You saw it. The unrecognizable and scary photo of Lil Kim on Instagram captioned ‘Miami Heat.’
Pale, pounds of makeup caked on her face and a blonde head of hair, the original Queen Bee looked more like Khloe Kardashian than the Kimberley Jones from Brooklyn I grew up listening to.
Homeless at 14-years-old and working for drug dealers until she was discovered by the Notorious BIG, Kim was born a hustler. But at her core she was a hurt young woman looking for acceptance from the men in her life. Some blame Biggie for her insecurities, which is unfair considering his own struggles (he once called himself fat, Black and ugly as ever). Kim suffered through abusive relationships, including one with a convicted murderer Damion Hardy, who was recently sentenced to life in prison for his role in six murders. Chile.
She’s no longer the confident, sex-positive woman who could go toe-to-toe with the men and come out victorious. She’s not the same person who celebrated her sexuality in a leopard bikini on the ‘Hardcore’ poster. Who we’re looking at now is the scared, self-conscious young woman who hid her insecurities behind makeup and plastic surgery.
In an infamous Newsweek interview from 2000, which is currently making it’s way around the Internet, Kim admitted to having low self-esteem and explained the root of her issues. “All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough–even the men I was dating. And I’d be like, ‘Well, why are you with me, then?’ “It’s always been men putting me down just like my dad. To this day when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says.”
Kim raised eyebrows a few months ago when she and Kim Kardashian posted the same photo on their respective social media accounts. Only, in Kim’s photo, she appeared severely lightener.
Kim claimed it was because she wanted to showcase her makeup artist’s great work, but we’re not buying it.
I often find ask myself “why didn’t she just stop having plastic surgery?” The boob job I understood. I even reasoned with her first nose job. But just like Michael Jackson before her, she couldn’t stop. Many people have diagnosed her with Body Dysmorphic Disorder but we can only speculate.
Yesterday, People Magazine ran an entire segment dedicated to Lil Kim’s appearance. I can’t recall if Lil Kim has ever graced the pages of People before but I’m sure she’s never been on the cover.
It seems no matter what or how much white women enhance their appearance to look like Black women, it’s acceptable. It’s celebrated on celebs like Kim Kardashian.
But when a Black woman falls victim to the white supremacy she’s been subjected to her entire life, she’s viciously attacked. Black women often find themselves stuck in limbo: your features aren’t beautiful on you but on your lighter and whiter counterparts, it’s seen as absolutely gorgeous. The Black men you love reinforce those ideas by telling you that you aren’t enough. That your brown skin with full lips and wide nose aren’t beautiful. It’s something that deeply affects Lil Kim.
Kim also said in the viral Newsweek article, “I have low self-esteem and I always have. Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type. Really beautiful women that left me thinking, ‘How I can I compete with that?’ Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.”
And she was right. If you check Twitter at any time, you’re bound to find endless attacks on Black women. Malcolm X once said the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman and 50+ years later, it still rings true.
Years before rappers were embracing high fashion, Lil Kim was already a muse to designer Marc Jacobs. Vogue Editor at Large Andre Leon Talley once dubbed her as “the Black Madonna.” Lil Kim is a legend and a survivor.
I’ll never attack Lil Kim’s looks publicly again. I’ll never ask why she didn’t stop getting plastic surgery. I’ll never ask her if she regrets her surgery.
But I’ll make sure to tell her that she is loved and appreciated.
Kimberly Jones, you are enough.