Photo Credit: Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty
You've probably already heard the kerfuffle on this one, so I'll just give you the highlights: According to local news reports, a 63-year-old Chicago-area woman died on Thursday after injecting a homemade anti-aging mixture of hot beef fat into wrinkles on her face.
Oddly, her death was not the result of the infections that this DIY injectable process caused -- it was the result of an unrelated abdominal infection. But the patient checked herself into the hospital when her face started to burn up and sources say that "her face reportedly looked 'grotesque' and the infections in her mouth and lip also had scarring from performing the injections 'for some time.'"
So, first up: Beef fat -- and I really cannot overstate this -- is not a good way to erase wrinkles. It won't work. You will make a mess and end up in the hospital. Do not try this at home.
But I'm willing to bet good cash money that you wouldn't try this at home. That, as much as you detest wrinkles or other imperfections you've noticed on your own face, you've been hearing this story and thinking, "good Lord, what kind of crazy person would do that?!"
We're fascinated by cautionary tales like Beef Fat Lady, and Botox Mom and all those women who end up hospitalized or worse during black market butt injections. We shake our heads, roll our eyes, and tsk our tongues, because when we hear these stories, we get to put our own body image issues aside for a minute and feel a little more sane. Sure, I threw myself a pity party yesterday when I saw some pictures from two years ago and realized yes, I sure was skinnier back then. But that's the normal amount of self-indulgent self-loathing that our culture requires of women everywhere. It's not like I spent all day thinking about my former skinniness. I didn't repurpose household items in some sort of Dr. Frankenstein quest for physical perfection. I felt bad for awhile, I decided to add an extra workout to my week, I moved on, sort of. Hooray for me, right?
One of the ways I know that our culture's beauty standards were invented by a true evil genius is that they simultaneously demand that women care about them completely and also pretend like we totally don't even notice they exist. So you feel bad when you don't live up to a certain beauty ideal -- say because you have wrinkles or body fat. But you also feel bad if you spend too much time obsessing over that failure, since that means you're not only wrinkled and fat, but also shallow, insecure and vain. And of course, we tear down any other woman who seems to have succeeded where we've failed, failed where we've succeeded, or just plain cared about it more than we do, since we're always caught in this rock/hard place spot.
Beef Fat Lady clearly cared a lot. And yet, she still wasn't beautiful. And she was past caring who knew it.
So let's not judge Beef Fat Lady. It might not be that she was so crazy -- it might be that she was just more honest about how much pressure we're all up against. And that's exactly what we need to change.