Her dark skin now defines her in a positive way that she can't stop smiling about.
Nyakim Gatwech, a model from South Sudan, has an iconic skin tone that is making waves in the modeling industry and causing companies to question beauty ideals around the world. Despite the confidence that she radiates, both physically and verbally, her journey to self-love and acceptance hasn’t always been smooth.
Growing up in South Sudan, one would think that dark skin tones are more than acceptable, since the region is known for having a population of people with generally darker skin than most other Africans. South Sudan is extremely close to the equator, where the equatorial sun is harsh and stays directly overhead for most of the day. This results in darker skin tones because the people have evolved to allow for more absorption of sun rays. Nevertheless, Gatwech still experienced feelings of insecurity and being bullied because of her exceptionally dark color.
“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 told Yahoo! Beauty.
Even after embracing her skin tone and moving to the United States to become a model, for which she now receives critical acclaim internationally, Gatwech still experiences rude comments and questions about her skin from people of all shades. Recently, she took to her Instagram page to share a story with her followers in order to raise awareness about some of the things that people of color are told/asked and explain how she has overcome her insecurities.
“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?’,” she recalled in the Instagram post that shocked her followers.
“I couldn’t even respond I started laughing so hard. [Then] 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 said.
Today, Gatwech is called the “Queen of Dark” because of her exceptionally dark skin, which is especially evident when posing alongside other African models. She went from being told as a young woman that she was so black that she should “take a shower,” as though her skin tone could and should be washed away like dirt, to now wowing modeling agencies, photographers, fashion designers, consumers, and everyone in-between with her perfect complexion. She posted on Instagram about her new nickname and said that she is completely serious about her love for her tone, and why shouldn’t she be? Everyone should embrace their natural skin tone and the entire spectrum that their tone reaches, and Gatwech is no different.
“So my new nickname is Queen of the Dark and I love it I’m so thankful and grateful to all the amazing people showing me love and support and writing such powerful articles about me.. we are all beautiful in whatever shade of skin color God create us in. So why should the be dark bad? Embrace and love who you are and world would as well!! [sic],” Gatwech posted on Instagram.
Through her empowering photoshoots and social media posts, she is enlightening her followers on the ignorant people that she encounters on a daily basis in order to combat it while spreading self-love.