PHOTOS Lil Kim then and now: A look at her changing appearance over the years

Lil Kim's new look 4

The many looks of Lil Kim then and now have become a daunting task to keep track of; over the past two decades, the rapper and emcee has been linked to literally dozens of rumors about plastic surgery, skin-lightening creams, and other appearance adjustments. Thanks to the controversial Lil Kim 2016 photos–which Kim herself shared, and which you can see above–her fans and the social media world at large have been abuzz with discussion about what might have led Kim to alter her look so drastically–along with what it means to be a dark-skinned woman in America.

As soon as Kim shared the above photo set, publications rushed to get quotes from plastic surgeons about any and all work that Kim might have had done. Page Six quoted celebrity surgeon Dr. Gary Breslow, who said he feared Lil Kim is a plastic surgery addict, and that, in his professional opinion, she “should seek professional help” for her problem before it gets any worse. In addition, Us went to board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Levine, who said it seems clear that Lil Kim’s plastic surgery includes work on her eyes. “They seem elongated and completely different,” she told the publication. “Kim would have had to have surgery to remove the fat, skin and tissue to create this new eye shape.”

Angel Brinks Fashion 5th Year Anniversary Celebration with Special Guest of Honor Lil' Kim Featuring: Lil' Kim Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 02 Apr 2016 Credit:

Lil Kim at the Angel Brinks Fashion 5th Anniversary Celebration, on April 2nd of this year.

Lil Kim has openly discussed plastic surgery several times before: in 2005, for example, she gave an interview to Angie Martinez in which she explained that she had had some reconstructive work done after an abusive ex-boyfriend broke her nose. However, Dr. Levine gave another quote to Us, on a topic that’s gained more attention than any other Lil Kim then and now topic: namely, the color of Kim’s skin. “It’s clear that there has been some skin bleaching,” Dr. Levine said. “She’s probably used chemicals, which contain very high doses of acids, on her face, combined with high-acid creams to lighten her skin.”

Indeed, a great deal of the coverage the Lil Kim 2016 coverage has focused on her lighter skin. A recent CNN article made up of little more than tweets from shocked fans states bluntly that Lil Kim is being “criticized for ‘looking white.'” It begins with an equally blunt declaration: “Lil Kim looks nothing like she used to.” Huffington Post‘s take on the topic is more helpful–we “already know” what happened to Lil Kim’s face, it claims, since she “has been socialized to believe she is ugly and unworthy because she is not white or light.” The article goes on to expose a double standard:


The difference between Kim and so many others who struggle with this specific kind of low self-esteem is that Kim has money and access to doctors willing to indulge and encourage her need to change herself into a different person. Add to this the pressure most women in entertainment feel to uphold unrealistic requirements of beauty. Perhaps the saddest thing about Kim’s transformation is that it reflects a look that is very much celebrated and applauded—just not on her.


And it further points out that a very real reason celebrities with dark skin turn to lightening creams is emotional. Here’s Azaelia Banks’ response to a fan who asked her–after the Lil Kim 2016 photos went viral–why Azaelia herself felt the need to bleach her skin:


According to the Washington Post, such a “drastic” step might be more common than you think. For many, the first example to come to mind is Michael Jackson, but Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez have both been accused of lightening their skin tone, and former baseball All-Star Sammy Sosa has been the victim of cruel memes that exaggerate his already pronounced bleaching.

Kim herself discussed dealing with depression and low self-esteem all the way back in 2000, in a Newsweek interview that’s often quoted in the wake of the most recent Lil Kim then and now photos:


I have low self-esteem and I always have. 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….[Breast implant] surgery was the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life. But people made such a big deal about it. White women get them every day. It was to make me look the way I wanted to look. It’s my body.


Finally, here’s a Lil Kim photo gallery, reaching back into the 90s and ending this year:

Lil Kim 1999 Source Hip- Hop Awards at the Pantage Theatre Los Angeles, California - 20.08.99 Featuring: Lil Kim Where: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States When: 20 Aug 1999 Credit: Chris Connor / WENN

Lil Kim at the 1999 Source Awards


KIMBERLY JONES aka LIL' KIM performs at the BREATHE concert for Breast Cancer Treatment and Research held at the Wiltern Theatre WENN Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 27 Oct 2001 Credit: WENN

Onstage in 2001


KIMBERLY JONES aka LIL' KIM attending the Marc Jacobs fashion show held at Pier 54 Where: New York City, United States When: 14 Sep 2004 Credit: LK/WENN

At the Marc Jacobs fashion show in 2004


Lil Kim CW Winter Press Tour Party at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Pasadena, California - 19.01.07 Featuring: Lil Kim Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 19 Jan 2007 Credit: Starbux / WENN

At the CW Winter Press Tour party in 2007


Kimberly Jones aka Lil' Kim US premiere of 'Sex and the City: The Movie' at Radio City Music Hall - Arrivals Featuring: Kimberly Jones aka Lil' Kim Where: New York City, United States When: 27 May 2008 Credit: PNP/WENN

At the Sex and the City: The Movie premiere in 2008


Lil' Kim Lil' Kim performs live for Rockit at the Club QUO nightclub Featuring: Lil' Kim Where: New York City, NY, United States When: 14 Jan 2011 Credit: WENN

Before a 2011 performance


Lil' Kim LA Pride 2012 in West Hollywood - Day 2 - Backstage Los Angeles, California - 09.06.12 Featuring: Lil' Kim Where: California, United States When: 09 Jun 2012 Credit: WENN

Backstage at the LA Pride festival in 2012


Floyd Mayweather Media Workout Day at Mayweather Boxing Club Las Vegas Featuring: Lil Kim Where: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: Judy Eddy/

At the Floyd Mayweather Media Workout Day in 2015


Lil Kim then and now 2016 2

With Kim Kardashian in early 2016


RELATED ARTICLE: Lil Kim’s new look: How many procedures has she had done?


(Photo credits: Lil Kim then and now via Facebook, Chris Connor / LK / Starbux / PNP / Judy Eddy /

website statistics