ARCADIA Spring 2024 Digital Cover star: Katie Piper OBE

Katie Piper OBE is explaining to me that she doesn’t always have time to load the dishwasher. “It’s impossible for anyone to do it all, nobody can,” she says. The thing is, during my chat with Katie, I am inclined to believe that she, more than most, has the secret of how to pack more into her day than most because she’s achieved so much in her 40 years. 

Since 2008, she has, managed to – deep breath – write over 10 books, launch her own publishing imprint The Unseen, win awards for her broadcasting work (she’s a panellist on ITV’s Loose Women, hosts a breakfast show on ITV, and fronts the series ‘Jailhouse Mums’, in which she investigates the US judicial system and the impact it has on babies, children, and their mothers).

She has also founded the pioneering Katie Piper Foundation, and had two children, Belle and Penelope. So, perhaps sometimes the dishes don’t get done. Actually, Katie corrects me, they do; her husband, Richard, will, when she’s busy “carry the bulk of the routine. Everyone needs help and support, and I certainly need it to be able to maintain this sort of career.”

This is the career that, to an extent, was halted when Katie was attacked. Prior to that, she was modelling and forging her way as a TV presenter. Back then, social media was in its infancy and, for many, Katie’s Channel 4 BAFTA-nominated documentary Katie: My Beautiful Face was an awakening and the first time they’d been made aware that that sort of attack wasn’t singular. That’s changed. 

“I really do think that’s the positive thing about social media – it has offered a platform for people who might’ve felt unseen previously. When I was first burnt in 2008, I struggled to find other people who were in a similar situation outside of hospitals. Now, I have curated my social media feed to be reflective of and include people with visual differences.” 

Undeniably, Katie is one of the most prominent of those with visual differences, and while there are many for whom the sort of media attention Katie faces is a burden, for Katie, it instead presented an opportunity to help others on a huge scale. most notably with the Katie Piper Foundation. 

Blazer: San Faff

Trousers: Norma Kamali

Shoes: LK Bennett

Conceived to support those living with burns and scars. “I took inspiration from the amazing experts I was seeing abroad during my recovery experience (when she realised the UK did not have the services other countries like France had as an example). It encompasses everything from the psychological effects to the physical impact, and the aim is for it to be a single place where survivors can access all the help they need on the road to recovery.” 

To date, the Katie Piper Foundation has helped over 4,000 burns survivors, received awards, and, more recently, Katie has been awarded an OBE for her services to charity. Of the day, she recalls what she was wearing when I ask her – but more than that it is the memory of how it felt to have been recognised for her work that remains impressed upon Katie’s mind: “It requires a lot of people saying you’ve impacted them, and that’s an amazing thing.”

Katie has successfully parlayed a tragedy into a flourishing broadcasting career. Her response is emphatic: “I love that people with visual differences, or a disability are recognised as being able to do more than just talk about that element of their lives. I like to do things that are light-hearted and funny too. And if I can use my profile and broadcast experience to shine a light on things that are more serious then that’s brilliant.” 

On the latter, that publishing imprint, The Unseen, is working hard to make sure stories which might otherwise never find a platform do so, with Katie using the intense spotlight focussed on her to illuminate the experiences of others. Katie tells me that it all came about as a result of the frequent refrain she’d hear when she would encourage someone to share their story: “Oh but I’m not famous,” or “I don’t have a big following.” 

Katie’s response was textbook Katie: “I decided to do something about that.” Unseen’s books include; Ellie Goldstein’s tale of becoming the first supermodel with Down’s Syndrome, ‘Against All Odds’, Sophie Lee’s ‘In My Skin’ and Livi Deane’s, ‘My New Normal’, in which she details her experience of retinoblastoma, to which she lost an eye, to being featured in Vogue.

Being seen, or perhaps a better turn of phrase would be not being unseen, is a big theme in Katie’s work in championing others, but I wonder if there are days where her confidence wanes, “A lot of self-esteem doesn’t come from how you look, but how you feel. I will often realise that I don’t feel my best self because I am tired. Solving my tiredness often resolves how I feel about my appearance.”

Katie credits exercise as a surefire way to make her feel better, therefore she was the perfect ambassador for the fitness tracker and smartwatch brand Garmin, “It’s handy to know how you’re performing and to keep up with that and it means me and my husband can be a bit competitive about it!”

Katie’s main form of exercise is running, which she’s described as empowering and a source of strength, but, she tells me, she’s recently also taken to Reformer Pilates, lamenting to Katie that it’s quite an expensive habit – she agrees, but adds “I feel so satisfied after a session.”

Katie’s other ambassadorial roles include working with cult skincare brand La Roche-Posay, and with the much-loved hair brand Pantene. 

She is proud of these roles, and of how appearance can foster confidence: “I’ve always been honest with how my hair has been on a journey and has been a confidence tool for me over the years. Pantene as a brand has really been at the forefront of representing those with visual differences and have made sure their products are shown on and designed for all heads of hair.”

Blazer : Sans Faff

Shoes: LK Bennett

I find myself returning to the thought that Katie seems to do more than most, that my work days comparatively seem feeble. She laughs and immediately assuages my fears: “I think the thing to remember is that if I’ve spent three days being really active and giving my all, I’ll then need the downtime at home.” 

Something she said earlier in reference to curating her social media feed springs to mind, and I wonder if in these nine words Katie has perhaps summarised how she’s managed to both achieve so much and have such an impact on others: “It’s all about how you use it, isn’t it?”




Kyle Galvin 


Becky Bowyer 

Make-Up Artist 

Toby Salvietto 

Hair Stylist 

Zeb Luke Gethen