Prior to the Celebrity Big Brother ‘ race’ row in 2007, British Reality TV star, Jade Goody, was recurrently held up as emblematic of the ‘democratisation’ of celebrity. Yet this controversy gives us cause to question a narrative of populist democracy where the circulation of celebrity status is concerned. This article explores the construction of Jade’s image before, during and after the row, examining how it offers a unique insight into the relationship between Reality TV, celebrity and discourses of selfhood in contemporary culture - especially as these are mapped across the categories of gender and class. Indeed, Jade’s representational journey points to some of the cultural tensions which surround the fascination with Reality TV stars. They are often required to demonstrate the retention of an essential ‘working-class glitz beneath the glamour’ (Biressi and Nunn 2005, p. 146), while (like many ‘essential’ identities), this core can also be cast in negative terms – as the ‘real’ identity which must be (re)assumed if social order is to prevail.