People have been whispering for decades now about the ever changing looks of rapper and producer, Lil Kim. From a nose job, chin and cheek implants, Botox, liposuction, butt lifts and implants, and skin bleaching, Lil Kim has been accused of it all- and likely has done it all. Though she is adamant in her denial of getting any work done, insisting lighting and the magic of excellent make up application, fans and critics regularly pick apart her photos for new signs of renovations.
In today’s society, it is not uncommon to hear one criticize their own appearance and the appearance of others. They wish to be thinner, taller, lighter skinned, darker haired, with perfect lips, noses, breasts, and cheeks. Our obsession with the perfect image is an ancient one, going back to the times of the Egyptians and perhaps even beyond; recorded evidence suggests that cosmetic surgery has been occurring for just as long.
However, recent history shows a rapid escalation in cases of cosmetic surgery, and the human obsession with perfection is reaching an extreme. While everyone has their personal image issues, most agree they are not willing to go to surgical means to fix them. Of course, there are some amongst us that do opt for these “drastic measures” and amongst them, there are those who can’t get enough. It becomes an addiction, a craving, an irresistible urge that needs to be satisfied.
A photo posted by Lil’ Kim (@lilkimthequeenbee) on Apr 24, 2016 at 3:11pm PDT
It just so happens that with our celebrity culture, people like Lil Kim are front and center the criticism.
People, especially women in the black community, are legitimately angry with Lil Kim following a new series of photos she posted to her personal Instagram page. In the images, Kim’s skin is several shade lighter than at the beginning of her music career, leading people to once again accuse her of skin bleaching. With colorism an ever present problem for women of color- where lighter flesh is often seen as the superior and desired complexion- many darker toned women feel that she is turning her back on being a representative of dark beauty. While I, as one such dark and lovely woman, do agree that skin bleaching is a problem, I think blaming Lil Kim and other bleachers for the problem isn’t digging deep enough.
We live in a culture that supports the idea the to be beautiful you must fit a certain typecast, with one of the qualifications being light, clear skin. The pressure to be beautiful pushes some to the point of being willing to chemically alter their skin. It also leads to other alterations: hair straightening, breast augmentation, the pressure to be a size 2, and more. Then, because we’re contradictory people, we judge those who try to fit these insane standards of people, dragging them through the mud and ridiculing them to the point of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
That leads me to another problem we don’t like to talk about, specifically when it comes to minorities: mental health disorders. Too often we are told to suck it up, get over it, just keep pushing forward, and that our only solution is prayer. While prayer can help some, being taught that needing therapy or medication means you’re “crazy” or somehow defective is incredibly damaging. Findings in 2010 showed that the rate of suicide among black people was nearly half of the national rate, despite black people only constituting 13 percent of the population. There’s a reason for that, an unspoken shame in the community. We cannot find help, and so suicide becomes the only answer.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a serious mental health condition which causes people to see non-existent or exaggerated flaws. Often this causes people to have negative self-views, seeking plastic surgery as a means of correcting these flaws; unfortunately, plastic surgery is never enough. People go under the knife again and again, seeking satisfaction and relief where it cannot be found. Sometimes it leads to surgeons having to blatantly refuse to operate for the safety of the patient, which does not discourage the person with body dysmorphic disorder- they simply find someone willing to perform their desired procedure.
Does Lil’ Kim suffer from body dysmorphic disorder? It may seem so, especially when you read these quotes from her: