The promotional poster for Lil’ Kim’s 1996 album, Hardcore, was, and is, legendary.

It was one of the hottest, sexiest posters of all time. If you don’t believe me, ask any Black, heterosexual Gen X man about that poster. And then watch them nearly faint. Or say “Oh sh**!!” out loud. That poster turned myself, and my homeboys into jelly.

I shouldn’t even have to tell you what it looked like. But, some of you millennial dudes may need a quick history lesson. Google the words “Lil’ Kim,” “Hardcore,” “leopard print,” and “poster”…and, take some time to catch your breath, because you’ll lose it. The pose, that sultry look on her face. I looked at the pic before I started writing this article, and I had to pause. Memories, my dude. Memories. Not only was the poster obviously hot, but Kim was hot. Smoldering. Beautiful. Sexy. The problem is, it seems no one has ever told Lil’ Kim this.

In the past decade, we’ve seen Kim transform her face with several plastic surgeries. It’s been shocking to say the least. But yesterday she posted new pictures of herself on her Instagram account, and Black America recoiled in horror. Not only does Kim no longer look like herself, she no longer resembles a Black woman.

Several things could factor into Kim’s transformation into….I’m not sure. Low self-esteem. Possible self-hate issues. Possible self-hate issues pertaining to race. The pressure of the recording industry to adhere to a European standard of beauty. Who knows? What I do know is that Kim doesn’t seem to have had anyone in her life, at any point, tell her simply…that she was beautiful. More importantly, I doubt if she’s ever had anyone show her she was beautiful.

In past interviews, she’s outright said the men she dated in her past told her she wasn’t “pretty enough.” She stated that even her own father insulted her looks when she was growing up. Not to mention the past abuse she experienced in her relationships. I love The Notorious B.I.G. I do. But it’s been documented that he pulled a gun on Lil’ Kim at least once when they were a couple. That, among other instances, more than likely helped to sink her sense of self-worth. And that’s a tragedy.

In everyday Black life, especially everyday urban life, men (I’m guilty, too) tend to tell women they are “hot.” Or “sexy.” Or “fine.” What we don’t often tell Black women is that they…are…beautiful. Inside and out. Too many women rarely, if ever, hear that adjective to describe them. We all know the ‘hood, (and Black Twitter) got jokes. But, who’s got the love? Because, from looking at these new pictures, Lil’ Kim needed it back in the day…and she really needs it now.

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