SCOTS STAR IS ON A MIS­SION TO HELP OTH­ERS

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SCOTS TV pre­sen­ter Gail Porter ad­mits she some­times misses her hair – but thinks show­ing her bald head could help oth­ers ac­cept con­di­tions like hers. Gail has bat­tled alope­cia, men­tal health and fi­nan­cial prob­lems but has come out smiling. Now, at the age of 46, she says she feels younger than ever. Gail said: “I don’t think I’m get­ting older – I think I’m Peter Pan. In my mind, I’m still 20 to 25. I don’t think about get­ting old. I don’t feel old. I feel young all the time.” In Jan­uary, she re­vealed she had been de­clared bank­rupt and ad­mit­ted that at one point she had been so broke she’d slept on a park bench af­ter los­ing her home. But she has turned her life around and says she is now happy. Gail said: “Every­one goes through loads of dif­fer­ent things – it’s just that mine are in a news­pa­per. “I’ve got a thick skin and I’m a happy per­son. I just don’t have much hair and have the odd prob­lem. But life is pretty good – I have a gor­geous 15-year-old daugh­ter.” Gail says hav­ing daugh­ter Honey with her ex-hus­band, To­ploader gui­tarist Dan Hip­grave, is her big­gest achieve­ment in life. She added: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I get on well with her dad so it’s all good. “She’s great fun and has got a won­der­ful sense of hu­mour. Luck­ily she’s got her dad’s height so she’s taller than me.” Ed­in­burgh-born Gail de­vel­oped alope­cia to­talis in 2005 and lost all her hair. The con­di­tion af­fects one in ev­ery 1000 peo­ple glob­ally. The NHS es­ti­mate about eight mil­lion women in the UK suf­fer from hair loss which can vary in its sever­ity. There is cur­rently no known cure.

Gail de­cided to not cover up her hair loss.

She said: “With my alope­cia, it hap­pened so quickly. Within four weeks I’d lost all my hair. Be­cause it was so sud­den, I just thought, ‘I’m go­ing to take this on the chin.’ I’ve taken ev­ery­thing else on the chin, this is just another thing.

“You’ve still got your heart, you’ve still got your soul. As long as you’re a good per­son it doesn’t mat­ter what you look like, does it?

“I lost my mum to can­cer. She lost her hair for a very dif­fer­ent rea­son so it makes me feel lucky I’ve just lost my hair.”

Gail re­cently posted a pic­ture of her­self on Twit­ter look­ing emo­tional while wear­ing a wig she had been sent.

She said: “It was re­ally odd be­cause when I put it on I en­joyed it for the first few min­utes then sud­denly I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I miss my hair some­times’, so I got a bit teary.

“I’ve never worn it again. I might wear it to an event for fun but I’m so used to see­ing me. My daugh­ter loves me as I am and my friends love me as I am so I don’t think I should do any­thing for any­one else.

“I’m quite happy. Also, it’s re­ally easy [be­ing bald]. My shower takes about two min­utes.”

Gail ad­mits she found it dif­fi­cult los­ing her eye­brows and eye­lashes from the con­di­tion which made her feel as though her face had been “wiped out”.

Med­i­cal tat­tooist Karen Betts got in touch and asked if she wanted to try mi­crob­lad­ing – a per­ma­nent make-up process to give her brows.

Karen is known for her char­ity work, help­ing peo­ple who have been in­volved in ac­ci­dents, ill­nesses or have con­di­tions such as alope­cia.

Gail said: “When I went to get to my eye­brows done with Karen, I was a bit ner­vous. But when my daugh­ter saw them, she was like, ‘Get you with a new face, mum.’ I was, ‘Yeah, check me out.’

“I was chat­ting to some­one yes­ter­day and al­most flicked my non-ex­is­tent hair.

“I was feel­ing re­ally flirty be­cause I now have some eye­brows. They must have thought, ‘Has she got a tic?’

“It’s given me a con­fi­dence boost 100 per cent. When I walked out, I was so think­ing, ‘Where can I go? Who can I go out with?’ But I ended up watch­ing Net­flix with the cat.”

Even though she says the eye­brows have led to her wink­ing at good-look­ing guys in the street and be­ing more flirty, Gail is keep­ing tight-lipped on whether there is any ro­mance in her life.

She says she is very happy. She has just started a new pre­sent­ing job with Vin­tage TV and is writ­ing her sec­ond au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, which is due out next year, af­ter the first was ghost­writ­ten. She is also open about be­ing sec­tioned un­der the men­tal health act in 2011.

Gail said: “I’m not ashamed about any­thing. It’s all part of life and un­for­tu­nately life was a bit tricky for me for a wee while. But I’m quite happy to share if it can help some­one else. I’m not em­bar­rassed – these things hap­pen.”

Gail has been hon­est about sleep­ing rough.

She added: “I’m sure I’ve had worse things hap­pen to me. It’s not the best night of my life but I sur­vived – it was a bit cold.

“It was to­wards Christ­mas time. I didn’t have any credit on my phone and my friends were all away on hol­i­days. Sud­denly I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t got any money to do any­thing’. So I was like, ‘OK, we’ll give the bench a bash.’

“I’ve had the most amaz­ing life and done the most amaz­ing things and there have been ups and downs – you have to just get on with it.”

She is also frank about be­ing de­clared bank­rupt.

Gail said: “I was sec­tioned so I didn’t fill out any tax forms. I don’t owe any money. They as­sumed I was still work­ing but I wasn’t.

“I wasn’t off on some fancy hol­i­day, I was sit­ting in a sec­tion unit and didn’t fill out the forms.

“One of the best things that has come out of hav­ing all these prob­lems is that I’m get­ting to work with loads of kids and peo­ple go­ing through their own is­sues. Just to be there and say, ‘It’s not that bad’ and be sup­port­ive to some­one else makes me very happy.”

She will meet­ing Scot­tish S5 school­girls next week to talk about ca­reer choices as part of a Fu­ture As5et event. First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon will also be speak­ing, about her vi­sion for women go­ing into the world of work.

A photo of Gail’s bare back­side was fa­mously pro­jected onto the Houses of Par­lia­ment in 1999 but she re­vealed she wasn’t paid for the shoot or knew it was go­ing to hap­pen.

She said: “I was young and my bot­tom was pert, so why not? But I didn’t ex­pect to see it on the Houses of Par­lia­ment.

“I’m not the sort of per­son who re­grets things. There’s no point think­ing, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’. It’s hap­pened, deal with it.” ● For in­for­ma­tion on mi­crob­lad­ing, go to karen­betts.co.uk

As long as you’re a good per­son it doesn’t mat­ter what you look like, does it? GAIL PORTER

MUM Gail with her daugh­ter Honey in 2011

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