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Just how much of the new Kerry is illusion?

Isn’t it incredible what giving up fried eggs and doing a few press-ups can do for a girl?

If recent reports are to be believed, Kerry Katona has been transformed from a self-loathing coke-addled kebab guzzler to a serene and swan-like Mother Earth in mere weeks thanks to a mixture of work-outs and willpower.

I don’t intend to be mean — like anyone even vaguely aware the horror of Katona’s largely miserable life, I welcome this beaming new incarnation. I do however query the notion of Kerry Katona as a poster girl for hard work and self-determination.

Actually Katona’s transformation is a brilliant illustration of contemporary PR management methodology; design a mould for public life — then pour a celebrity, whether they fit comfortably or not, into it. Before uber-celeb manager Claire Powell took her on, Kerry looked to be finished as a money-spinner.

Just six years after the gutsy ex-pop star was embraced by the public as their TV Queen of the Jungle, her sunken, drug-ruined face gazed sadly out of our newspaper pages like a trapped animal waiting for the axe to fall. Divorce, drugs and depression had done her in.

A few weeks under Powell’s steely gaze, and Katona is a changed product.

New press stories inform us that her stint at a military-style boot camp, along with a revised diet, has given her previously sack-like body the willowy silhouette of an athlete, and chiselled taut Gwyneth-like features out of the saggy pulp that was once her face.

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There is no talk from Powell’s camp about the wonders of tummy tucks, botox, fillers or liposuction so we must assume that none of these has been undertaken.

We also see photos of Kerry, who admits she used to lock her bedroom door so that her children wouldn’t disturb lengthy cocaine sessions, laughing in a carefree manner during family trips to amusement parks.

Boot camp and regular smoothies have apparently turned her into quite a wonderful mother too.

There’s no mention within Powell’s camp of tip-offs to the paparazzi or posed ‘spontaneous’ photo shoots, so we should accept that Katona has simply realised the joy of parenthood.

I can’t help worrying though about the after effects of being re-branded and re-booted for sale, especially for someone as fragile as bi-polar Kerry, who spent most of her childhood in care.

A new life in Sussex away from her sinister ex-husband is a sensible idea, and Powell can take real credit for that — but how much of the ‘new Kerry’, formed in an impossibly short space of time, is a stage-managed illusion?

And how dangerous would it be to have this last, precarious lifeline taken away?

A few years ago Powell performed a similar sleight of hand with a low-grade glamour model, turning her into a successful and respected novelist/horsewoman/endorser of bed linen and Celebrity Mother of the Year.

When the mask slipped — as it did when Powell walked away from one-time Katie Price last year — the truth behind it was rather ugly. So don’t look at those beyond-belief ‘after’ pics of Katona and trust that a bit of grit will have the same effect on you.

Powell and her ilk don’t just make over their clients, they generate a new reality for them, then work like dogs to sustain the illusion as long as it pays.

Let’s hope Kerry can uphold Powell’s vision of her for a very long time — the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.