It costs a lot to look like Nicki Minaj. The 29-year-old rapper is as well-known for her Barbie-inspired costumes and cartoonish makeup as she is for her seven Top 20 songs -- and it's all a part of her act. Growing up in Queens, New York, the Trinidadian-born Minaj (born Onika Maraj) didn't have much money or style -- "I was dressing in Tommy Hilfiger baggy shirts and Boss jeans" -- but she did have big aspirations. After getting a makeover from a woman who she viewed as "larger than life" because she wore heels and "lots of makeup," Minaj made the transition from tomboy to the blueprint for what she is today. "I had never seen myself made up before," the "Super Bass" rapper tells Vogue in its March issue — in which she's painted blue and wearing a cotton candy-esque wig. "I didn't want to wash it off; I felt like I had one day to live this fantasy of being a glamour girl."
And she has most definitely made that a reality. Thanks to her success as an artist -- her debut album, 2010's Pink Friday, was nominated for four Grammys and won a Video Music Award and two American Music Awards -- Minaj has been able to indulge in all the things she never had growing up. When the money first started rolling in, she tells Vogue it was routine to drop $50,000 a month on "Giuseppe, Versace, YSL, and Fendi shoes. And I bought tons of Vuitton bags. When you're a young girl from Queens, you're going to stock up on those bags." Eventually, she discovered how to pair designer items "with other things." For example, during this particular interview she sported a custom-bejeweled jacket from the Versace for H&M line.
Now that she's achieved her dream of being one the biggest female rappers of all time, she wants to help other women realize their own goals. Minaj, who refers to her fans as her "little sisters," says she is planning "an enormous foundation to nurture girls. The Nicki Minaj girl is a fun, artsy girl who can become a fierce force to be reckoned with on Wall Street! They hang on my every word, so I tell them, go to school, be ambitious. The worst position is to be financially dependent on the man."
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