Katie Piper thought her life was over after a brutal attack, but she tells us about how she has bounced back with a new charity and a friendship with Simon Cowell.
What was the reaction to the first documentary My Beautiful Face which was shown in 2009?
“I got so many letters and emails from survivors of scars and disfigurment who were offering advice, and many from people who needed help. Their support gave me a lot of confidence, and made me realise that I wanted to meet others like me who were just at the start of their journey. It’s been very emotional, and I’ve got such respect for them.”
What sort of people do you meet in the new documentary?
“One of them was Adele, a 19-year-old university student who suffered horrific burns after having an epileptic fit during a hot shower. I related to Adele in that her disfigurement had the potential to affect her future career as a ballerina, as mine ruined my job as a model. She’s a young woman who’s worried about boyfriends, because despite having so much to offer, she’s worried society will make her feel like she’s at the bottom of the pile.”
Do you think her fears about getting a boyfriend are real?
“I’d say don’t believe that all men go on purely what you look like, and that’s what this journey has taught me. It gave me the confidence not to feel panicked about my future, and to realise that people like us can have a normal life.”
Who else will we meet?
“Well, there was Chantelle, an Army wife who suffers from Arteriovenous malformation, a condition that causes disfigurement on her face. While we were making the documentary, her condition became life-threatening and she underwent surgery. Chantelle has had such big medical complications, but she blew me away with her determination.”
How is the charity – the Katie Piper Foundation – doing?
“Great, we are raising money for a UK burn and scar rehabilitation centre and running workshops to help disfigured people gain confidence and practical skills such as camouflage make-up. Plus we have great support from Simon Cowell. When I set the charity up, Simon agreed to be a patron. He genuinely cares about the cause, he’s a good laugh and he’s been very caring and kind towards me.”
How do you feel about yourself now?
“I think confidence is attractive, and I feel confident with who I am now because I’ve become comfortable in my skin. It’s learning to accept yourself and the rest will come.”
*Watch Katie: My Beautiful Friends on C4 on Tuesday, March 22 at 9pm