lil kim mug shot

[ESSAY] Lil' Kim: Diary of a Mirror

'Emotional Justice' warrior Esther Armah considers the evolution of Lil' Kim and the message it sends

Esther Armah

by Esther Armah, August 14, 2012

lil kim mug shot

Lil' Kim 1996 mug shot

about her beauty struggle, and I guarantee you she’ll share a nappy-haired horror story, a ‘pretty-for-a-brown-girl’ tale, or a soliloquy about episode in her life when wished she were darker—included as opposed to othered

We can stroll down history’s lane all the way back to Hottentot Venus to find images of Blackness that captured deviant imagination, unwanted attention, hurt and horror. We can fast-forward through Hollywood’s images of chosen ladies to the latest image of Lil' Kim and stand transfixed by her bluest eyes and what feels so clearly like pain emanating from them.

The altar of re-invention is crowded these days— so many folk are worshipping at it.

I call this 'A Diary of a Mirror and Me,' our journey through trauma, transition, transformation, and hopefully triumph— that’s how we navigate towards emotional justice. Our growth, how we’re loved and by whom,  and even who we’re rejected by, contributes in some ways to how we see ourselves, our mirrors. Our story is in our mirrors—our reflected selves of honest hurt— lover who chose us, and the one who didn’t, the mother who critiqued us or ignored us or lovingly called us those names that are not loving at all, the father who walked away or never claimed us. The mirror can be our friend or our loyal liar, it can be where we see who we want to be or project where we want to go.

The recent pictures I saw of Lil' Kim  made me really wonder about the pages in her diary of her mirror.  What happened to her sense of self between the first blade and these latest set of images? What does she see when she looks at herself? Who looks back at her? Who looked back at her before she succumbed to that first incision?

Who stares back at you?

Esther Armah is a NY Radio host, playwright, national best-selling author. ‘Emotional Justice Unplugged’ is her annual arts & conversation series. Follow her on Twitter: @estherarmah #emotionaljustice or Facebook:

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