“Saturday mornings were used for football and music videos when I was growing up. I used to sit on the beige-colored floor in my parents’ bedroom, my eyes fixed on the moving images, and flip through the channels between MTV & VH1 before the clock struck noon. It was on that Saturday morning that I saw the music video for Lil Kim’s 1996 song, “Crush on You.”
Kim shows off four different color-coordinated beauty looks during the span of the four-minute, thirty-two-second video.
- The blue wig has the ends angled up towards the sky, and the blunt, sharp bangs fell just above her eyebrows.
- Kim’s collarbone was touched by the bottom of the fire engine-red wig. It featured long, sweeping bangs. The bold, glossy red lips completed the look.
- Kim is seen with a bright lime green messy bob, paired with an iridescent lip gloss and a glittery smoky eyes.
- The final look was a curly yellow hairstyle with the ends falling out of the bun that she wore on her head. It looked like a fountain of spirals. Kim is visually leaned in by the camera so that you don’t have too. It focuses on her yellow and orange eyelashes along her lash line.
Music videos were a visual escape hatch from the very normal, very suburban life I led in Westerville, Ohio. However, this one offered a different kind of fantasy. It seemed possible.
Kimberly Denise Jones was born on July 11, 1974, in Brooklyn, New York. According to legend, she met Biggie Smalls at Fulton Street and rapped for him. The rest is music history. Kim and Biggie became lovers and colleagues. His relationship is one of her most talked about chapters.
“Crush on You” was a single on Kim’s first album, Kim is the one who runs the project from beginning to end, but Biggie is all over it. Clover Hope, a writer, describes the album recording process. “Biggie also heard her voice and modified it.” Their goal was to soften her voice. They had created a perfect rap girl…Biggie and Rivera were all about fulfilling their desires.”
There’s a number of pieces on whether Kim was “good” or “bad” for feminism, whether her sexually explicit lyrics were liberating or damaging. This isn’t one of them. I don’t believe the answer is straightforward. There is value in how marginalized people are able to control their oppressive systems. Some people shrink; others become louder and more free to live their lives on their terms. Kim was one of the latter. Kim was a forceful, sexually-oriented, attention-seeking woman who was bold in a world that told her to be more “ladylike.” She tried out different makeup and wore colored wigs. Although her sex-goddess style was inspired by the male gaze, it offered something new to women.
Kim has a number of iconic looks in her beauty repertoire. Kim wore a purple pastel wig with matching bodysuit and pastie, a Versace logo-covered blond wig to the 2001 MTV Music Video Awards. She also wore a magenta-and blond lip gloss that gave her a mirror-like glow from the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. She was a dazzling example of excessive glamour, and she wasn’t ashamed to be noticed. She was the original Black Barbie. Kim embraced excessive hair and makeup that many young girls tell her to avoid. Kim did not allow these social constraints to dictate her appearance. She saw makeup and hair as a way to express freedom. They allowed for expression, control, and creativity. It didn’t matter whether one person appeared to be contradictory. She made it possible for the various parts of your personality to co-exist in a place that was not cluttered or neat.
“Kim created another lane, allowing women to shape their own images and express themselves in any way they want through style. Women don’t have a single way of dressing. You have the right to choose what you wear and how you wear it. Growing up, I believed there was only one way to be female. It was thrilling to discover that this wasn’t true.”