COLUMN: The price of beauty

I should be the very last one to judge a beautiful black woman who died tragically from her supposed imperfections.

But I know we, as women, need to understand this message, no matter how many times we may have heard it: Accept yourselves for who you are and how you look.

We have to accept it, before another dies from unnecessary cosmetic procedures.

Twenty-year-old London-born Claudia Aderotimi went to Philadelphia on Feb. 5 to undergo a buttocks enhancement procedure. She was with three other friends.

Claudia had difficulty breathing and chest pains afterward. She died Tuesday.

She was injected with industrial silicone, an illegal substance the Food and Drug Administration never cleared as safe for the procedure.

Spending about 2,000 pounds (roughly $3,800) to have the procedure done, it also cost Claudia, an aspiring actress, dancer and model, her life.

The procedure was supposed to be an early birthday present; a gift Claudia thought would make her more desirable in the music video industry, a place where voluptuous "Beyoncé- and/or J-Lo inspired" derrieres are highly prized and sought after.

Claudia's death had an unexpected effect. Women all over the Internet were not only questioning why she did it to herself, but how far would one go to be "sexy" and who is to blame.

I still can't really judge her. Because I know I am not above her. I understand Claudia's desire to be different, accepted in a "perfect" world.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of women who can relate to me on this issue. You may not want your butt bigger, but if given the chance (and money) you just might have something lifted up, sucked out, smoothed down and/or added on.

And it is not all our fault.

We are barraged with "beautiful" women who are airbrushed to flawlessness.

But in reality, these women are just like us. Beautiful yes, but normal — minus the gazillion-dollar glam squad. I don't know about you, but when I wake up in the morning, I don't have people apply my make up.

I hope Claudia's tragic death was not in vain. Reading her story was a wake-up call to me and hopefully to women and men alike: don't change yourselves for others people's ideals of beauty.

Love what God molded you into: An amazing person minus all the plastic.

The price of beauty should never be your life.