Celebrity interview: Katie Piper

Katie Piper.
Katie Piper.
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After giving birth to daughter Belle last March, presenter and charity campaigner Katie Piper was looking forward to a productive maternity leave.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’ll catch up with all my emails, I’ll make a few photo albums, probably give myself a pedicure, sort out my clothes drawer,” the 31-year-old says with a smile.

“Then when I had her it was like, ‘No, you can’t do anything!’ It really opened my eyes to how being a mum is a full-time job.”

Belle is sleeping through the night now, and Piper – who recently got engaged to carpenter boyfriend James – is back to TV presenting duties, looking glamorous in monochrome and stilettos, as she promotes her current show (“I was thinking about bringing Belle with me today, but she’s quite active now,” she reveals).

It’s almost seven years since the former aspiring model was left severely scarred and in need of numerous operations after a horrific acid attack, organised by a man who’d previously assaulted her in a hotel room.

Piper bravely shared her story in the Bafta-nominated documentary, Katie Piper: My Beautiful Face in 2009, and in the same year, set up The Katie Piper Foundation to help others living with burns and scars.

She’s appeared in various programmes since then, penned several books and can currently be seen on screen in the second series of Bodyshockers, the Channel 4 series exploring the craze for body modification.

In the latest instalment – Nips, Tucks And Tattoos – she meets people who regret their procedures, and introduces them to others considering similar changes.

“When we came to film a second series, I thought, ‘Well, surely we’ve covered everything’, but people came pouring in, because it’s becoming mainstream,” she says. “You can go into a shop and be served by someone with [tattoo] sleeves, and wouldn’t think that’s very alternative. People are pushing the boundaries – tattooing the eyeballs, inside the lip.

“In the Eighties and Nineties, we’d experiment with hair dyes, maybe get our ears pierced, or tie-dye clothes. And now life’s moved on and it’s much more accessible to tattoo yourself with a gun off the internet, or [get a huge tattoo and] pay it off monthly,” she notes.

“We’re losing perspective of how invasive and permanent these things are. The person we are in our teens and 20s isn’t the person we’re going to be for the rest of our lives. And their career aspirations might not be the same for the rest of their lives.”