Nicki Minaj gets a dramatic make-under for her Elle cover: love it or hate it?

Completely, Totally 100% All-Natural (On Her Face) Nicki Minaj covers the new issue of Elle Magazine. This is the most subdued Minaj photo shoot I think I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of nice, right? I heard a rumor a few weeks ago that Minaj fired her entire glam squad because she wants her new image to be more “natural”. And that includes public proclamations of how she’s never, ever had plastic surgery (on her FACE). Which is BS. But I digress. Anyway, against my better judgment, I’m into this Elle shoot. And Nicki’s interview excerpts seem decent too:

On her dramatic make-under for her ELLE photo shoot:
“When I saw myself with barely any makeup at, it was such a… like, I’m so, so attached to my pink lipstick, it’s hard. I feel that it’s become a part of me. To go in front of the camera, without pink lips or big ol’ crazy lashes- you know, nothing – I felt naked. It was scary! So this photo shoot was a real accomplishment in my eyes.”

On experiencing bullying in school as a child:
“I went through a lot of bullying early on. Girls made my life a living hell. We had come to America from a different country. My brother and I had accents. It was very tough. So I’ve always put up this wall – it was a self-defense mechanism growing up – because I was almost expecting people to attack me. And I still have it. It’s sad.”

Her advice for women on how to command respect:
“My advice to women in general: Even if you’re doing a nine-to-five job, treat yourself like a boss. Not arrogant, but be sure of what you want- and don’t allow people to run anything for you without your knowledge. You want everyone to know, Okay, I can’t play games with her. I have to do right by this woman. That’s what it’s all about.”

On her plans for world domination:
“My goal in the beginning was to buy my mother a house. Now I realize, Okay, if I really focus and become a key player in business, then I can build an empire. I’m thinking of a legacy that I can be proud of and wealth that my grandchildren can use to go to college. So world domination- in terms of providing for my family – is absolutely my goal.”

[From Elle]

I rolled my eyes at the thing about her makeunder being a “real accomplishment.” Gurl, STOP. As for the bullying… I suspect she’s telling the truth, just because I think Nicki does seem to approach the world with a chip on her shoulder, and that chip comes from everyone telling her she couldn’t do that or she wasn’t good enough when she was younger. I know everyone cries about being bullied these days, but in Minaj’s case, I think she probably was.

Also: I DO need to start treating myself like a boss. She makes a good point.

Photos courtesy of Thomas Whiteside/Elle.

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119 Responses to “Nicki Minaj gets a dramatic make-under for her Elle cover: love it or hate it?”

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  1. Legal Annie says:

    I really can’t stand her. Her music is just meh and she has no respect for her peers.

  2. gee says:

    A catchy song or two is not enough to make me like her. She has a crap personality.

  3. Auruor says:



    At least she’s not posing like a blow-up doll?

  4. lem says:

    i actually believe that she hasn’t had work done on her face. and she looks SOOOO MUCH better with this “make under”

    • Jenny says:

      Oh yeah, I am loving her “all natural” look. Lmao. She is wearing less makeup than usual, but still more makeup than I generally feel comfortable wearing in public.

      If you see pics of her before fame she looks like a completely different person. No way she has not done something to her face, nose in particular.

      • lem says:

        oh i fully agree she’s got a boatload of makeup on still. but it’s not blue lips and crazy ridiculous fake eyelashes (although she could still have on falsies– they’re just more subdued).

        i have a really hard time seeing the nose job but that’s probably b/c i do nose contouring on myself (can’t afford a nose job) and i really think she just contours the shit out of it. i don’t see that much different about the structure of her face. just a lot of makeup to change angles and what not.

        as for the rest of her body, she’s had a ton of work done.

  5. Rachey says:

    I am getting so annoyed with all these celebrities who claim to be “all natural” in pictures when it is more than obvious they have make up on….Nicki is wearing mascara, lipstick, eyeshadow, and much more. Just admit it, you look just like the rest of us when your bare faced.

  6. doofus says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard one of her songs, but I think she looks WORLDS better here than she usually does.

  7. TheOriginalKitten says:

    “this photo is a real accomplishment in my life”

    Yeah, an “accomplishment”…that statement speaks volumes about Minaj’s career resume.

    On another note-she looks a million times better without all that crap.

  8. AmandaPanda says:

    sorry, the only type of “bare faced” this woman is is a liar

  9. poofy says:

    She looks like Mrs. Potato Head with full make up on.

  10. RN says:

    So now wearing little makeup is an “accomplishment”? In that case, I’m ruling the world!

    I strongly dislike this woman’s so-called “music”. When my kids have their radio station on and one of her songs comes on, I have to quickly turn the channel. SMH – it takes so little talent to achieve notoriety these days in the US.

  11. HouseOfBeatrix says:

    I thought the headline said no wigs.

  12. booboochile says:

    if all that corpsey make up, the drunken llama eyelashes, the goat contact lenses is what they are calling natural..I clearly need to start drinking and look at this picture again, because damn!

  13. Debbie says:

    I know almost nothing about her or her music or anything outside an occasional mention on celeb sites, but … I definitely prefer this Nicki to the normal cartoon Nicki.

  14. Jordan says:

    I’ve never been a fan of Nicki’s, music or personality wise, but I like the answers she gave here and she looks goregeous in the 2nd pic.

    Oan, she’s said she’s never had work done on her face? She’s definitely had a nose job.

  15. Jazz Fabulous says:

    Why are women of color always so obsesesed with blonde hair? It would be nice if she can actually go ALL NATURAL and go with her black hair instead of that nasty, ugly, ratty fake blonde hair.

    • A says:

      By “Women of color”, do you mean Nicki and Beyonce?
      I don’t see how WOC are “obsessed” with blond hair, and furthermore, if they want to dye it’s their right. Do you say the same when white women dye their hair black? Just let them be, it’s their schtick and has been from the very beginning. In other words, it’s nothing new.

      • mushroom says:

        I get your point but you need to put that ”white people/ black hair” part on hold and travel to Europe to see some things with your own eyes. Because I’m (south) european and I got black hair. A LOT of europeans have black hair. I found your comment offensive because I’m tired of that sterotype mentality. But I don’t blame you, I blame the entertainment.

        PS. English is only my 3rd language but I hope I made a point! :)

      • A says:

        mushroom – I should have been more specific when I used the term ‘white’.

        As you know, there was a time when Italians, Spanish, heck even Irish, were not considered ‘white’. I won’t be too surprised when Asians get included in the ‘white’ label sometime very soon.
        So when I wrote ‘white’, I meant a certain type of ‘white’. Anglos, Northern Europeans etc.

      • mushroom says:

        I’m neither spanish nor italian. And I happen to live in North E. and not everything is blond and blue-eyed, you’d be surprised. Every day I read somewhere that black comes in all shades, but whites are only germans and anglos? Like I said, travelling would do you good.
        And I’m going to ignore your Asian comment because it’s the most ignorant thing I’ve heard in a while.

      • A says:

        mushroom – I didn’t say you were Spanish or Italian. I don’t need to travel. I am not American. I didn’t want to get into specifics so I left out where I am from on purpose.
        You’d be surprised which country I am from.
        I know exactly what I am talking about, and it’s not dark brown hair. I am talking about black/raven hair with no shade of brown.
        As for your last comment, I think you’ve misunderstood what I wrote so I won’t even get into that. It’s about history when it comes to the ‘white’ label and how that has stretched overtime.
        Take care.

    • Miss Kiki says:

      WOC are always obsessed with blonde hair? sh*t guys I didn’t get the memo!

      *sobs into dark hair*

    • Thischica says:

      I know PLENTY of black women who do not wear blonde hair. I am a black woman and I have never dyed my hair blonde. Neither has my mother, sister, and best friend. Please don’t make sweeping generalizations based on the few that are in the public eye.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      As a white chick, why did I spend my twenties tanning? I also have dark hair and dyed it blonde for most of my twenties.

      Black women have EVERY right to dye their haircolor and it has nothing to do with wanting to be another race. As females, it’s our prerogative to play around with our appearances. It’s fun, goddammit!

    • menlisa says:

      As a black woman I wear blonde hair sometimes it doesn’t mean I’m not proud to be Black, I’m damn proud of being a Black woman.
      If I want to dye my hair blonde I sure as hell will.

      Do you say the same thing when a brunette dyes their hair blonde?

      Didn’t think so.

    • vvvoid says:


      Ummm, plenty of N. Euros have dark dark brown close to black if not jet black hair. Especially Norwegians. I am part Choctaw so my hair is black, but there are PLENTY of pure N. Euros with hair just like mine.
      Blondism, like blue eyes, is a genetic mutation that sprang up relatively recently in human history, expressed most commonly in European phenotypes, but blonde hair has even been linked to ancient China.

  16. E says:

    I really don’t like her music and I’m meh on her in interviews, but I prefer this make under.

    But seriously, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH.

  17. Dawn says:

    Ummm….she is better than KK because she has some talent as a singer (KK has absolutely no talent for anything but taking photos of herself) and she is on a REAL television show but other than that I hate it.

  18. Kiddo says:

    The first and third photos look like someone photoshopped her head on that body. The head looks disproportionately large on the last one, compared to the center photo where it seems normal. Really odd. It looks as though they used the same face shot in both pix. Same expression, except for a slight angle in the third?

  19. Apsutter says:

    *Hate her, fixed it for ya lol. What kind of life is this woman living if her idea of an accomplishment is to be photographed with barely any makeup?

  20. southernbell317 says:

    this is the BEST I’ve EVER seen her look

  21. Miss Kiki says:

    Seeing her here without her the clown make-up I’m actually inclined to believe that she hasn’t had any work done on her face.

  22. Runs with Scissors says:

    When will women STOP posing with their mouths hanging open like idiots?

    Is that supposed to look sexy?

  23. Darlene says:

    I think she looks great. She should do this more often.

  24. Stubbylove says:

    She is gorgeous w/o all the hype makeup and idiotic outfits. She has a beautiful facial structure. But she’s such a stupid bitch, I just can’t go there with anything else.

  25. mel says:

    I don’t think she is stupid at all. Anyone who makes it the entertainment business is usually pretty savvy. I love her treat yourself like a boss statement. So true.

  26. flutters says:

    Definitely a major improvement.

    I can’t at her showing up late for yesterday’s Idol show though. Unprofessional to say the least.

  27. bluecalling says:

    i believe her about the face, her nose still has the same twist it did when she was a teen, and your nose (and ears) change over time (it starts to fit your face and then may grow in old age).

    in this she sounds quite… normal.

    but for reals, being an immigrant kid-teen and getting bullied – that i have experienced and totally believe.

  28. Sweet Dee says:

    To be fair, this makes her a better feminist than Stephenie Meyers.

  29. NeoCleo says:

    She’s still wearing far more make up for this “makeunder” than I do when I put the stuff on. WHEN. My usual routine is to slap on moisturizer, sunscreen and lip gloss.

    Yes, I’m a plain Jane. Always have been, always will be. I’ve tried doing the daily grind with makeup and it’s just too much trouble. Fortunately I have a husband who hates makeup and prefers my face naked.

    • Lady D says:

      I too am a plain Jane. I needed years of therapy just to be able to look people in the eye when talking to them. I was convinced (thanks to my mom) that I was very, very ugly. It was a real struggle to like my looks, so I avoid makeup. I do wear it, but it’s rare. I just like the way I look now. I’m not married and I doubt I ever will be. I haven’t been able to overcome keeping people at a distance yet. Working on it.

      • Lady D says:

        I meant to add, if and when I do get married it will be to someone who likes my natural looks. Didn’t realize it was important to me until I read your post NeoCleo.

      • Sweet Dee says:

        Simplicity is beautiful, ladies. You show the world your real faces without insecurity or fear, because you know you are more than your appearances. Good for you both.

        Plus, a low-maintenance look saves a ton of time every day! Men love that ;)

      • boo says:

        Lady D I used to wear a lot of makeup in my 20′s and 30′s. I had a routine every morning where I would sit in my tiny little apartment at the breakfast table and get my poor girl’s latte (microwaved low fat milk with instant coffee) and proceed to put on my face. I took at least an hour after taking my usual shower! I don’t know what I was thinking about to do this every single day. Now I wash my face, brush my teeth, put on my spf and some gloss and I’m good to go! With age comes wisdom and acceptance I guess.

    • Bijlee says:

      Another plain Jane consigning everything. I’m lucky if I do my eyebrows at the time I need to…I usually let them grow like weeds…which I shouldnt because I have a unibrow. I only take care of my skin because I don’t like blemishes and it means you have to wear less makeup if you have good skin and I have phobias about skin cancer, so I protect myself from the sun. I’m nowhere near the prettiest girl in my school or my town.

      I wanted to be the most beautiful woman in the world once ala aishwarya rai, but dang it takes a lot of work. I’m plain and happy with it. If I wanna feel beautiful I just take off my glasses before I look in the mirror. Lol my vision blurs all the spots in my skin making it look clear and smooth. Nothing like seeing your blurry reflection to realize how attractive you are.

  30. truthful says:

    Everyone in the public eye is all natural and they were bullied.
    (rolls eyes)

    the way she let her boyfriend talk to Cher on twitter, I’ll never respect her, yes, she could have told him to stop, she is the MONEY in the relationship and I do not even remember an apology.

  31. Happy21 says:

    I think she is plastic – face and body and I’m not a big fan. I can’t stand her really. A few of her songs get me going at the gym but other than that, meh.

    However, her answers to the questions (excluding the stupid being photographed with less make-up was an accomplishment) are great.

  32. TheOneAndOnlyOnly says:

    Good one amandapanda; I’m glad i lived through the 80s/90s when they put real supermodels (Yasmeen Ghauri in a potato sack looks better than all the tryhards) on the covers not specimens like this talentless muppet whose “music” is as esmon said;
    Funny, no one has mentioned that she has been trashed on other sites as one main reason AI’s ratings are down – much of the public can’t stand this clown, her stupid costumes, or her stupid voice.

  33. Simple Red says:

    I’ll give her this… I like this better than all her looks put together

    Anything else mute to me

  34. j.eyre says:

    I think her songs are fun to run to. ‘Whip It’ always energizes me. I don’t think she is Brahms but I don’t exercise to Brahms much.

    She came across as silly in the one interview I saw her, but in keeping with her over-the-top image. I was impressed that she stopped jokey conversation stream to mention make a mild statement against drug use. Again, I don’t go to her for deep thoughts.

    All that said, I kind of love these shots of her (that face shirt creeps me out, however) and I really like what she says about being a boss and not letting people make decisions for you without you knowing. I don’t think I am ever going to hold her up as a role model, but I may actually read an article on her now – there might be more meat on her bones than I gave her credit for.

  35. Jm says:

    She is still heavily made up, just in more natural tones i/s of the clown makueup. And still has the fake colored contacts – ugh.

    Congrats on her success but that doesn’t mean I have to like her.

  36. OriginallyBlue says:

    I can believe she was bullied about her accent when she was a kid. Same thing happened to me, even my teachers had a problem with it, sent a letter home to my mom complaining about it and how fast I talked and asking her to help me stop. So messed up. I lost my accent after about a month.

  37. skuddles says:

    She still looks fake and rough.

  38. Helvetica says:

    She still looks cheap. Very trashy-looking girl.

  39. guilty pleasures says:

    I think she is adorable and funny on Idol. Mariah was a snoozefest till recently, and Randy’s ‘IN IT TO WIN IT’ makes me want to punch him! Keith is cute…
    Back to Nicki, again, I think she is cute, her music is not really my cup of tea, but I am not her demographic. A couple of her songs are fun, she is harmless.
    Why the hate? She’s a success in a very tough world. Good for her.

    • Lee says:

      Thank you!!! There’s so much hate here for her, and I’m quite baffled. She’s a fun and incisive breath of fresh air on Idol. I’m definitely not her demographic either, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a woman making it in a tough business. I hope she doesn’t read these comments – most are very mean-spirited and kind of nasty, and as far as I know, she hasn’t done anything to warrant that.

    • Nicolette says:

      Agreed. I don’t really know her music, and was surprised when she was picked as a judge. She just didn’t have the goods to back it up like Mariah, who has had a long and successful career. But I must admit I am pleasantly surprised by her, most often agree with her critiques, and feel she was very engaging during the auditions. She was friendly to those auditioning, smiled a lot, and made an effort to chat with them all, even giving several nick names. I like her, and I think she looks great in the photo shoot.

  40. Nev says:


    hotter and more fashion than any recent Vogue cover, I will say that for sure!!!

  41. RHONYC says:

    Nic IS gorgeous. her published high school grad pic shows those are her natural features. beautiful skin as well…her ‘Right through me’ video makes me wanna exfoliate everytime! ;-)

    my take on getting rid of her BRILLIANT wig master Terrence was a mistake ’cause it was b/c of those very looks she had my attention and now I haven’t been checking for her in some time.

    when you create a presence in the industry through a certain style, to draw back from that may come off as a bit boring. i dunno? :?

    on the whole bullying thing:

    i actually FORGET that i got my ass kicked like crazy in grades 3-8… boys AND girls. i guess my generation doesn’t call it the B word and whine about it so much. it ended in 9th grade when i had a ‘SATC Carrie/Balzac hostess ladies room moment’ with the school bully who helped me find my inner Xena. then the same year a friend tried to meangirl me and talk sh*t on my mama, so I obliged her by slamming her head in the concrete wall outside of English class (which was done to me in 3rd grade come to think of it). guess things do come full circle.

    ahhhh. good times. :-)

    • boo says:

      RHONYC yeah I got bullied too, I don’t know if they did call it that back in the day. I didn’t speak very good English and was the ONLY Hispanic person at this school, the kids called me all kinds of foul names and wouldn’t let me play with them. I wanted to kick their butts but never got the chance, I got over it, kids are mean and I learned a lesson, don’t back down no matter what, and I didn’t.

  42. Mew says:

    She looks so much better without being painted clown. I guess she’s just really insecure if she feels she needs a mask to walk out in public.

  43. Daahling says:

    HAHAHA Oh, Nicky. You look horrible. Like Paris Hilton from Simple Life era. If the photographer’s goal was to capture a dead mermaid, well done. Bleck!

  44. Gemini08 says:

    I do live my life like a boss and she’s absolutely right about that.

  45. NEENAZEE says:

    I’m not a huge fan of the over-produced pop sound that’s everywhere these days, so I’ve never really followed her music… tho, I must admit, I really liked her contribution to Kanye’s Monster. Anyway, I was getting sick of the cartoon character aesthetic she was promoting so this is a very welcome change. She’s exotically gorgeous. And fairly articulate about her issues, concerns, desires. Strong women are a good thing for society… I hope she reaches her dream and pulls lots of other women along with her!

  46. mushroom says:

    What’s with these hair comments? Nickis father is indian, she has indian curls. Google is your friend.

    Not a fan of her but I must say that she’s one helluva beautiful woman.

  47. mkyarwood says:

    AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! No. No face shirts. NO! Bad!

  48. NeNe says:

    I cannot stand her music, that is, if you can call it music. However, I must say that she looks amazing. What a huge improvement.

  49. vanessaw says:

    She looks amazing and I want that tanktop

  50. silver says:

    eh, she still looks like trash.

  51. lisa says:

    I’m sorry, but does nobody else notice that she has the exact same face in the first image (cover) and last image? Like they literally copied & photoshopped her face onto another picture of her.

    Look at her hair at the right side of her face, it’s the giveaway. Especially since there’s the same little wisp of hair above her lip on the right.

    She looks a lot prettier than when she has her multi-colored neon makeup, but it’s pretty lazy for the magazine to do that instead of using totally different images.

  52. Diana says:

    Rude No Class Insensitive
    Needs that makeup to look trashy.

  53. Kosmos says:

    She turns me off big time, especially after seeing her up front and close on American Idol this season, what a mess! Yes, she looks better with less makeup, but her off the wall comments and tacky unprofessionalism on Idol is really gross, so I’m just not a fan, sorry. They need to get her off the show, never pay her again to be on Idol or any other show. Mariah, on the other hand, has been very courteous and professional, as have all the other judges.

  54. erika says:

    hate it….

    not the cover. Nick

  55. Lexi says:

    She looks better than she does with her crazy hair and makeup

  56. lisa2 says:

    I don’t care if I’m in the minority. I like her. I like a lot of things about her. I don’t like the crazy makeup, that it is her thing so go for it.

    I think she is actually one of the best judges on American Idol. Her and Keith. Mariah bores me to sleep. I think Nicki gives some good and crazy advice at the same time.

    She looks pretty in that shoot. I find it so funny the women some here call gorgeous and beautiful and stunning when they are NOT. She is very pretty to me. She has an unusual look and I like that.

    oK..slam me now.. LOL :)

  57. dee says:

    I love it. I love all the people who have their magnifying glass ready to manufacture any reason why her hair is fake. Simply acknowledge that you subconsciously think black women can’t grow long hair instead of hiding behind a wisp theory. ”oh look,a strand is out place 10mm from her edges and this patch of hair is a different texture than this one.I call fake.”

    If anything Minaj actually ruined her hair with constant dying and frying. I used to see home girl in the clubs before she got famous and her hair used to be a thick curly/wavy mass. Now it looks limp and lifeless.

    You can hate her for a lot of things but hating on her just because you have an outdated view of what black women’s hair looks like is idiotic. It doesn’t make you racist but it sure hell does make you ignorant.

    • Joanna says:

      @ Dee

      I think most people, like myself, didn’t think black women could grow long hair b/c you almost never see a black woman with long hair. not our outdated notions.

      • lisa2 says:


        I don’t know where you all live, but I see black women with LONG hair that is their natural hair every single day. My hair is or was very long until I cut it. I have never done a weave or hair extensions. I can grow my own but like it short.

        I think people must think that white women have this long and flowing hair too. Well HELLO.. many of them are wearing extension and additions. So all that flowing hair and whatever is all fake too.

        That coin flips on 2 sides.

      • Dee says:


        Actually you just proved my point. You said you “almost never see a black woman with long hair” when I think what you mean is “I never almost a see a black with long hair I believe is hers.” It’s because of people like you (no offense) that black women on youtube are so preoccupied about growing and showcasing long black hair of all types. It’s not because they’re obsessed (though some certainly are) but it’s a reaction to other people constantly telling them what “black hair” can and cannot do. I bet if Minaj had showed up with a thick dense giant afro the question of authenticity wouldn’t have been as much of an issue.

        I can point you to about 8 dozen women on youtube alone that would prove you wrong. The sample size of woc you and friends have come into contact with must be very small indeed. Just because you don’t care to notice and re-asses your outdated notions doesn’t mean they stand the test of common sense.

  58. ikoihil says:

    I don’t think she’s had surgery on her face. I also think she looks great with the natural looking makeup. It suits her beautifully.

  59. Maia says:

    girrrrrrl – you know she be wearing a weave there. you don’t actually expect us to believe that your real hair right? hahahaha

  60. Aud says:

    She looks better here than her usual ‘getup’ with pink lipstick and so on.

  61. Shelly says:

    I think she’s really beautiful, even when her makeup and hair are all crazy.

  62. SLL says:

    She still has the ugly blond hair color, but she looks pretty.