St Albans woman faces up to Channel 4’s Beauty and the Beast
PUBLISHED: 18:17 22 February 2011 | UPDATED: 14:05 02 March 2011
A BEAUTY-obsessed 21 year old has said taking part in a cutting-edge TV show to raise awareness of facial disfigurements has been the best experience of her life so far.
Freelance make-up artist Louisa Day, 21, from Colney Heath, will soon be appearing in Beauty and the Beast: Ugly Face of Prejudice – a social experiment investigating the extremes of discrimination which involves an appearance-conscious person and a disfigured person brought together each week.
Louisa, a former STAGS pupil, was working in Debenhams in Oxford Street when the production team for the Channel 4 show were looking for people to appear in the programme.
Although Louisa wasn’t in work that day, her colleagues recommended her as an ideal candidate and she was later cast on the show.
She said: “The people I work with thought I would suit it because at that point a year ago I was really self-conscious and it came across as almost an arrogance, even though it wasn’t, as I always had a full face of make-up on even if I was going into work at 8am. Looking after my appearance was kind of like my full time job.”
On the first day of filming Louisa was moved into a house with 26-year-old Adam Pearson who suffers with a genetic condition known as neurofibromatosis which has caused malign tumours to grow over his face, affecting his sight and speech.
His twin brother also has the condition but it has caused the tumours to grow internally around his brain, causing memory problems and epilepsy.
In a reversal of expectations, Adam immediately judged Louisa on her appearance. She said: “It was a real reversal. He really did tear into me at one point, saying I was a wannabe WAG who would do anything for money.
“He said some really horrible things that I wouldn’t have ever expected from him but he now does throw his hands up over it as he knows it was wrong as he did what he expected me to do to him.”
On the second day Louisa took Adam on her typical day.
She explained: “We went to a spa and I had my fillers done, but all the surgery he has ever had has been in order to save his life or enable him to breathe or see better.
“Then we went to one of the West End clubs, which was really uncomfortable. I go there regularly and it was quite shocking to know that people there that I have known for years literally didn’t speak to me or even acknowledge me.
“In the end I did have to leave as it was so upsetting. I hadn’t prepared myself for that and I felt so guilty as I didn’t want Adam to think I was leaving because I didn’t want to be there with him.”
On the third day of filming, Adam took Louisa out on his charity work with facially disfigured people, a visit to his surgeon to discuss an operation he is likely to need and then on to his family home.
By the end of the experience the pair had started to strike up a friendship and Louisa describes Adam as having “a heart of gold”.
The final day was set aside for reflection and a psychiatrist attributed Louisa’s obsession with appearance to body-dysmorphic syndrome.
Louisa said: “The whole experience put things into perspective, I was so self conscious. On the last day I had to take my make-up off and I got upset but I was feeling so guilty as Adam was standing in front of me and there’s nothing he can do about the way he looks. It was very emotional, I must have cried a million times.
“I’m not going to say I don’t wear make-up any more as I enjoy it and I don’t ever feel the need to remove it.
“But when I’m round my friend’s house after a night out I can sit there without make-up on, whereas before I would have got up early to do my make-up to sit in my pajamas.”
She added: “It’s also the sort of thing I thought I would find fun and I was looking for opportunities to start trying to build a career in TV presenting, but when I look back on it now it was the best experience ever, regardless of whether or not it would be on TV.”
Louisa and Adam’s episode will be aired on March 9.