Lil’ Kim’s makeover says more about us…

On Sunday Lil Kim, the rapper who is and always has been too cool for us, revealed a new look. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe not. I would link to it but Google can guide the way. Headlines called her ‘unrecognizable’ and Twitter, as usual, went on the attack. Claims of “wanting to be white” abounded and one particularly egregious tweet declared “dating Lil’ Kim over the years would feel like a dude was cheating on his girlfriend with 50 different women.” Side note: if you’re the boyfriend or girlfriend of the guy that tweeted that please dump him immediately. Now, one could argue that I have no business writing about this. That what Kim does with her appearance and her body is her business. That writing another of what is undoubtedly many “hot takes” on the internet today is unnecessary at best. But I feel the need to say….something…anything. Because the truth is, Lil Kim’s makeover says more about us than it does about her.

Kim has been outspoken for years about her low-self esteem. She’s spoken a number of times about feeling less attractive, less worthy, less everything than other women. In one particularly heartbreaking interview, she mentioned that “Guys have always cheated on me with women who were European looking. Really beautiful women that left me thinking ‘How can I compete with that?’ Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.” It’s upsetting to hear. And it would be easy to respond with a “those men are trash” or a “you’re beautiful regardless of what guys think” or whatever self-love message the internet is shilling these days. But Lil Kim’s right. Being a regular black girl isn’t good enough. The effects of racism and white privilege are heavily discussed today, but colorism is the oft-ignored reality that plagues people of color. We praise lighter skin, straighter hair, slimmer bodies. If you’re not of European descent you better hope you either 1) pass or 2) ‘act white enough.’ Life is easier when you’re white, or at the very least, just black enough. And for us, Kim was too black. Too dark. Too ghetto. Too…..different. So we piled on the criticism. Both within in her inter-personal relationships and her “relationship” with the media Kim was never enough. Her father and boyfriends alike made her feel ugly and we were no better. We pushed the narrative that Euro-centric features are best. And we

The effects of racism and white privilege are heavily discussed today, but colorism is the oft-ignored reality that plagues people of color. We praise lighter skin, straighter hair, slimmer bodies. If you’re not of European descent you better hope you either 1) pass or 2) ‘act white enough.’ Life is easier when you’re white, or at the very least, just black enough. And for us, Kim was too black. Too dark. Too ghetto. Too…..different. So we piled on the criticism. Both within her inter-personal relationships and her “relationship” with the media Kim was never enough. Her father and boyfriends alike made her feel ugly and we were no better. Though we may not have directly called her ugly, we pushed the narrative that Euro-centric features are best. And we need look no further than Angelina Jolie or Kylie Jenner to prove that we prefer black features on those that are decidedly non-black. Living in the spotlight, in a Hollywood that prioritizes white culture, white features, white people…we cannot be shocked when the hatred of the other is internalized. We cannot be surprised when someone does everything in their power to belong. We cannot be disappointed when a person tries to gain power in the very institution that makes them powerless. Therefore, we cannot be critical of Kim.

We told Kim she had no worth and now we’re condemning her for trying to find it.

Lil Kim’s makeover is nothing more than an indictment of our society. A society that has (and will continue to) planted a seed of self-hatred in countless little girls and ensures they always have enough water to feed it. We are responsible for Lil Kim. While the choices she made on her path to self-love as her and hers alone, we did nothing to help her. We stood idly by and wondered “how much does someone have to hate themselves to do that?” instead of asking “why did we expect any other result but this one?” Kim has not been the first. Nor will she be the last. And I fear that this post and the countless others like it will do nothing to ensure that, in a few days, months, or years, I won’t be sitting here typing all this out again.

 

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One thought on “Lil’ Kim’s makeover says more about us…

  1. Loved the closing paragraph and the seed and watering analogy!

    On Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 8:40 PM, Hearing Myself Talk wrote:

    > Conni posted: “On Sunday Lil Kim, the rapper who is and always has been > too cool for us, revealed a new look. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe not. I > would link to it but Google can guide the way. Headlines called her > ‘unrecognizable’ and Twitter, as usual, went on the attac” >

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