If given money, is there something about yourself that you would change? Would you switch your hair color? Straighten your teeth? Perhaps make yourself a little bit taller? When asked by an uber driver if she would bleach her skin for $10,000, Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech, a.k.a. The “Queen of Dark” responded with a deep belly laugh.
“You won’t believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin.” She writes on Instagram.
Shedding Light on the “Queen of Dark”
Taking the world by storm with 313,000 Instagram followers, 24-year-old Nyakim Gatwech has appeared on the cover of international magazines and is using her fame to inspire self-love, self-acceptance, and diversity.
In an industry saturated with images of milky-white skin, Gatwech has overcome many obstacles to get to where she is today. She is a beacon of hope for people around the world, a reminder that no matter what, we must love ourselves above all else.
Your a diamond my black diamond u can attract any one from a distant… u have this inner glow that no one can miss???? ? @isaacwest Styled by @ee____________ ? @queenkim_nyakim #slefloveisthebestlove❤️ #melaningoddess✨? #melaninpoppin?❤️✨ #myblackisbeautiful? #queenofdark???? #nuergirlbeauty???? #southsudanesebeauty???????? #nubianqueen?? #africanqueen?? #blackexcellence #blackgirlmagic?✨ #chocolate? #thedarkertheberrythesweeterthejuice?
“Black is not a color of sadness or death or evil it’s just the way it has been portraying for so many years. So I am the queen of the dark who bring light and love to those around me” she shares on her Instagram account.
From Victim to Victor
Despite her current fame and influence, Gatwech didn’t always have it easy. Gatwech herself states that she didn’t have a problem with the way she looked until she moved to the United States, and realized that she looked different from the other students. According to an article on Yahoo Beauty, she was bullied in school and was told things like “You black as hell, take a shower”.
Of this, she says: “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”.
#WCW✨? me myself and I "Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Harvey Fierstein Stand up tall for what you believe in?????? ? @piokky ? @miss__aude @audeswim #longlegadontcare❤️ #africanqueen?? #confideniskey??#melaningoddess?? #melaninpoppin?❤️✨ #chocolate? #southsudanesebeauty???????? #nubianqueen????#nuerbeauty?????? #queenofdark????
She is not alone in this way of thinking. Many South Sudanese men and women have dark complexions and have been victimized throughout decades of civil war between the Arab, Muslim north and the African, Christian south. The split between north and south Sudan only polarised the different ethnic groups in Sudan, and President Bashir’s focus on “Arabisation” and Arab Supremacy has increased the popularity of skin bleaching creams.
In a study by A.E. Ahmed and M.E. Hamid at the University of Gezira, 348 undergraduate females between the ages of 16-33 were surveyed regarding the use of skin whitening products, and a shocking 74.4% reported using bleaching products within the past year.
This is the kind of pressure that Gatwech has faced throughout her life, yet she is still determined to remain true to herself. Currently living in Minneapolis, the Queen is redefining traditional beauty stereotypes and helping to carve out a world in which children of all colors, cultures, and nationalities can feel accepted and beautiful in their own skin.
Spreading Love and Diversity
“Self-love and acceptance are so important! We need to teach young girls to love themselves because at the end of the day no is going to love you as much as you love yourself”
And that is exactly what Gatwech has been doing. Through her booming modeling career and her her hugely successful Instagram account, she has been able to reach an audience of millions worldwide to spread her message of self-love. She truly has the ability to touch everyone, regardless of origin or skin color.
Gatwech speaks from the heart to each of her followers when she wrote: “We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. My hope is that this post can remind you every day of why you should be proud of your melanin. Why you should be proud of your heritage regardless of how light or dark your skin is. Stop comparing your skin [to] anyone. Change can only happen once you can truthfully look in the mirror and love that Deep Chocolate, Cinnamon, Mocha, or Caramel complexion.”
What I experience growing up wasn't racism it was Colourism.. Colourism is not racism. It's defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically from people of the same ethnic or racial group. Often, light skinned people are deemed more attractive, more successful and smarter than dark skinned people. Can you imagine something like this exist? How on earth can someone think a person is not successful or smart because of the color or their skin? ? @createdbyalvan ? @sumaya_keynan #myblackisbeautiful? #melaningoddess?❤️ #melaninpoppin?❤️✨ #slefloveisthebestlove #queenofdark???? #chocolate? #confidenceiskey? #nuergirlbeauty???? #southsudanesebeauty?????????? #blackgirlmagic? #iamablackgirlwhorock✊? #blackexcellence??
While this is the story of Nyakim Gatwech, it is also the story of you. We all feel insecure in one way or another. We have all overcome obstacles and experiences that make us feel “different”, and we can always benefit from loving ourselves more. Embrace your quirks. Cherish your lopsided smile and the cowlick in your hair. Follow in the footsteps of Nyakim Gatwech, the “Queen of Dark”, and laugh in the face of adversity, and look very good while doing it.
 Jacqueline Laurean Yates. (April 5, 2017). Dark-Skinned Model Gives Her Uber Driver a Reality Check: ‘Beautiful Melanin’ is ‘a Blessing’. Retrieved on September 11, 2017 from https://sg3.www.yahoo.com/beauty/dark-skinned-model-gives-uber-driver-reality-check-beautiful-melanin-blessing-173425262.html
 BBC News Associates. (March 18, 2017). Letter from Africa: Sudanese Fight for Their African Identity. Retrieved on September 11, 2017 from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39619976
 A.E. Ahmed, M.E. Hamid. (April 4, 2017). Use of Skin-Whitening Products by Sudanese Undergraduate Females: a Survey. Retrieved on September 11, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26936463