It’s been over a decade since the horrific acid attack by an ex-boyfriend, but Katie Piper hasn’t let it define her. Laura Hamilton caught up with the philanthropist about bringing up her daughters, confidence, and who inspires her.
Several invasive operations later, including a full face skin graft to grow back all the skin on her face, Katie is thriving, happy and successful. “Confidence is about empowerment,” she says. “It’s about valuing who you are, and only you can control that. It’s about finding the courage to live the life you want, the way you want. My best advice would be not to look for happiness in other people, but to find it in yourself.”
It’s not as easy as flicking a light switch, however. “It’s definitely an ongoing thing,” Katie says. “Everyone has insecurities and my life is in the public eye so I appreciate I am exposed to criticism. I just try to take my own advice and stay positive! I stopped giving myself a hard time for not being perfect and that helped me more than I can say. I still have therapy now: I think that’s a healthy thing.”
One piece of advice that stuck with Katie was from her surgeon: “I have an amazing surgeon who told me that worrying was the biggest waste of time. All worrying does is steal your joy and you waste a lot of time doing absolutely nothing at all. It’s so simple, but it’s true and I try not to waste my emotions on it.”
Family is incredibly important to Katie, who calls her mother her rock. “I am really fortunate to have amazing family around me giving me unconditional love and support,” she says. Katie was initially concerned about her chances of being a mother as the medication she was on while recovering could have a ected her fertility, but she now has two daughters, four-year-old Belle and one-year-old Penelope with her husband.
As well as her busy career, charity work, Katie is also dedicated to her two daughters. “There are so many things I want to teach my girls as they grow up – about life, relationships, what it means to be a woman in the modern world of social media and peer pressure,” she says.“Naturally, as a mother, there is a lot I want to protect them from, but ultimately they need to live their lives – I just want my children to know that they are safe and that they are loved.”
Although her children are still young, her eldest has begun to notice that her mother’s skin is scarred. In a world where anxiety about our appearance is at an all-time high, Katie is leading by example and showing that confidence comes from the inside.
ONE WOMAN SHOW
Ever since Katie took the decision to cast off her anonymity and capture her recovery journey in the Channel 4 documentary My Beautiful Face in 2009, she has been incredibly busy. “I wasn’t able to work for a very long time after my attack, so that drives me to work hard and I really value being healthy enough to be busy every day,” she notes. She’s a charity campaigner and philanthropist, and set up the Katie Piper Foundation
which seeks to create a world where scars don’t limit a person’s future. The thirty-four-year- old has written several books, been in documentaries and presented tv shows.
Helping others is Katie’s MO. She has recently written a book with her mum, who is currently battling cancer, with coping strategies and personal anecdotes as well as advice on confidence and anxiety.
“I’ve always been pretty driven in everything I do,” says Katie. “I moved to London when I was 20 to pursue a career in modelling, and although it has been a journey and my career has moved on, I have always managed to find the motivation through positive thinking to keep driving forward in both my career and personal life.”
Katie has always been a powerhouse of ambition, and recently took to the stage in a one woman show called Katie Piper: What’s in My Head – her theatrical debut.
“I really wanted to put my experiences into context and talk openly with an audience sharing my own strategies and mechanisms to hopefully help others. It’s also a wonderful chance for me to connect with people on a much more personal level. My hope is that I can help and inspire people the way I have been by other motivational speakers,” says Katie.