I’m willing to bet rapper, actress and model Lil’ Kim and I wore the same shade of MAC foundation — NW45.
Now, we are on opposite ends of the color spectrum.
Lil’ Kim just erased the struggle of being a Black woman from her physical appearance and bought herself ‘white privilege.’
Let’s be honest. Being a woman of color in a society that worships at the altar of all things light and bright, having dark skin and kinky hair can seem like an extremely heavy burden. We’re not the preferred choice; we’re more like an acquired taste.
Growing up, I wished my skin were lighter and my hair less coarse—just like most girls my complexion. Even as a young child, it was obvious to see that fairer skin was preferred. It was evident on the TV shows and commercials I watched. The boys on the playground definitely preferred fair skin. So did some of the teachers and almost all the salespeople in the stores my grandmother took me to.
The invisibleness of Black women in the fashion industry
Not too long ago, the nude shoe was all the rage. It was said that the nude shoe could elongate your legs and we all want to look like we have longer legs right? Then came nude lipsticks and nude underwear. Here’s the problem. That shade of nude and my nude didn’t match. That didn’t stop me from buying the mauve colored shoe and trying to pass it off as my nude anyway.
It took a London-based company, Nubian Skin, to create a line of nude-color hosiery and underwear for women of color.
This may seem pretty insignificant to some. But when you go through your entire life being an afterthought in the marketplace, you begin to feel not so invisible when someone creates a quality product just for you. And you hope that your dark-skinned sisters across the globe would experience this glimmer of hope and appreciate their natural hues instead of damaging their skin with poisonous skin lightening concoctions trying to become the preferred standard of beauty.
I’m not saying there hasn’t been progress. There has.
But apparently that progress wasn’t moving fast enough for Lil’ Kim.
She bought for herself ‘white privilege.’ She removed from her physical being the struggle…the difficulty of being a Black woman. Meaning, she’ll never be overlooked in any store or restaurant for the color of her skin ever again. She’ll probably be offered more acting and modeling gigs. She won’t be the obvious suspect in a crime. She won’t be guilty of driving while Black. She’ll most likely get the fair warning and won’t be thrown into the back of a squad car. Child Protective Services would give her the benefit of the doubt and let her keep her kids. She could probably even go into the store Oprah got denied service and get stellar service. And not to mention, she’ll be able to find a plethora of shoes, underwear and lipsticks in those popular nude shades.
Lil’ Kim’s extensive plastic surgery bought her what the rest of us are in the streets and in the marketplace fighting for…and some even die for it.
Lisa N. Alexander is the author and founder of This Woman Knows and What Million-Dollar Brands Know. She is an award-winning filmmaker, director, producer, and writer and is the owner of PrettyWork Creative.