On Saturday, hip hop artist Lil' Kim (née Kimberly Denise Jones) did what most other social media lovers do on a Saturday night—she posed a collage of selfies to her Instagram page.
But while the action itself wasn't anything out of the ordinary, fans remarked that the "Crush On You" rapper seemed to look much different than they previously remembered. Kim posted a throwback photo shortly after that contrasted her current look:
Lil Kim in 1999. (Photo: WireImage/Ron Galella)
"Trust, I know. Being the darkest of my mom's daughters-wasn't easy," one user commented on the pic. "Be blessed #BrownSkinWin #MelaninMama"
"You were beyond beautiful when you were black, what happened to you? 😢😢," said another.
Jones has been seen often with blond hair and paler skin in recent times, but her selfie seemed to spark renewed scrutiny, which Lil' Kim has said she's been subject to in the past, even when her skin was darker.
Back in 2000, Jones told Newsweek, that at the time that she had very low self esteem. "All my life men have told me I wasn't pretty enough — even the men I was dating," she bravely shared. "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."
She later went on to reveal some painful memories from her past dating experiences. "I have low self-esteem and I always have," Jones said. "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 I can I compete with that?' Being a regular black girl wasn't good enough."
Lil' Kim in March 2016 (Photo: Getty Images/Earl Gibson III)
Skin lightening is common around the world, with a wide array of products catering to people of colour who wish to alter their skin tones. But the practice is said by many to reflect the dominant feeling across cultures that it's better to look European more often than not.
"We have a situation where black women are lightening their skin, Asian women are also lightening their skin but also getting their jaw bone smashed to give them a pointier chin and their eyes ‘fixed’ to look Caucasian.," Kemi Nekvapil, a life coach and motivational speaker, told HuffPost Australia. "I know for me, being from Nigeria and growing up in England, beauty wasn’t something on my radar. What I saw as beautiful was someone who didn’t look like me."
The Grammy-award winning musician has not commented on her recent selfie or whether she lightens her skin.
With files from Lisa Yeung and HuffPost Australia.