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On Sunday, Lil’ Kim revealed a new blonder, paler look on Instagram—appearing nothing like the celebrity we all fell in love with.
Fans took to Twitter to judge and mock the rapper. Most responses struggled with why Kim, a black woman, now appeared white. And many were eager to diagnose the motivation for her makeover, citing everything from body dysmorphia to poor self-esteem.
Sad about Lil Kim and everyone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin. We should be taught the importance of self-love.
— Scully (@isthatscully) April 25, 2016
Lil’ Kim has had a multitude of changing looks over the years and confessed in a Newsweek interview in 2000 that she has never seen herself as beautiful.
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.
While some have made fun of her on social media, others have been calling for compassion.
I feel bad for Lil Kim, honestly. Not everyone is strong enough to weather the hatred against them. Shamed before and shamed after. Sad.
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) April 25, 2016
Kim, 41, is the only female rapper besides Missy Elliott to have at least three platinum albums. And, as nearly every comment about her new look demonstrates, she works in an industry where a women’s beauty generates more conversation than her talent.
Lyz Lenz is currently the managing editor of the Rumpus. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Jezebel, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Mashable.