Historically, women of color have been made to feel less than. As looking white was seen as a benefit and often times there were. As society “progressed” Black women have been becoming more accepting of their physical features and so have white women. White women have been surgically altering their bodies in an attempt to have the body type of Black women but not to look Black. The result again makes Black women feel lesser than as some of us run out to accentuate features that we are naturally born with. I stray away from saying that white women want to be Black or vice-versa because it’s mostly about the outward physicality and not necessarily the characteristics of each other although that does hold true for some. If you have not seen recent the recent photo collage of Kimberly “Lil Kim” Jones it is a prime example of the plight of Black women in the U.S. and around the world but being in the limelight is a gift and a curse.
The photos of Lil Kim are the results of low self-esteem and bouts with depression. I’ve seen people bullying, yes bullying, her online about her looks in every post, comment, and mention and it simply saddens me that even after sharing her truth and allowing herself to be vulnerable people still mocked her; calling her Chinese and a “tranny” amongst other things. Yes, Lil Kim was and still is a beautiful Black woman and I know in even reading this sentence some of you Hip Hop Heads are disagreeing with me but what you need to know is that true beauty is on the inside and if you don’t change your thinking one day your son or daughter may have the same feelings as Ms. Kimberly Jones. Nobody is perfect and being a Black woman in Hip Hop is hard enough without the pressure to “look a certain way”. We all know that we’re not physically perfect but to redirect your own negative feelings about your looks onto someone else is another problem. You know and I know that no matter how good we may think someone looks it doesn’t matter unless they believe it themselves, even if we tell them every day.
When women try to break into the industry the executives, the label, and everybody in between is laying on the heaviest pressure to LOOK appealing to a broad audience so what does that mean if beauty is subjective? I’m positive Lauryn Hill was pressured to look a certain way just like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, YO-YO, Lady of Rage, Foxy Brown, and Nicki Minaj. Some embraced the new look and some didn’t. Those who are grounded in their values, morals, and beliefs cannot be moved! If you are sure of yourself and have pride and respect for yourself than how you look won’t matter. Lil Kim is someone’s daughter, mother, sister, and friend. I’m sure if Lil Kim were to offer the same people who spoke negatively of her some money, VIP, or something material they wouldn’t have anything to say about her looks then. Black women involved in Hip Hop Culture in any fashion are subjected to sexist, bigoted, and character defamation on top of having their talents challenged by their male counterparts. So the next time you want to say something disbarring about how a Black woman looks how about you look in the mirror and keep your mouth closed.
All my life, men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough — even the men I was dating. And I’d be like, “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.
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 can I compete with that?” Being a regular Black girl wasn’t good enough.
-Kimberly “Lil Kim” Jones