South Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech has been called the “Queen of the Dark” by her fans ever since she made headlines in March when she shared a story on Instagram that celebrated the dark tone of her skin. An Uber driver, she wrote in a caption, had asked her if she would bleach her skin for $10,000. Laughing in his face, she responded, “Why would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin?” The photo attached to the post featured herself and three other South Sudanese models, laughing and posing. She began the caption celebrating her country and the people in it, and after recounting the experience with the Uber driver, she ended the post with words of empowerment and the hashtag #melaninmonday.
Gatwech has nearly 300,000 followers on Instagram, which she has tactfully used as a platform to both showcase her modeling career and speak to a large audience about self-love, self-acceptance, diversity, heritage and the issue of colorism. Both before and after her anecdote with the Uber driver went viral, Gatwech has been extremely vocal about her pride in her skin color.
“Black is not the color of sadness or death or evil; [that’s] just the way it has been potray[ed] for so many years,” she has said on Instagram. “So I am the queen of the dark who bring[s] light and love to those around me.” Addressing her title of “Queen of the Dark,” given to her by her followers, Gatwech has said that she is a fan of the nickname, as there is nothing wrong with darkness and it should be celebrated.
The 24-year-old model, currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, typically concludes her captions with a number of empowering hashtags: #selfloveisthebestlove, #myblackisbeautiful, #melaningoddess, #nubiangoddess, and many more. Although she has personally felt prejudice against her for having very dark skin, Gatwech has made it clear that she is not only addressing those with skin as dark as hers—in a world with a history of colorism, she wants people with all different dark tones to feel self-love.
“We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go,” Gatwech has shared in another post. “My hope is that this post can remind you every day 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.”
In interviews, Gatwech has admitted that she faced a number of cruel reactions to her skin throughout her life from people telling her to “take a shower” to boys seeming to find her unattractive when she was younger. But with time, self-acceptance, and words of encouragement from others, Gatwech has grown into the confident model and spokeswoman she is now, who hopes to inspire that same self-love in others.
You can follow this inspirational and gorgeous woman on Instagram at @queenkim_nyakim.
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