I don’t know if you’ve seen Lil’ Kim lately, but this one pic in particular made me screech to a halt—especially when you compare it to how she looked when she first debuted. Then I saw her on BET’s Rip the Runway and wanted to faint. She’s got a new album out, yes, but she’s also got a new, improved(?) rump and was rolling it out on the show along with her performance.
It’s sad to watch someone with so much determination to chip at themselves, procedure by procedure, until they’ve outwardly become a completely different person. Most of us don’t have the money to fuel a plastic surgery addiction; a trip to the beauty supply store for a fresh set of lashes and maybe a new pack of hair extensions is about as far as it can go with the economy the way it is.
But I wonder how many of us would nip at this or tuck at that if money wasn’t a consideration and we could naturally make the change, meaning we weren’t destined to end up having a sneaky pic of our backside end up a topic of conversation on somebody’s Facebook page.
Once upon a time, black women had to defend our curvy figures because they didn’t fit the standard image of mainstream beauty. We argued that our bodies, though thicker in certain parts, even amongst the thinner sisters, are just as beautiful. Then hip-hop celebrated the shapeliness of the black woman’s brickhouse body type. We lost control of our own body image and eventually, it wasn’t so much of an acknowledgement of our beauty as a hot commodity that every sister worth her salt had to have in order to be considered desirable and attractive.
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On more than one occasion, I’ve heard guys comment as bands of young ladies walked by that some were cute, but they didn’t have enough butt. I’ve seen girls tear themselves down and curse their own completely adorable shapes because they felt they weren’t stacked enough. I’ve seen more than my fair share of women trying to use the iron maiden contraptions that are body shapers to give the illusion of the full breasts, itty bitty waistline, and big, boomin’ backsides we’re all supposed to have.
It doesn’t help that statistics have us all hepped up on this fantastical shortage of black men and ever-dwindling possibility of getting married. So competition is high out here for a husband and, in some circles, ladies are doing whatever is necessary to put themselves in the running. A bangin’ body is a must-have. A job, good credit and personality, all that is nice. But dudes aren’t checking for your business card or your FICO score when they size you up and decide if they want to talk to you. They’re checking out the features on your lean, mean, sexual fantasy machine. And this thirstiness is what’s driving otherwise rational, reasonable women to meet seedy characters in hotel rooms and have their butts injected with concoctions that only God and chemical engineers know consist of.
We used to have to fight to have our beauty recognized. Now our beauty is being crammed into this monolithic, one-size-must-fit-all standard that’s putting pressure on girls and even mature women. Meanwhile, the dudes who rate and berate our bodies, at least a good half of the time, don’t have any business under the sun offering up criticism on anybody else’s physique. They’ve got pot bellies. Man boobs. No muscle tone to speak of. Love handles, chicken chests and flat tails of their own. But somehow, they feel entitled to slam a sister her for what they feel are physical shortcomings. We’ve got to stop propping these guys up like their houses ain’t made of glass.
This June marks the anniversary of the pivotal release of “Baby Got Back,” the song that will never die. It’s taken on a whole new meaning since Sir-Mix-a-Lot wanted to cheerlead the sistergirl shape. In the end, we all, including Lil’ Kim, have to be comfortable and happy in our own skin and if she finds peace in changing her parts and pieces like a real-life Barbie, then more power to her. But I hope she and other women will pause to reflect on why they feel like they need to make those changes in the first place.
Should psychological testing be mandatory before plastic surgery?
Image via midwestnerd/Flickr