Art and life reflect mutuality. Tracy Lynn Garner, a woman convicted of depraved heart murder for administering buttocks implants to a Georgia woman, has also died. Garner was 58 and had not yet served four years of her life sentence.

This scenario parallels a story-line in Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It reboot. There, a character came close to death after receiving sketchy body modification. In real life, Garner’s black market butt injections caused Karima Gordon’s death and could have killed more people. The New York Post reported that Gordon’s best friend identified herself as one such person. The friend ultimately decided against receiving injections from Garner. She also said both she and the victim were deceived into believing Garner was a nurse.

In contemporary times, cosmetic surgery and physical enhancements often help people present physically the way they see themselves mentally. These procedures can increase confidence, smooth out perceived rough edges and allow people to put their self-designated best foot forward. Part of bodily integrity is bodily autonomy, and people should be able to pursue their body goals as they wish.

However, the official reports and informal murmurs about how these particular unauthorized enhancements can affect Black women give reason for pause. On one hand, people understand the pervasiveness of beauty ideals and how appearance affects life. On the other hand, backroom encounters are killing too many of us. People who are not sufficiently vetted should not be injecting people with God-knows-what in unregulated amounts and with disparate recourse when compared with the harm their victims can suffer.

Prosecutors said adult entertainer Natasha Stewart recommended that the victim visit Garner for injections. Stewart was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment.

While Garner’s autopsy will be conducted soon and her prison death does not remedy these sad circumstances, an opportunity for caution remains. If someone pursuing this kind of cosmetic procedure is reading this, please do your due diligence and pursue a reputable process. Some experiences are irreversible.

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