What do Katie Price and Trump have in common? Authenticity

The TV star's language is unfiltered, drawn from her own experience. Like Trump, she connects with the public

Simon Kelner
Wednesday 02 March 2016 20:39
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Katie Price spoke movingly about being a parent to a disabled child.
Katie Price spoke movingly about being a parent to a disabled child.

If Donald Trump can be thought of as President of the United States, why can’t Katie Price be taken seriously? Of course, there are plenty of reasons why she can’t: the boob jobs, the trash talk, the “Jordan” era, the inappropriate liaisons, the shameless publicity-seeking … But I’ve always had a sneaking respect for this self-made mother of five children, and she shares one thing with Trump: she speaks authentically and unfiltered, from her own experience, and in so doing she connects with the public.

Ms Price’s words are not in the least cosmetically enhanced, and her latest contribution to the national conversation has sparked a predictabl e response. She was on ITV’s Loose Women this week talking about attitudes to disability, with particular reference to her 13-year-old son, Harvey, who suffers from autism, blindness, ADHD, and a rare genetic condition which causes behavioural problems.

“I was young when I had Harvey,” she said (she was 23), “and I admit it that if I’d have known he was blind when I had him, as harsh as it sounds, I probably would have aborted him.” Ms Price’s searing honesty about her personal predicament, and the language she employed, is not what we are accustomed to in the public arena. That’s why she connects.

Who, for instance, uses the word “aborted” when talking about their own child? Ms Price tells it how it is, in its unvarnished truth, and there’s no surprise that this frightens people.

On Twitter, there was a typically unfavourable and unsympathetic response, but Ms Price’s point was a more nuanced one, and one which I’m sure would have been welcomed by those with disabled children. She continued: “Now, if they said I was going to have a child with disabilities, I would definitely keep it. I would even adopt a child with disabilities. Until you are in that situation, you don’t know. I love Harvey so much. I would never change anything about him. Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s also rewarding.”

I think you can forgive all her indiscretions for a statement of such unequivocal sensitivity and humanity. I have no experience in working with disability, but I imagine that she would be a source of support for those who do. “We’re really pleased that Katie is … highlighting how positive being a carer is,” said a spokesman for the Foundation for Disabled People.

It’s all too easy to be sniffy about Ms Price, and in some ways she epitomises the vacuity of our celebrity culture. Yet she’s used it to her advantage, and has built up a personal fortune estimated to be £45m in the process. Who else could persuade a weekly magazine to buy an “exclusive” picture feature on her and her husband celebrating their “Wedding Vow Renewal Anniversary”? She’s a phenomenon, all right. She may be guileless, she may even be gross, but people can spot a phoney a mile off. There’s something very real about her and as we’ve seen both here and in America, the public responds to authenticity, in all its guises.

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