At a time when skin bleaching is rising in popularity among black women who favour lighter skin tones, one woman is going against the tide and embracing her gorgeous dark skin. Sudanese-American fashion model Nyakim Gatwech is known primarily for her melanin-rich skin which has earned her the moniker, the “Queen of Dark”.
Nyakim Gatwech revealed that she grew up in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. However, when she immigrated to the United States of America at age 13, her dark skin made her a target for bullies. She experienced racism from bullies who ridiculed her dark skin. Some were even afraid to be near her. Apart from racism, Nyakim Gatwech also experienced colourism. Also known as shadeism, colourism is discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on skin colour.
Things improved for Nyakim when she moved to a Minnesota for high school where she was now learning with other children from Sudan and Somalia. However, the snide remarks still cropped up occasionally. Instead of letting this get her down, Nyakim used the discrimination to spur her and to start a career as a model. She revealed that she was completely shocked when some people suggested that she should bleach her skin.
She took to social media after one such encounter and wrote on Instagram,
“Why on earth would I bleach this beautiful melanin God [blessed] me with…you won’t believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin,”
The Instagram post went viral and got Nyakim interviews with Yahoo!, Teen Vogue and Huffington Post. Ever since she has been using the spotlight to promote diversity and give kids and teenagers the representation that she lacked as a young girl. She has been modelling since she was 17 and is now a vocal advocate for self-acceptance. In a recent interview, she said,
he negative reactions or comments don’t affect me as much now—some of them I laugh at. But there are some that go deep and bring me down for a little bit. Some people say I get followers because people feel bad for me, not because I’m actually beautiful. They say I’m the dumbest person ever. But there are millions more people who think I’m beautiful and give me positive feedback.
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