The internalization of European ideals of beauty is written all over Lil’ Kim’s face. Her self-hatred is no longer news; nor is it the stuff funny memes should be made of. But, sadly, this past week it became obvious Kim’s issues aren’t necessarily just relegated to herself, they also extend to any reminder of her past self that doesn’t meet her warped new standard of beauty, like Naturi Naughton.
If you recall, Naturi played Kim in 2009’s Notorious, much to her disapproval. A couple of weeks after the film’s release, Kim wrote a Facebook post complaining about not being able to choose who portrayed her and trashing the former 3LW member as an actress. “I would have never picked Naturi, she doesn’t have a Lil’ Kim aura at all! She looks nothing like I looked back then,” she wrote. “We have NO similarities. Watching her on-screen was so ‘dreadful’ as Simon Cowell would say. She is tasteless and talentless. Never once did she contact me for input or to get a feel of me for the character. A ‘TRUE’ actress would contact the source to be the best they can be in portraying someone. That told me right there, she wasn’t right for the part and not to mention, Naturi has got to be one of THE worst actresses I’ve ever seen and I can’t believe they chose her. I really can’t!”
Confirming Kim’s criticism was more about how Naturi looked than acted, Biggie’s mom spoke out immediately after that rant saying, “She felt the character we chose for her was too dark. Do you know why the character was too dark for her? Because she’s a white woman trapped in a black woman’s body, and you can tell the world I said it, because those are Lil’ Kim’s words. She should be ashamed of herself.”
Seven years later it would appear Kim never got that memo, as her distaste for Naturi, and by default herself, still lives on. Wendy Williams spilled a bit of messy tea (when is it not when it comes to her) when she had the entire cast of Power on her show talk show this past Tuesday. Carrying a private off-camera convo onto the next segment of the show, Wendy returned from commercial break sharing, “Naturi played Kim in a movie and Kim didn’t like her playing her and then tried to keep her away from her at the VH1 thing.”
It’s quite interesting Lil’ Kim could applaud Teyana Taylor and Lil Mama’s portrayals of her at the Vh1 Hip Hop Honors show but didn’t want to be in the same space as Naturi. It’s clear for Kim, seeing a woman who was chosen to play her and who embodies the physical traits she’s spent thousands of plastic surgery dollars to escape from, was far too much to bear. And that’s a painful reality to bear witness too, much like the ever lighter, blonder, increasingly nipped and tucked Kimberly Denise Jones we faintly recognize today.
Thankfully, Naturi seems to understand the hate isn’t really about her, telling Wendy the situation is “not even worth my energy.” But we do wish someone would spend the energy to help Lil’ Kim heal. It may be wishful thinking on our part, but perhaps Kim and Faith putting their past behind them is the first step toward Kim stepping out of the shadow of the pain her relationship with Biggie caused. Maybe — just maybe — she’ll see she doesn’t have to be a physical replica of the woman Christopher chose as his wife in order to be loved and accepted. Hopefully, she’ll stop perpetuating the same hate she felt was shown to her when she was an around-the-way brown-skinned beauty from Brooklyn to other dark-skinned women. If Lil’ Kim would actually give herself a good, hard look in the mirror, she’d have no problem facing Naturi Naughton or the reality of what years of internalized hate have turned her into.