Katie – My Beautiful Friends Review: Living With Disfigurement

KATIE – MY BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS: Tuesday 22nd March, C4, 9pm

Most of you will remember the story of Katie Piper, the model who suffered terrible injuries after her ex-boyfriend arranged to have acid thrown in her face. Last year she starred in a programme called Katie: My Beautiful Face, and now she’s back with a follow-up series that looks at her new project the Katie Piper Foundation, and how she hopes to help other people learn to live with disfigurement. It provides an uncomfortably penetrating look at the people who have to live with life-changing conditions, those that support them and how it affects their lives. Difficult, but important, viewing.

The first person we meet is Adele. Adele is a dancer and performer who has had to live with disfigurement since she was 15 as a result of having an epileptic fit in the shower, during which she knocked the hot tap on full and it scalded the skin right off her. Consequently she has extensive scars to her left arm, side, back and neck. At the time the family didn’t know she was epileptic, and so even when her mum heard strange noises whilst in a different room, she thought it could have been the dog and didn’t investigate straight away; a fact which clearly still upsets her greatly.

Adele has not let her scars deter her in her career path and has just landed a part in a play in Edinburgh, but confesses that she’s never had a boyfriend and worries about whether she’ll ever be able to get married. “I don’t want to be able to cope with who I am,â€? she says. “I want to like who I am.â€? Puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

The next girl Katie meets is Chantelle, who has had to live with Arteriovenuous Malformation (AVM) in her nose all her life. This condition not only causes disfigurement, but is also life-threatening and so Chantelle has spent a lot of time in the hospital, including much of the 3 years that she’s been married to husband Bret. Doctors have tried 3 times to stop the AVM, and the longer that it survives the more of her face it will take over. Added to this, Chantelle tells Katie that some drunken idiot attacked her just a few days before, shouting horrible things and punching her in the nose causing it to bleed and requiring an ambulance to be called. This has, understandably, hardly helped her low self-confidence and anxiety about going out in public.

All the way through this programme it’s been easy to forget that Katie, as the host and interviewer, is also struggling with her own problems, and when she gets a phone call telling her that her ex-boyfriend is lodging a third appeal against his sentence, it’s strange to see her looking so shaken.

The remainder of the programme sees Katie and Chantelle go under the knife with different results and a glimpse of the next episode that, would you believe it, seems to involve Simon Cowell. The man gets everywhere.