Katie Piper "If I ruled the world"

Anna Walker

In 2008, an acid attack by her ex-boyfriend left Katie Piper (36) with severe burns and blindness in one eye. Now a successful activist, presenter and model, she tells us what she would do if she were in charge

Schools would teach the importance of the family unit. I think a lot of society’s problems— in the justice system, in the education system—are because people start life within broken social backgrounds. I don’t think the importance of those units—whether a mother and father, two mothers or two fathers—is discussed enough, especially in terms of the stability it can give children.

 

Vinegar would be served with all food. I lost a lot of my taste buds when I got burned and now I put vinegar on every meal—Shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognese, my roast… And it never comes in big enough bottles! If I buy a lot of it then it comes in a sort of tankard, but I need it in a big dispenser. It would be so lovely to have it in a decanter.

 

You’d have to interact with strangers. When I visit villages I always notice that people say, “Good morning” when they walk past you. In London we don’t speak to people even if they step on our foot! More interaction, asking people how they are and acknowledging people would be great. It just puts you in a good mood if someone smiles at you.

 

Everyone would have their basic needs met. Essential human rights like hot water, heating and food would always be available to those who simply don’t have it. The distribution of wealth isn’t equal, and we can afford to change that.

 

Self/fake tan would be mandatory. One, because it’s feel-good, and would make you release endorphins. You feel good when you’re tanned and people always comment that you look well. But also, magically, it would lower the cases of skin cancer and sun stroke. People don’t realise how dangerous the sun is. It’s not necessary to sit in it with baby oil on when you can just have a good bottle of St Tropez!

 

Everyone would have to take regular exercise. When the options were taken away from people during lockdown, even those who had never exercised before wanted to do their hour-long walk outside. I think it’s so good for so many different reasons. It’s a natural anti-depressant—exercise is a great tool for mental health and loneliness because it provides structure. It would also improve our stats around obesity. Not everybody wants to go to the gym but walking each day can really help lots of cardiovascular problems.

 

I’d like to see more kindness. During coronavirus we’ve all been more kind to people we’ve previously been dismissive of like key workers, Amazon drivers and Ocado delivery people. I’ve seen great stuff on social media where people are putting thank you notes on their wheelie bin. I’d ensure there was more appreciation of all the different pillars of our community.

 

When you move into a new area, you’d have to introduce yourself to your neighbours—you’d knock on the door and swap skill sets. You could say, “Look, you’re retired so would you mind taking my parcels in for me? And if you need me to help with your shopping or fixing your computer, let me know.” I think it would help to create more of a sense of community.

 

There would be better public hygiene. If everybody could just Dettol down their seats on public transport after using them that would be great. Let’s get that system going! 

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