by a hair loss specialist.
New drugs are currently in the late stages of development which it is hoped will be able to regrow hair loss caused by all forms of Alopecia Areata, including Totalis and Universalis. A 2021 release date
has been floated but not confirmed so, for those who hope for treatment, options such as counselling and wigs may help to provide relief in the meantime.