This interview originally appeared in a January issue of Reveal Magazine.
‘I doubted myself as a new mum’
She’s an inspiration to women the world over, but Katie Piper reveals her battle with building confidence
Considering Katie Piper’s incredible list of achievements, such as founding her own charity, the Katie Piper Foundation and picking up numerous accolades for her courage and innovation, and the enormous obstacles and difficulties she’s overcome, it’s easy to assume she’s the most confident person in the world. Doting husband? Amazing career? Adorable little girl? Check and check.
But, as the TV presenter and philanthropist openly admits, she hasn’t always felt so self-assured. Becoming a mum to Belle, two, with hubby Richard Sutton has had its ups and downs.
‘I think my confidence was challenged when I had Belle,’ she says. ‘I doubted myself, which I think is normal.
‘You’ve got lots of hormones and it’s a brand new chapter. You’re looking after something vulnerable, so you don’t want to get it wrong. You’re only human.
‘People tell you “Oh you shouldn’t do that,” but despite all the advice and books out there, there is no right or wrong way. One day, you just realise you are doing it. You are bringing them up, and it’s fine!’
‘We’d like Belle to have a sibling’
Now Belle is a walking, talking, bubbly two-year-old, Katie’s confidence in playing mummy has grown.
‘Belle’s at that lovely age where she talks to us and gives back,’ she beams. ‘She’ll say she loves me, and she cuddles me and kisses me. It’s so nice. It’s like, “Yes! She’s happy and she likes us.”’
Letting her parents know she loves them isn’t all chatty Belle has been saying – she’s recently been hinting at wanting a sibling to play with.
‘Because Belle is now talking, she’s role-playing with her baby dolls,’ she explains. ‘It’s quite sweet watching her do it all, so she’s brought it up.
‘Richard and I haven’t had any serious conversations about it yet, but we both have brothers and sisters, so we know what it’s like to have that sibling relationship. It would be something nice for her to benefit from, but we’ll see!’
‘I have hang-ups like anyone else’
Katie is still living with the life-changing burns and medical complications she suffered an ex boyfriend threw acid in her face in 2008. However, she doesn’t count her scars as a hang-up – they have become part of her identity.
‘If you didn’t scar, you would die,’ she explains. ‘Only survivors wear scars, I don’t want to be a victim.
‘They have become part of me, and I see them as a neutral thing, like if you’re blonde, you’re blonde. I’m a burns survivor, one part of that is having scars.’
Just like the rest of us, she feels self-conscious every now and again.
‘Like anyone, I have regular hang ups. I get bloated and think my legs are quite short, but I try to put it into perspective.
‘Having short legs doesn’t stop me from being a really good mum, being bloated doesn’t stop me being clever and strategic in business.’
‘Social media isn’t something to live by’
In an age of flattering Insta filters and easy access to photo tweaking apps, how will Katie prevent Belle from getting caught up in the ultra-edited perfect lives people project on social media?
‘I think it’s unavoidable that she’ll see these things,’ she says. ‘And I don’t think I could create an environment where she wouldn’t feel insecure, because even I can feel insecure looking at them.
‘But I hope she’ll get a range of input. Even now she comes to workshops with my volunteers, so she sees people with disfigurements and disability, at two years old.
‘She lives with me, and while I’m glamorous for red carpets and things like that, in my everyday life, I look like a tramp! I’ll try to teach her, but it’s difficult. You can’t say you’re going to raise the perfect child. All I can do is try to equip her with the right tools.
‘I think it’s all about balance,’ she says. ‘Things have always been edited in magazines and shot by professionals on photo shoots. The difference is that now a random person on the street can edit too.
‘We need to get the right message across from teachers at school and parents at home, to raise awareness and understanding that it’s just a marketing tool, it’s not necessarily a thing to live your life by.’
Katie’s new book Confidence: The Secret is out now