SCOTS STAR IS ON A MISSION TO HELP OTHERS
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