“He said, ‘Wow, you’re dark,’” Gatwech says. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ [Laughs].
Comments like the one her Uber driver blurted out one day last March do not phase 24-year-old Sudanese model, Nyakim Gatwech, as she has heard them throughout her entire life. “I can tell when somebody has never seen a Sudanese person before, somebody as dark as me.”
Not only did this man comment on the darkness of Gatwech’s skin, he asked if she would bleach it to a lighter tone for $10,000, as she explained in an Instagram post that rapidly went viral.
This question may seem ludicrous to many, but believe it or not, Gatwech considered bleaching her skin many years ago. Moving to Buffalo, New York from an African refugee camp at the age of 14 was dreadful for Nyakim. She was bullied by students constantly because of the darkness of her skin tone. So, as a result, the young girl who was being told her skin was “dirty” saw this as an easy way to avoid the torture.
It is surprisingly common for Sudanese women to do this to their skin, so common that Nyakim’s own sister did it. However, when the self-doubting 14-year-old told her sister she wanted to follow in her footsteps, she was told not to. “You would not just be bleaching your skin, you would be bleaching your mind. I did it and I regret it. I’m not going to let my daughter do it, or you — nobody.”
“If you love yourself other people will see. It will shine through you and then they have the choice to accept you or walk away.”(Teen Vogue)
Nyakim Gatwech continues to inspire people every day through her encouraging Instagram posts, stunning stories of racism, and wise words to her rapidly growing fan-base.