by Akin Oyedele
When former First Lady Stella Obasanjo suddenly passed in 2005 during a tummy tuck, the reactions of Nigerians were varied. On one hand were those who felt a sense of personal and national loss because the First Man was now a widower. On the other hand, there were those (typical) Nigerians that concluded that it ‘served her right’.
Stella deserved to die because she’d carried our oil money to Spain for oyinbo operation. While she was casting for Dr. 90210, we were chasing molue, sweating without NEPA and a privileged few of us were burning calories at the gym. Other Nigerians felt sorry for the woman, yet a part of us thought she should have settled for some sit-ups and a diet with less amala in it.
Sadly, another one of ours has lost her life to plastic surgery – in the public eye. Claudia Aderotimi, aka Carmella London was a student of Thames Valley University in London. She was 20 years old; Stella was 60. An aspiring hip hop dancer and choreographer, Claudia travelled from London to Philadelphia with three friends for a butt enhancement, reported to be a ‘top-up’ from an earlier procedure in November last year. 12 hours after the procedure, she developed chest pains and succumbed to breathing difficulties. Claudia went through the procedure with a friend who, fortunately, survived. In truth there is no such thing as an ‘untimely death’ because no death is timely, but tragically Claudia died young.
Videos are increasingly demanding nothing less than a ‘Mrs. Endowed’, and unsurprisingly, many report that the deceased believed a bigger booty would give her career a boost. Claudia’s friends revealed that she had once auditioned for a video shoot with padded trousers. Apparently she got all the attention until she was found out.
As with the death of the former First Lady, public reactions are scattered across the spectrum of sympathy. Claudia has become the butt of many jokes – “What a bummer”, “She’s an asshole” and such are some of the comments from users of a news website. Still there are those who mourn with the Aderotimis and their friends. Most of my friends, through whom I heard Claudia’s story on Facebook, had a common thread running through their comments: they were empathetic and they gave a word of caution. None of them thought it served her right.
Claudia’s tragedy has taught us a few lessons. To appreciate our bodies for what they are (or what we’ve eaten them into), and to be aware of the risks of cosmetic surgery. If we probe further, we realise that we are partially responsible for her death. All of us who watch and endorse the booty shakin’, bling danglin’, women objectifyin’, pop culture in word and deed contributed fuel to Claudia’s shattered dreams.
More glaring responsibility however falls on the women who had a direct hand in her death – women who lured two young girls into undergoing unnecessary surgeries. These ‘plastic surgeons’ are currently being investigated by Philadelphia police, and we hope that justice is served.