A Uber driver offered "Queen of the Dark" South Sudanese model, Nyakim Gatwech, $10,000 to breach her skin. Nyakim laughed off the offer. "Why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God blessed me with?" She asked.
Nyakim was born in Ethiopia where her parents had fled the South Sudanese civil war. The family then migrated to Kenya where they lived in refugee camps. They were later relocated to the US when she was 14.
Nyakim has been bullied several times due to her dark skin. People feel no shame telling her to bleach her skin, like the Uber driver who even offered her money to do it.
Colourism - prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone.
Not to be deterred, Nyakim took to social media to share her struggles and to inspire other dark-skinned women. She regularly posts photos with heartwarming captions about self-love and challenges the conventional beauty ideals that hold that "lighter is better".
According to the World Health Organisation, 40% of African women bleached their skin in 2011. In some countries, the figure is higher: 77% of women in Nigeria, 59% in Togo, 35% in South Africa, 27% in Senegal and 25% in Mali.
These products are not safe and can cause terrible side effects including cancer and liver and kidney damage. Most of the products are not even approved for this use but they are widely advertised, including on social media. Some African countries have banned some of the products.
Women especially face the harsher end of colorism. Apart from the endless bullying, light-skinned women are preferred over dark-skinned women for jobs. It is alleged that in the US, dark-skinned women get harsher sentences than their light-skinned counterparts.
While the world has a long way to go to getting rid of colorism, dark-skinned girls and women see themselves represented in the media through women like Nyakim.
We're all beautiful in whatever shade of skin colour God creates us in. - Nyakim Gatwech
Why should being dark be bad? Embrace who you are. - Nyakim Gatwech
Black is bold, black is beautiful, black is gold. Don't let American standards damage your African soul. - Nyakim Gatwech
I am the queen of the dark who brings light and love to those around me. - Nyakim Gatwech