May 08, 2000 12:00 PM

MTV’S ANANDA LEWIS DOESN’T WANT ANYONE GOING NEAR HER wavy, waist-length hair, “When someone touches it, tears just come,” she says. “I am so anal about my hair!” You can’t blame her. “Ananda didn’t have any hair until she was like 3 or 4—it was like bird fuzz on top of her head,” recalls her older sister Lakshmi, 28, a doctor in Chicago. “When she did finally start growing hair, I didn’t think she was supposed to have any. So I cut it off and put it in a Thermos!” Today, even though MTV’s stylists are at her beck and call, Lewis still does her own hair, relying on Bertoli olive oil as conditioner. “It’s so good, because it’s not greasy,” she claims. The 26-year-old veejay has other peculiar product picks too. “She only uses Dial antibacterial soap, and Bounty paper towels—and they have to be white!” her sister says with a laugh. “She’s very methodical about stuff.” Happily the 1995 cum laude grad of Howard University also knows how to relax, “When I’m at home, it’s all ponytail and no makeup,” says Lewis. She’s not home much, though: As host of the video show Hot Zone, she spends her evenings with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, the group *NSYNC and the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, who says, “The thing that makes Ananda so beautiful is her optimism.” Lewis attends so many parties that The New York Times recently named her “the hip hop generation’s reigning It Girl.” That’s a far better nickname than the one she had in high school. “I had such horrible skin that people used to call me Spot!” says Lewis, who was raised in San Diego by her divorced mom, Yvonne, 56, a retired account manager for Pacific Bell. (Her dad, Stanley, 60, is a computer-animation specialist.) By college the blemishes had disappeared, Says longtime friend Stephanie Elam, a financial editor: “Men have been throwing themselves at Ananda ever since I’ve known her.” Lewis has caught one man in particular who, she says, “is not in the music business.” Which suits her just fine. “How much he loves me,” she says, “makes me feel the most beautiful.”

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