Yesterday I talked about two programmes I watched this week that moved me, and the second was about a girl called Katie Piper.
The series is called “Katie: My Beautiful Friends” and details Katie’s journey as she starts the Katie Piper Foundation, a charity with Simon Cowell as the ambassador which is designed to help people with disfigurements feel accepted in the world.
This is a story I have followed right from the beginning, when I saw it in the news as Katie was my age when the attack happened, and I remember thinking that it could have been me, my sister or one of my friends as easily as it was her. Katie Piper was a twenty three year old girl who had a flourishing career as a model, and went about life doing exactly what a twenty something girl does. She ended a relationship of a few weeks and the man became aggressive and intimidating; he called her and asked to see her, so she agreed. He asked her to walk from her flat to a cafe, where they would meet. As she walked along a man carrying a cup of acid threw it in her face. He was a homeless man, paid by the vengeful ex to try to kill her.
Katie survived the attack, but it burnt her face, her neck and the inside of her throat as she had her mouth open. She now has no vision in one eye and has had to have a multitude of skin grafts and operations to get her to where she is today, not to mention having to wear a pressure mask to calm the scars for eighteen months. She regularly has operations to extend the skin on her eyelids so she can close them and doesn’t get further complications, and has problems with her throat and the moisture levels in her skin.
Despite this horrendous act she has built her life back and now has a totally different outlook on life. I watched the whole series on the iplayer and it told of her looking for ambassadors for the charity; people who had gone through adversity in similar ways to get to where they were today.
What struck me was the unacceptable attitudes of other people. One girl had a condition that had caused her bones in her face to fuse, sinking her eye sockets. She had gone shopping and a woman had stared at her, and when her mother asked her not to the woman simply replied that she shouldn’t have come out if she didn’t want people to look.
It really bothered me, and last night I spent a lot of time thinking about how cruel we are as a race, and how we forget that people are humans, no matter how we look. What is conventional is not necessarily normal, and for a woman to be told that her child is a freak because he has a condition that causes tumours to grow on his face is in no way acceptable. These people are ignorant and don’t think about how their words, thrown without thinking, could affect that person for the rest of their life. When they stare, or call names, do they think of how emotionally difficult it is for that person to leave the house in the first place; that they don’t know that the way they look will spark peoples interest, and how going to the shops isn’t something thoughtless, like it is for us.
I would actually go as far as to say I was disgusted by my fellow humans, yet these people do not judge or hold any anger against their bullies, but they simply accept and get on with it.
And Katie Piper is the most outstanding woman. She is beautiful, driven and compassionate, and through a terrible thing that has happened to her she is affecting the lives of people who don’t have someone to stand up and speak out for them. I just wish that there were more people in the world like her, and that she didn’t have to go through something as horrendous to be able to make such a change in these peoples lives.