Pop quiz: Name the beloved, super-famous '90s rapper who appears in the image above. Stumped? We were, too. Because that blond woman is actually Kimberly Denise Jones (otherwise known as Lil' Kim). The singer posted a collage of selfies to Instagram this morning, in which she looks practically unrecognizable. "Miami Heat!!! ???," the rapper casually captioned the image. In the picture, she appears with blond hair (complete with dark roots), pink lips, and shockingly pale skin. Sure, Kim's never been one to steer clear of a bold look. Be it experimenting with wigs (and matching pasties), colored contacts, or dramatic lipliner in her '90s heyday, she's come to be known, and celebrated, as a regular beauty daredevil. But over the years, the original Queen B (sorry, Bey) has started to transform right before our eyes — almost unsettlingly so.
Plastic surgery rumors started swirling in March 2012, and the speculation has persisted ever since. A simple scroll through the Biggie protégé's timeline will show you how, over time, her skin has gotten noticeably fairer, her nose pointier, her cheekbones higher, and her hair an increasingly lighter shade of blond. Fans of the artist have also recognized the shift in her looks — and many have raised concerns about the change in her skin tone, specifically. "Girrll didn't you get the memo? Black girls rock!" one Instagram user commented. "I guess all the years of black struggles has led to a huge tub of skin bleach," another lamented. Other fans have come to her defense. "Lil Kim deserves words of positivity. She needs love, support and understanding, not shame and judgement," one Twitter user wrote. Many are concerned that the outward changes are reflective of an inner battle — one that Lil' Kim has long suffered. "I have low self-esteem and I always have," she stated, heartbreakingly, in an interview with Newsweek in 2000. "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." If she's finally happy with how she looks, who is anyone to judge? It's clear she doesn't care what you, we, or anyone else thinks, either way.