what I watched last night

A few days ago there was a quiz in one of the magazines claiming to tell me how much empathy I have for others. By ‘agreeing’ or ‘disagreeing’ with a series of vague statements, I was given an ’empathy rating’ based on my answers. It was of course just a bit of fun, however, I definitely didn’t need to do this quiz to analyse my compassion: all I needed was to watch an episode of Channel 4’s ‘Katie Piper: My Beautiful Friends’ to know that my empathy rating is off the chart! The first episode had me in tears, and I reckon even the least emphatic among us would have a lump in their throat by the end of it.

The series follows the very inspirational Katie Piper on her mission to set up a charity for disfigured people. Three years ago, Katie had acid thrown at her by a stranger and she’s been left with horrible scars over her face and body. A one-off documentary a year-or-so back charted her slow and painful recovery. Since then, it is heart-warming to see that her confidence has come on leaps and bounds, and – despite still having a long way to go herself – she has set about helping others in similar situations. In this run of programmes we get to see Katie meet a few of the brave individuals who her charity – the KP Foundation – will help. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it really puts everyday life into perspective and proves that, in the face of life’s challenges, if you are determined enough, you can achieve anything.

It is rather ironic that Katie (aka Jordan) Price’s reality show should be running on another channel at the same time. Similar only in name, Katie Piper and Katie Price are, in my opinion, at polar opposites of what a role model should be. Price, who is repeatedly going under the surgeon’s knife in a vain attempt to make herself ‘beautiful’, should take inspiration from Piper, and learn that beauty goes far deeper than a wrinkle-free face, blown-up boobs and an inflated ego.

‘My Beautiful Friends’ was swiftly followed by ‘Lily Allen: From Riches to Rags’, at which point I was forced to change channel. It was a rather unfortunate bit of scheduling really, as I can’t understand how anyone would want to watch Lily’s effort to create a ‘normal life’ for herself after sitting through an hour of people who’ve had their normality so tragically torn away. Admittedly, ‘Katie Piper: My Beautiful Friends’ isn’t the most pleasant watch in the world – especially some of the graphic surgery scenes – but if it helps even a few people come to terms with their own problems, then I reckon it’s done its job. Definitely one I’ll be tuning into next week.

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