The Truth About What Happened To Lil Kim's Face

Kimberly "Lil Kim" Jones was the breakout star of Junior M.A.F.I.A., The Notorious B.I.G.'s rap crew and ever-present entourage. The Brooklyn-based group disbanded after its founder was fatally shot in 1997, but Lil Kim (Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s sole female member) carried on making music. Despite her diminutive stature, she became a huge name in hip-hop, not only because she outshone many of her male counterparts, but also for her outlandish and often risque looks. She's earned herself a place in hip-hop history, but it's her ever-changing face rather than her razor-sharp rhymes that she's best known for today.

The original Queen Bee has reportedly gone under the knife on numerous occasions over the past few decades. Her surgeries have long been a source of controversy in the hip-hop community, where cosmetic procedures aren't exactly commonplace. She tends to shy away from discussing the drastic changes in her appearance publicly, but we've been looking into the real reasons behind her repeated trips to the operating room. Here's why Lil Kim looks so different from the girl that turned the rap game on its head in the 1990s.

Lil Kim suffers from low self-esteem

She oozes confidence when she's on the mic, but Lil Kim actually suffers from a severe lack of self-esteem. When she sat down for a candid interview with Newsweek back in 2000, the petite rapper revealed that she developed a complex about her appearance thanks to a string of unsavory suitors. "All my life men have told me I wasn't pretty enough — even the men I was dating," she revealed. "I'd be like, 'Well, why are you with me, then?'" Sadly, instead of seeking out a man who appreciated her for what she was (and there were plenty of those about when she dropped her debut album, Hard Core, in 1996), Lil Kim tried to compete with the so-called pretty girls.

The "Crush on You" rapper told Newsweek that when men were unfaithful to her with women who looked nothing like her, it made her want to change the way that she looked. "I have low self-esteem and I always have," she admitted. "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 can I compete with that?' Being a regular black girl wasn't good enough." Did this experience leave her wanting lighter skin? Rumors of skin bleaching have been dogging Lil Kim for years, though she has consistently denied that she's ever engaged in this controversial and sometimes dangerous practice.

Lil Kim's father used to put her down

It wasn't just the men she dated in her early days that messed with Lil Kim's head — according to the rapper, her own father added to her issues. Her parents divorced when she was 8 and, despite the fact that she wanted to remain with her mother, her dad won custody. When she spoke to Newsweek ahead of the release of her second studio album, The Notorious K.I.M, she revealed that her father would regularly make her feel as though she wasn't good enough. "It was like I could do nothing right," she recalled. "Everything about me was wrong — my hair, my clothes, just me."

She left home at the age of 14, but the men she fell in with after flying the nest proved to be just as damaging. "It's always been men putting me down, just like my dad," she said. "To this day when someone says I'm cute, I can't see it. I don't see it no matter what anybody says." Being constantly put down in this manner is seemingly what spawned Lil Kim's obsession with changing her appearance. As well as several facial procedures, the rapper went ahead with breast implants. "That surgery was the most pain I've ever been in in my life," she said of the implants. "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."

Lil Kim 'gets bored' with her appearance

Kanye West caused quite the stir when he wore blue contact lenses to the Met Gala in 2016, but Lil Kim has actually been doing this for years. When she appeared on Russell Simmons' Oneworld Music Beat back in 2000, the bulk of the conversation centered around The Notorious K.I.M, her sophomore album and the first she'd released since the murder of her mentor and former boyfriend, Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace. The record represented a move away from the highly sexual lyrical content that made her famous, but this wasn't the only big change. The diminutive emcee attracted plenty of attention for her blonde wig and blue contact lenses when she first arrived on the rap scene, and this habit of altering her appearance was about to get way more extreme.

"My whole thing what I do is the image," she said at the time. "One day you might catch me in a purple wig, you might catch me in a green wig, that's what I do. You may catch me in different color eyes, that's what I do. You may catch me with my own hair, my own eyes, that's what I do." The 4x platinum selling artist insisted that she's never been unhappy with her natural appearance, so why all the colorful accessories? "I'm a person who may get bored with my look sometimes," she explained. "I love what God gave me, but sometimes I want to dress it up."

The truth about Lil Kim's skin bleaching rumors

Rumors that Lil Kim had been using skin lightening products gathered steam in 2016 when board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Levine told Us Weekly that it was "clear" she'd been bleaching. "She's probably used chemicals, which contain very high doses of acids, on her face, combined with high-acid creams to lighten her skin," Levine said. This all came about after the rapper posted some near unrecognizable pictures of herself to Instagram. She was called out in the comments, prompting a passionate response.

"Ok but when the f**k did I bleach my skin u miserable moron!" she raged at one critic (via The Jasmine Brand). "Haters will always have something to say even when facts r right in front of ur face, but I understand ur just doing ur job as a hater. But understand this... I checked my calendar and I still won't give a f*** Neveruary the 1st, either."

Lil Kim's been dealing with haters her whole life ("Every time I talk to God, he says, 'Let them keep hating,' she said, per Page Six), but when it comes to the skin tone issue, it's easy to understand why people raise the question. She blamed the fact that men would favor European-looking women over her for some of her self-esteem issues back in 2000, and in 2016, a video of her claiming to be "a Spanish girl trapped in a black girl's body" emerged. "I'm all mixed up," she admitted.

Are filters to blame for Lil Kim's lighter complexion?

Lil Kim went off on one Instagram user who suggested that she bleaches her skin in 2016, but that wasn't the first time that someone pointed out that she looked noticeably lighter in her pics. Earlier that year, the "Magic Stick" rapper posted a picture of her and reality TV star Kim Kardashian to Instagram, and her skin tone definitely didn't tally with pictures from her youth. She might have gotten away with it, but when Kardashian posted the exact same photo to her own feed, she couldn't deny that her appearance had been altered — she looked way darker in Kim K's version of the snap.

"The Lil Kim hate is a different type of hate," she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post (via Hip Hollywood). "I lightened up the picture because I like when the makeup pops a little more and you can see the beauty of the makeup. Kim [Kardashian] wanted the picture to look a little darker, because that's the way she liked it." The embattled emcee added that both pictures were "completely gorgeous," and that Instagram's filters and various tools are "a way for people to express themselves and have fun through pictures and videos!" She concluded with, "And I love photography, on that note moving right along." In Lil Kim's defense, most people are guilty of using filters when they're uploading to Instagram, so she definitely deserves some slack in this instance.

Lil Kim had to 'fix' her nose because of domestic violence

She's suffered verbal abuse at the hands of multiple men, but Lil Kim has also been the victim of vile physical attacks. When she sat down with Hot 97's Angie Martinez in 2005, the rapper opened up about being in an abusive relationship. Over the course of what developed into a frank and insightful interview, Lil Kim revealed that she'd already undergone a procedure on her nose to "fix it" once before, but after being physically assaulted by a former partner, she was left with "a broken nose, black eyes, all that stuff," which prompted further surgeries. Those operations only tell part of the story, however. The emcee's eyes, lips, chin, and cheeks appear to have changed considerably over the years. What made her want to alter her entire face?

"I think I did it because I was a little too vain at the time," she said. "[I was] trying to be perfect. I'm a perfectionist." In the same interview, she admitted that she was a little "excessive" with her surgery at times. She then insisted that it had taught her an important lesson, but when asked if she would ever go under the knife again she couldn't give any guarantees. "Certain things I have to fix, but not as far as go to the extreme to go put something in," she said. "If anything I would take away, because sometimes less is more, sometimes more is great!"

Charlamagne tha God thinks Lil Kim 'OD'd on plastic surgery'

When radio personality Charlamagne tha God spoke with Vlad TV in 2013, he was asked about Lil Kim's ever-changing face, and as per usual he didn't hold back. Charlamagne admitted that he used to have a thing for the Brooklyn native back in the day, but he hated the fact that she'd "OD'd on plastic surgery" since then. "It's sad," he said. "The reason I think it's sad is because she's always been a beautiful girl. There's not one dude in the hood that didn't have that Hard Core poster hanging up on their wall." The co-host of The Breakfast Club acknowledged that there was clearly some kind of "deep rooted issue" with Lil Kim, but he just didn't understand why she chose to alter her appearance so drastically.

"She was always beautiful, so what made her feel like she needed to do anything? Rock out with what God gave you, keep it au naturale." He admitted that it was possible to get work done and still look good (he referenced Halle Berry and J-Lo as examples of "good nose jobs"), but in his opinion, that isn't the case with Lil Kim. "When you start f****** with your face, and you start getting unrecognizable, man, leave it alone," he said. "You're not going to look the same way you did at 20, at 30, so let nature take its course. [...] Kim tampered with her s**t way too much."

Lil Kim's new face 'scared' Dancing With The Stars viewers

Lil Kim and her professional partner Derek Hough finished in a respectable 5th place on Season 8 of Dancing With The Stars. They wowed judges with their spirited jive and their fiery paso doble (both of which scored a 28 out of a possible 30), but when the rapper returned to the show in 2015, she turned heads for all the wrong reasons. She performed "Lady Marmalade" with Patti LaBelle and Amber Riley as part of the 10th Anniversary Special, however her physical appearance overshadowed the song. Fans couldn't help but notice how different she looked compared to when she first competed on the hit reality show in 2009, and many were left in utter shock.

"Lil Kim's plastic surgery scares me," one Twitter user said (via International Business Times). "She really didn't need to change anything. Doesn't even look like her anymore." Many others echoed this opinion, with one writing that it was "time for someone to 86 Lil' Kim on the plastic surgery." Another concerned fan posted a sad face emoji along with the message: "Okay Lil Kim, what is it going to take for you to stop with the plastic surgery. Cuz girl." The rapper posted pics of herself from that night to her own social media, ignoring the haters just like she always does. No matter what you think of her ever-changing face, you have to admire her courage. 

Wendy Williams compared Lil Kim to La Toya Jackson

Multiple plastic surgery stories hit the gossip columns in 2013, prompting a response from Lil Kim — she claimed that the blogs had been photoshopping images of her. One person who wasn't buying this was Wendy Williams, who called the under-fire rapper out on her talk show. "Do you want to talk about Lil Kim and that face of hers?" Williams asked her audience. "Lil Kim has been making headlines because of her dramatic new look. It's not necessarily a new look, it's been over the course of maybe the last decade, she's been getting stuff — it looks like — done, done, filled, filled, filled. It's so tight now, Kim, it looks like a pin would just pop you."

The studio audience laughed along as Williams tore into Lil Kim, insulting her "big chin piece" and saying that she needed to "blame [her] plastic surgeon" rather than the blogs. "Kim, in my mind I know your goal was always to look like La Toya Jackson — you've out-La Toya'd La Toya in your new look," Williams added. She decided to tweet the segment and she even tagged Lil Kim in it to make sure she saw it, which probably wasn't the smartest move. Lil Kim fired back, and she didn't pull any punches — the rapper claimed that her former beau Biggie Smalls ghosted Williams after a one night stand. "He didn't want nothing to do with yo a** after that," she tweeted.

What do the professionals think about Lil Kim's face?

In 2012, celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn told Radar Online that he believes Lil Kim has undergone a variety of cosmetic procedures. Youn referred to the rapper as a "big mess" before outlining the work he thinks she's had done. "I suspect that she's had a lot of plastic surgery, including a nose job (or more than one) that's thinned her nose to the proportions of a popsicle stick," the surgeon to the stars said. "Her face and body appear to have transformed into a different person entirely. Her face appears contoured and has a waxy sheen. It appears that she's undergone injection of fillers as well."

Youn's words were undeniably harsh, but he wasn't the only person to voice this opinion around that time. The following year, Lil Kim's rep spoke out after described the rapper's face as "physically distorted" as she left the set of MTV's Rap-Fix Live. "We would like to inform fans, the media, and the general public that this is nothing more than the blog site doing its best to conjure up much needed publicity and what better way to do so, than to take an American music icon and create a fictitious platform in which to disrespect and humiliate," C.J. Carter said (via E! News). "We at Team Lil Kim are not taking this lying down and are taking this matter very seriously."