Nyakim Gatwech is a model from South Sudan living in Minnesota. Recently on Instagram, she shared a story about her dark skin. “I was [asked by] my uber driver the other day… ‘don’t take this offensive but if you were given 10 thousand dollars would you bleach your skin for that amount?’ I couldn’t even respond I started laughing so hard. Than he said so that a no and I was like hell to the f*king yeah that a no, why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God bless with me,” she wrote.
In the photo posted, Gatwech is pictured with three other models wearing white underpinnings with complexions similar to her own. Her caption continued with, “[Then] he said so you look at it as a blessing?” and she added, “…you won’t believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin.”
Gatwech tells Yahoo Beauty that she’s serious about seeing her dark skin as a blessing. “I love every part it. I love the fact my skin is unique and that my whole skin is one tone, and finally how soft my skin is,” she says.
Since immigrating to the United States, the Ethiopian-born model notes, many people have been confused by the color of her skin. She says she spotlighted her recent experience because these are the types of common questions she receives on a regular basis, and she felt the need to enlighten followers on this type of ignorance. “He was not the first to ask me that question” she says. “I feel the need to educate my peers on my skin color rather than not saying anything and having it anger me.”
Gatwech explains that the amazing love she has for her skin tone wasn’t always there but rather was something she had to build over time. Growing up, she was bullied in school for it, told things like, “You black as hell, take a shower.” She also recalls a time when a random man bet his friend $20 to ask her if she was wearing leggings or if her skin was really that dark. “There was a time in my life where I considered bleaching myself to avoid the dirty looks, the laughter, and for boys to find me attractive,” she admits.
But most of those insecure moments are behind Gatwech now, no doubt bolstered by the thousands of loyal followers and likes in response to the stunning model flicks she repeatedly shares on social media, highlighting her rich deep complexion. Also getting credit for boosting Gatwech’s self-confidence is her sister, who advised her, “The most satisfying feeling is when you are comfortable in your own skin and when you accept your beautiful dark, dark melanin.”
Although she’s been discriminated against by designers, makeup artists, and also fellow models, Gatwech feels empowered to keep pushing forward and reminding herself that, as she puts it, “All women are equal, and we should stand together rather than be against each other.” Further, she says, she has advice to share with younger black girls who may feel similarly conflicted about their skin: “You are beautiful, you are unique, and there are people who love you just the way you are. They say the darker the cherry, the sweeter the juice. Embrace your darkness!”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- This Black Model Was Told She Wasn’t Dark Enough to Wear an Afro
- The ‘Colored’ Girl Campaign: Meet the Women Behind This Self-Love Movement
- 9 Foundations for Dark Skin Tones to Upgrade Your Fall Makeup