Meet Nyakim Gatwec – a model nicknamed ‘Queen of the Dark’

A woman was utterly surprised when her Uber driver offered her an unsolicited tip on how to care for her remarkable skin.Celebrating her striking beauty, the fashion icon, famously known as the “Queen of the Dark,” responded with laughter, dismissing his remarks with ease.


Read on to discover what the Uber driver said and how she transformed the situation into a learning opportunity!Having spent her early years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, Nyakim Gatwech envisioned America as a “heaven on earth.”However, upon arriving in Buffalo at the age of 14, Gatwech found herself often alone, crying over the harsh judgments she faced due to her deeply pigmented skin.Based in Minnesota and originally from South Sudan, the model endured years of bullying for her radiant dark complexion, with comments like, “You don’t take showers. That’s why your skin is dirty,” or, “Smile so we can see you, Nyakim. We can’t see you.”

“In class, for example, the teacher would ask a question and say, ‘Oh, Nyakim, can you answer that?’ A kid would say, ‘Who are you talking to? We can’t see her. She’s not here.’ The whole class would start laughing, and I would just cry,” the now 31-year-old woman shares with Cosmopolitan.As a young girl desperate to fit in, it was tough when random men would bet on whether she was wearing leggings or if her skin was genuinely that dark.“At one point, I did consider [bleaching my skin]. When I came to America from a refugee camp in Africa [at age 14], I lived in Buffalo, New York. I would cry myself to sleep after being bullied [about my skin],” she says. “There are so many beautiful dark-skinned Sudanese women who bleach their skin.”Gatwech revealed that her own sister was among those who bleached their skin. “My own sister did it. But when I told her I wanted to [after living in America for a few months], she told me no. ‘I’m not going to let my daughter do it, or you, nobody.’”Queen of the Dark
Now hailed as the Queen of the Dark, this woman – who has faced discrimination from designers, makeup artists, and even fellow models – feels empowered by overcoming negativity.Gatwech’s confidence and profound love for her deep chocolatey skin are supported by her 962,000 loyal Instagram followers.


“My chocolate is elegant. So is what I represent… A nation of warriors,” she writes in one post.Fans are captivated by her striking beauty.“Omgggggg I love your skin and melanin,” one fan comments, while another says, “love your beautiful skin tone so much! God makes beautiful creations such as you to remind us of His magnificence!”Responding to the overwhelming support, Gatwech states, “I grew to learn to love myself… Now, I am not bothered by it [the negativity]. I accept my skin, I love myself, and I’m not insecure about my skin anymore. I don’t think I’m ugly anymore. I have confidence in myself.”‘Stupidest questions’
A few years ago, Gatwech recounts an encounter with an Uber driver who asked if she’d ever consider bleaching her unique skin.“He said, ‘Wow, you’re dark,’” Gatwech tells Cosmopolitan about her conversation with the driver. “I just laughed. I wanted to know why he thought I should. He said because life would be easier for me. It would be easier for me to be in a relationship, or guys would be more attracted to me if I was lighter. If I was going to a job interview, I would get the job opportunities because I’m lighter. I just said, ‘[Even if] being lighter would make my life easier, I’d rather take the [hard] road.’”She adds, “I’m accustomed to people asking the most absurd questions about my skin.”Gatwech then shared her story on Instagram, accompanied by a stunning photo of herself with three other dark-skinned Sudanese women.

She wrote, “A nation with people so dark you won’t believe your eyes… skin so rich and teeth so bright. Gosh, how I love my country, my people, and everything that comes with it.”She detailed her encounter with the Uber driver: “[SIC] I was asked by my Uber driver the other day, he said, ‘Don’t take this offensively, 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. Then he said, ‘So that’s a no?’ and I was like, ‘Hell to the f*cking yeah, that’s a no. Why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God blessed me with?’ Then he asked, ‘So you see it as a blessing?’”Her followers quickly responded with praise and support.“I guess he didn’t get the memo… black is beautiful,” one fan commented.“I love you for loving you,” shared another. A third added, “Why would we ever want to mess up something so beautiful?”When asked by Yahoo Beauty what advice she would give to young black girls facing similar challenges, she said, “You are beautiful, you are unique, and there are people who love you just the way you are. They say the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice. Embrace your darkness!”

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