The transformation of NeNe Leakes is turning heads

NeNe Leakes is no stranger to making headlines. Since her debut on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta back in 2008, she’s become reality TV royalty. The television personality also branched out as an actress (you might recall her stint on Glee), an author, and an entrepreneur — all thanks to her “outspoken, no-nonsense demeanor,” as Bravo puts it. But while that tell-it-like-it-is attitude has garnered her a loyal following, it’s also inspired plenty of feuds and made countless headlines — like the time she got into a physical fight with a cameraman during Season 10 or shaded all of her co-stars with a single Instagram post in Season 12. 

It’s not just her comments that have turned heads, though. Since 2010, Leakes has also received plenty of attention (and even more criticism) for changes in her appearance. Always outspoken and a firm believer in telling the truth, she’s confessed to a multitude of surgeries and procedures and has no plans of stopping. Let’s take a closer look at the transformation of NeNe Leakes.

NeNe Leakes got three surgeries at once

In 2010, NeNe Leakes opted to get not one, not two, but three procedures done at the same time. While speaking with People, she admitted to getting a nose job to make her nostrils smaller, a breast lift and augmentation that downsized her implants from a DD to a D, and liposuction on her waist. Explaining her reasoning for the procedures, which were carried out simultaneously that April, the reality TV star noted, “I’m very comfortable and confident in myself — I just wanted a tune up.” Leakes continued, “I still wanted to look like NeNe, the black woman that I am, but a better version.”

Unfortunately, it seems the upgrade wasn’t quite subtle enough. As Essence noted, the “blogosphere was already abuzz” with talk of plastic surgeries months before she confirmed it — and it wasn’t positive buzz. According to Hollywood Life, Leakes received “a lot of negative feedback” because, as she herself explained, critics found her new look to be too “plastic.” 

She did her nose… again

Six years after her first rhinoplasty, NeNe Leakes got her nose done a second time. During a 2016 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, she told host Andy Cohen that, just two weeks prior, she had decided to return under the knife to fix certain aspects not tackled by her initial surgery. 

“Yes, I had my nose done again,” she admitted (via The Daily Dish), noting there “was a real medical reason” for the follow-up surgery. As she explained, “My cartilage was growing in my nose, and my tip was touching the top of my lip.” The Bravo star continued, “I didn’t get a full rhinoplasty the first time. No, when I did the first time, I only had my nostrils taken in on the side the very first time, and then this time, I had more cartilage moved around in my nose.” 

Leakes concluded by revealing her motivation, saying, “It was because I didn’t love my nose, and I wanted to do my nose to make it more beautiful for myself.” Not that she felt the need to justify herself: “I got my nose done, first of all, because I can and I will, and I will get it done again if I want to, OK?” Hey, you do you, NeNe!

NeNe Leakes loves filler and makeup

In addition to being open to going under the knife to alter her appearance, NeNe Leakes is also a big fan of non-invasive alternatives and a major proponent of the power of makeup. In 2018, The Lookbook asked the star about her latest procedures, and while she said she was focusing on makeup instead — “I just tried makeup: NARS foundation” — Leakes did admit to being game for more, with one condition: “Anything new that I could do that we ain’t gotta be put to sleep, I’m here for it.”

Leakes went on to elaborate, “I know everybody knows fillers and Botox, but there’s all kinds of laser treatments you could just do to your skin, just a lot of stuff to stay looking great and I would like to try every last one of them.” Justifying her love of cosmetic surgery, she added, “I just think there’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself up and looking great.”

She's open (and proud) about her transformation

While countless celebs try to downplay or completely shut down plastic surgery rumors, NeNe Leakes is an open book. In fact, she’s proud of her choices and isn’t afraid to share them on her show, across social media, and beyond. But when fans accused her of secretly getting more surgeries than she had admitted to, the reality star unleashed a tirade. 

It all started in July 2018, when Leakes shared a new makeup and hair look on Instagram, and one follower commented, “You look like plastic. Please no more plastic surgery” (via the Atlanta Black Star). The problem was, Leakes apparently didn’t have any more plastic surgery and wasn’t about to be called a liar. Furious, she clapped back, “You crazy b**ch! I work daily! When do I have time for surgery?” Leakes continued, “I’m the type of b**ch that will tell you what I have done and when! Stop with the s**t!” It didn’t end there, however, as Leakes concluded on even more savage note, writing, “Get the f**k off my page monster and get you some surgery with yo busted a**.”

NeNe Leakes went on a pescatarian weight loss journey

In August 2019, NeNe Leakes opened up about her latest transformation at the time: her waistline. This time around, it had nothing to do with a visit to the doctor’s office, but rather with a lifestyle change. While speaking with Hollywood Life, Leakes shared how she shed 12 pounds and lost an entire dress size, simply by changing her diet.

Drawing inspiration from her husband, who had battled cancer, Leakes decided that she and her beau would actively work to get healthier — one small step at a time. As she revealed, “I’m not doing anything crazy, like doing the elliptical or riding the bike or running. I started being a pescatarian and he was plant-based, so I started there. It did help me and I felt different.” The TV star added, “I lost a couple of pounds.” 

Leakes’ ultimate goal was to lose 20 pounds, and she went on to credit smaller portion sizes — “I eat about four times a day” — and a snacking hack as the keys to her success. Admitting that chips are her guiltiest pleasure, she told the outlet, “I could eat a little bit and then I’d throw it in the trash can. I always say to myself, ‘I’m not going through the trash can to get it out and eat it,’ so I’d bite it and then I’d throw it in the trash. So I could just satisfy myself a little bit.”  

Fans were not feeling her new look in 2019

This Real Housewives star may be feeling herself, but NeNe Leakes’ new look had rubbed a lot of her followers the wrong way by 2019. Just scroll through her social media posts, and you’ll soon spot countless critics calling out her overhauled appearance. 

In June 2019, for example, she was slammed for supposedly getting a third nose job in the comments section of an Instagram snap. “Damn, did she get another nose job?” one follower asked (via the Atlanta Black Star), while another questioned, “What’s wrong with the top of her lip and nose? And don’t say it’s contour for the idiots…I do makeup!”

At the time of this writing, Leakes has not commented on this speculation. However, in November 2019, the snarky comments piled up again, this time regarding a photo of herself with blonde hair and what appeared to be a lot of makeup or an intense filter. While one person asked, “Who is this?” another wrote, “Nene this don’t even look like you.”

NeNe Leakes has got her eye on more plastic surgery

If there’s one thing NeNe Leakes doesn’t pay attention to, it’s her haters. Despite the negative feedback she’s received for getting so much work done, she revealed on The Wendy Williams Show in September 2019 that she’s totally open to more. 

When Williams asked if there were more procedures she’d like to try, Leakes didn’t miss a beat, proclaiming, “Oh yes! Lots of things!” Breaking down her wish list, she admitted, “I would do my boobs again, like keep my implants and move my tissue around.” She’d also “tweak [her] nose again.” And while the reality star wouldn’t agree to a face lift (“I feel like that’s too much) or Botox (“[I won’t do it] because I’m an actress, so I’ve got to be able to move [my face] around”), she pondered butt implants before changing her mind: “No, I don’t like that. I got hips, [and I feel like I’d] look like a wide truck.”

Leakes concluded by encouraging others to embrace surgery, telling the audience, “If you need a nip and tuck, please go and get it.” The Real Housewives of Atlanta star added, “Forget what they got to say, they just mad they can’t afford it, girl.”

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