Back in 2000 in a Newsweek article Lil Kim was quoted saying “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.”
In 2000 I was only 11 years old, too young to be picking up a Newsweek paper, and certainly too young to be reciting any Lil Kim lyrics; but if you asked me who was my favorite female rapper-without hesitation I’d say and still will say Lil Kim.
Back in the 90s there wasn’t any Youtube, Vevo accounts or streaming sites to watch your favorite videos on. Other than BET, there hardly were any stations playing hip hop music videos regularly. Like many others during that time, my mom had a VHS tape of recorded music videos of her favorite artist. The infamous “June’s Videos” had music videos from artist like Dru Hill to Busta Rhymes; and like any true New Yorker, all the top videos from Bad Boy including Lil Kim’s “Crush On you” video.
Me being the vibrant child that I was-and still am, loved the color schemes of the video. I especially loved that not only her outfit matched the color of the set-but so did her hair! It was the first time I could recall seeing a black girl wearing different color hair, and finesse ALLL the looks. Til this day it’s hard to pick a favorite. Even though I donned her yellow look, I equally love all of her looks the same.
Becoming an adult and seeing her transformation with all of her cosmetic work always been a shocker to me. Here’s this woman who is petite, fly, loves pink, and Barbie (the first black Barbie-before Nicki Minaj was a household name) hella dope, and about the same complexion as me, kind of remind me of me-only sees herself as “a regular black girl.”I wish she knew, to a girl like me, she was never just regular. She’s bold, and dynamic. Her sexual fluidity encourages me to be unapologetically sexy-no matter how uncomfortable others may seem(or how I perceive them to be.) And not to mention iconic. If the slut walk happened 20 years ago-lil Kim would most likely be the front runner of it! I think all of us had that sigh of approval once Diana Ross tapped her boob at the MTV music awards in her famous purple outfit. Did she not know what she meant and still mean to regular black girls around the world? I wish she knew.
In college after breaking up with my ex boyfriend it was lil Kim’s verse in “get money” that was empowering to me . Her harsh explicit lyrics gave me the freedom to express how I felt. Raw lyrics only expected from men-she spit. Things I naturally would not say but will rap along to like…“Yeah what nigga? I ain’t got time for this So what nigga? I’m not tryin to hear that shit Now you wanna buy me diamonds and Armani suits Adrienne Vitadini and Chanel 9 boots Things that make up, for all the games and the lies Hallmark cards, sayin, “I apologize” Is you wit me? How could you ever decieve me But payback’s a bitch motherfucker, believe me” Forever Mood.
At my first college party in Norfolk State University when “put your lighters up” came on and every girl from Brooklyn went AWF! To even watching the Kappas shimmying to “freaky girl” remixed with her on it. I wish she knew what she meant.
Around the same time I decided to dress up as her, I came across a meme that compared a picture of Kim in her infamous squatting pose to a recent picture of her now in the same position. About more than 20 years later– and with a toddler-I wouldn’t expect much of the iconic rapper. But the surgeries over time completely distorted her look making her almost appear unrecognizable. We’re always quick to point out her flaws, and in the same breath discount her surgeries; without even realizing that we (the public) contribute to her insecurities.
I knew once I decided that I wanted to dress like her for a costume party, I had to do it right. The yellow outfit seems like something I’d wear and can easily put together. I had to get the hair, the accessories, and the shoes right. I had to remind everyone of the Kim we once knew and loved, with hopes that maybe she get to see my picture to remind her that she is beautiful. What she did in hip hop and in fashion for black girls like me is monumental-and I hope I was able to reflect that.
Dressing as her, I turned so many heads, and received so many compliments. Perhaps if we and the people in her life treated her like how people treated me-dressed as her; she’d know just how much of “enough” she is. What’s your favorite Lil’ Kim moment? Write it in the comment section.
**I haven’t read anything recently about her insecurities and self esteem, but I pray that she’s finally content with herself.