It was reported yesterday that a woman named Claudia Sereye Aderotimi died in a Philadelphia after undergoing an illegal cosmetic surgery – an injection of a substance to her buttocks – in a hotel room near the Philly airport. According to the AP:
Aderotimi, who lived in London but was not a British citizen, flew from London to Philadelphia on Saturday with three other women. One friend had a similar cosmetic procedure and the other two went shopping in New York, Evers said. Police declined to release their names but said all were in their early 20s.
Earlier this year I found myself getting really angry about the news that French model Isabelle Caro had died after a long battle with anorexia. I got angry because, even as media outlets covered the news that the most deadly psychological condition in the DSM had claimed yet another life, papers and magazines were filled with stories about New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and information about hot new diets that allegedly help people achieve that apparently universal goal.
The overwhelming majority of people who develop and die from eating disorders are women. The majority of people who get cosmetic surgery, and who suffer painful, sometimes permanent, sometimes fatal complications from it, are women (although for cosmetic surgeries, as is the case with eating disorders, the ratio of men to women is changing – not the kind of gender equality we’re after). Now, I’m sure most cosmetic surgeons are reputable medical professionals who have never had a patient die as a result of their services. And I know that there are surgeons out there who do good, whose services improve the lives of their patients. But then there are surgeons, or even amateurs, who prey on the desperate, on the insecure, on the poor or uninsured who can’t afford to go to one of those good, reputable surgeons. There are people who practice “medicine” in hotel rooms, taking advantage of the fact that some women are willing to go to extremes in order to be “beautiful” but cannot afford to do so safely.
Those people are the vehicles through which our cultural obsession with female beauty is literally killing women.
But what about those women who take the risks? What could they have been thinking? You know, every time something like this happens – every time the quest to live up to our culture’s absurd beauty ideals turns deadly – we shake our heads and wonder how anyone could do this to themselves. How could a woman be so stupid, so desperate to be hot, that she would subject herself a procedure that is so dangerous? How could she ever think that something like this is worth the risk?
Look around. Look around you at the billboards and the movie posters. Turn on the TV. Hell, just look at the web ads around this article about Aderotimi’s death. When I pulled it up, the ads around it were for a site that provides naked pictures of Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson. “Kendra exposed!” the ad screams, inserted in between two paragraphs of the article about the woman who died from illegal buttocks enhancement injections.
How could anyone be so desperate, so stupid? we ask ourselves. I think it’s about time we realized that that’s a pretty stupid question.