You’ve probably completed the 10 year challenge doing the rounds on social media by now. If not, consider yourself commended.
For the most part, according to my news feed, the so-called viral challenge has seen people share their ‘glow ups’ alongside captions which humble-brag about how far they’ve come in life, aesthetically, professionally, emotionally…
Whatever. Thankfully, what has become a self-praising pursuit disguised in shrouds of self-deprecation about your old emo fringe has been given a shred of credibility by none other than Katie Piper.
The television personality and all-round good egg shared her own take on the viral challenge which might strike a less-superficial chord with the world wide web.
Piper shared two photographs side-by-side, as the challenge dictates.
The first photograph was taken in 2009 in her mum’s kitchen while she was in recovery after being victimised by an acid attack by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice that caused major damage to her face and blindness in one eye in March of the previous year.
The other photograph is from 2019. It was taken in her kitchen, Piper enthuses, calling ageing a privilege after her near-death experience.
Piper captioned the photograph with an important message for her followers, writing:
Don’t let this challenge create anxiety within you about ageing – it’s an absolute privilege. 1st pic me age 25 year of 2009 in my mums kitchen. 2nd Pic is me age 35 last week in my own kitchen 2019!
The philanthropist also used hashtags to express how precious life, and good health are to her after surviving her ordeal.
After the attack, Piper had to undergo a series of pioneering surgeries to restore her face and vision.
While both her attackers were convicted and given life sentences, Piper gave up her right to anonymity in order to increase awareness about burn victims. The first photo was taken at a time when she was still struggling physically and having to reconstruct her face.
Katie has been through a total of 40 surgical operations to treat her injuries, and wore a plastic face mask for 23 hours a day, which flattened the scars and helped retain moisture.
Her experience was documented in the 2009 Channel 4 documentary Katie: My Beautiful Face.
Before the attack, Piper has been embarking on a career in modelling and won second runner-up in the Miss Winchester 2006 beauty pageant, having trained as a beautician.
She also had put in time as a digital television presenter, working principally on web-TV shows and features.
Her training has happily served her well in her mission to do good with the platform afforded to her after she was thrust into the media spotlight upon disclosing her identity during the court case.
She has dedicated her time to body positive activism through her weekly column, TV appearances and the Katie Piper Foundation.
Piper is an inspiration to anyone who has ever been made to feel low about themselves or the way they look and is a symbol of perseverance and the strength of human spirit.
At a time when social media causes us to judge a book by its cover in the most superficial way, with curated feeds of our daily highlights, edited and tweaked and filtered to please ourselves and our peers, Katie’s message is refreshing.
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.