I was reading the rather tragic circumstances surrounding Natasha Stewart, best known as Pebbelz Da Model, who was arrested and charged with taking part in an illegal butt shot procedure (that included injecting cement), which resulted in the death of a 37-year-old woman. According to published reports, the victim, Karima Gordon of Atlanta, died after having the butt-shot procedure done at the Mississippi home of an illegal practitioner. In April of last year, Morris Garner was charged with depraved heart-murder after the autopsy revealed that Gordon had injected her with a silicone-like substance. The substance created blood clots in her lungs, which eventually killed her. After his arrest, Garner named Stewart, along with another woman, as his accomplices, with Stewart being pegged as the broker. According to published reports, Stewart has already been indicted on charges of murder, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and is currently being held without bond. Just hours before reading this story, I was sweating and hip shaking my way through Zumba class. Although I wasn’t feeling very much like working out, I still made sure to pay extra attention to the squats. I “gots” to remember those squats. How else am I going to get a shapely backside? Genetics already robbed me of what should have been my birthright: a big black girl’s booty. Although the reality is that I will never have a donk, that doesn’t stop me from trying. All that is left for me is squats, which I will likely have to do for the rest of my life. That is, unless I come into some serious money and can afford an extra plump rear end. Actually…Nope, I wouldn’t do that, I say to myself as I grunt through the umpteenth rotation of wide legged squats – or at least I think I wouldn’t.Needless to say that this story really struck a nerve. The same nerve was touched after reading the story from last year about the 20-year-old student from London, who too died after getting silicone injections in her buttocks. Is being that conscious about one’s backside really worth the risk of dying? Of course, the tragic extremes to which some women go to “fix” their bodies is no way exclusive to the a** community. Since the days that Victorian women were sipping down arsenic as a way to improve the complexion of their skins, women of all colors and body shapes have been doing some pretty stupid and dangerous stuff in the name of beauty. October of last year brought us news reports of women in Hong Kong undergoing a risky “facial revitalization treatment,” which involves a blood transfusion procedure that is usually administered to almost terminal patients with metastatic cancer. Four women ended up being hospitalized for septic shock from the procedure, which is said to cost $6,500 a shot. And one woman eventually died. Yet despite the stories we’ve read about women dying from botched cosmetic procedures (legal or otherwise), there will always be women knowingly willing to risk pain, permanent disfigurement and possible death to fit an idealized body image. And according to a report, published by the YWCA (the largest woman’s organization in the entire country), entitled Beauty At Any Cost, women are not only obsessed with the pursuit of beauty, but it has become such a burden that it has taken pretty serious tolls on our mental and physical health. According to the report, 80 percent of women surveyed reported being very unhappy with the way they look. This body consciousness has appeared to manifest themselves in a new form of discrimination, known as lookism, which is a major contributing reason to why women with less than average looks earn nine percent less than their more prettier counterparts. With that much at stake, you can certainly understand the pressure some women feel to do whatever they can to basically compete. Not to mention that there are entire financial industries dedicated to creating crisis of beauty and making women feel insecure. I bet prior to the introduction of personal deodorant, nobody – man, woman or child – was thinking about feminine odor. Heck, I’m willing to bet that there were a bunch of people who liked the way a woman’s private parts smelled naturally. But after many years of having hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising drilled into your head (or plugged up the yoo-hoo – whatever you prefer), you eventually begin to internalize the message that your body’s natural smells and scents are repugnant, thus in need of being sprayed down with some sickly sweet-smelling stuff that I’m pretty sure is the same stuff used on plastic flowers to give a more realistic feel. Now on top of worrying about paying bills; figuring out what’s for dinner; that term paper you have to do for Sociology 201; taking the kids to soccer practice along with the gazillion other errands you have to do today, you are also worrying if your Aunt Vag is smelling less than a meadow of lavender and daffodils. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday morning while out walking the dog and listening to FM radio, I heard a commercial for a promotion in which the station would be giving away free breast implants. All you have to do is submit a “tasteful” picture of your “tiny ta-tas,” which in turn will be posted on the website and voted on by all of Philadelphia. If big-chested lady luck happens to be on your side, you might be given the “breast new year ever!” Imagine a radio station giving away a junk enlargement by having men take pictures, albeit tastefully, of their jawns and posting it on the website for all of Philly to decided who should be “swinging down low in 2013!” Of course, the easy, most given advice is to ignore the marketing and learn to accept your body and beauty on your own terms. But honestly, who among us is really immune? And before you answer that, you might want to take inventory of all the unnecessary, costly, and yes, even dangerous cosmetics, hair and other beauty care products we have littering our medicine cabinet. And this is why I can not find anything amusing in Stewart’s situation. There is nothing funny about the emotional and physical pain that harbors beneath why we are willing to die for our vanity.
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