“Queen of the Dark”, model Nyakim Gatwech, Is a Sensation Because of Her Beautiful, Dark Skin

by Piya Sengupta11 months ago
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Picture “Queen of the Dark”, model Nyakim Gatwech, Is a Sensation Because of Her Beautiful, Dark Skin

Beauty comes in all shapes and colors. But despite the social awareness, time and again, it has been proven that deep down, prejudice against colored skin remains. One such story belongs to the beautiful Nyakim Gatwech, an Ethiopian-born American model of South Sudanese descent who supposedly possesses the darkest skin in the entire world. She received endless attention because of her sumptuous, moon-shadow-dark skin and was constantly criticized and stared at. But from that dark place, she rose like a Phoenix and turned it into something positive – a successful modeling career and an inspiration for many!

So, how did her story begin?

Meet Nyakim Gatwech, bullied for being too dark and now an icon of beauty.

Nyakim Gatwech
Nyakim Gatwech. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram

Born in 1993, Nyakim Gatwech has seen the struggle from birth. Her mother fled South Sudan when it was in the throes of a violent civil war. Nyakim was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and later moved to a camp in Kenya. Her childhood was without comfort and stability. When Nyakim was 15 or 16, her mother immigrated to Buffalo, New York, in the United States, to give her two daughters a chance at better lives. Nyakim did not speak English and knew very little about racism. They had never faced that while living in Africa. A new struggle began.

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In middle school, no one wanted to be around her, acting as if she was carrying a disease. The standards of beauty were narrow and constricted. Nyakim said in an interview that even other Black kids socially distanced themselves from her in school.

“Can you even see her?” Nyakim recalls a classmate asking the teacher when she raised her hand after the classroom lights went off for a projector. At that time, a modeling career was not even remotely in her mind. She was still struggling to accept her own skin. Her success as a model came from a combination of all factors-her life, fate, talent, and lastly, accepting who she is without trying to fit in.

From being called a “freak of nature” to “Queen of the Dark,” Nyakim decided to change the narrative.

Queen of the Dark
Queen of the Dark. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the chief psychiatrist at Columbia University, dehumanized Nyakim in an insensitive tweet, calling her a “freak of nature.” This sparked a huge controversy on social media. He was called out for being racist and insensitive and was suspended from all his professional posts.

Screenshot
Screenshot of the tweet which later got deleted. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram
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As for Nyakim, she continued to face racism, prejudice, bullying, and shunning – pick one! Nyakim says, more than racism, she was targeted by “colorism,” which is a type of prejudice favoring lighter skin over dark. Psychologists say that for people experiencing colorism, long-lasting mental health issues like depression, identity crisis, or suicidal thoughts are common. Nyakim was no exception.

Nyakim Gatwich with her mother
Nyakim Gatwich with her mother. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram

But she did not let herself be identified by what the world thinks. For 10 years, in between her jobs as a daycare teacher in Minneapolis and working at Panera Bread while studying for her degree in education, Nyakim produced her photo shoots with the help of her photographer friends. Soon she became an Instagram sensation. She turned her life around, embraced her dark skin, and became a role model for skin positivity, self-love, and confidence. Her admirers online nicknamed her “Queen of the Dark.”

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In 2017, she posted on Instagram about an Uber driver who asked her if she would bleach her skin if she were given $10,000. That became viral. Her reply was, “Why on Earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God blessed me with?”

Though she had considered bleaching before, just to fit in, today, she would not change her skin for any amount of money. The news about her holding a record for having the darkest skin in the world is untrue, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, they do not monitor records for skin tone.

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Today, she is an inspiration with her bold, beautiful approach to self-love and skin positivity.

“You are beautiful, you are unique, and some people love you just the way you are. They say the darker the cherry, the sweeter the juice. Embrace your darkness!” – Nyakim Gatwech

Photoshoot with other model
Photoshoot with other model. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram

Today, Nyakim is proud of her black Sudanese skin and is vocal about it. Her career, social media, and life exemplify positivity and hope. Through her life and work, she exposes deep-rooted prejudices, partialities, and tactlessness of the glamor world and continues to fight the fight for thousands of people of color like her.

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Photoshoot with her mother
Photoshoot with her mother. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram

As she conquers the world with self-confidence, she reminds others that the struggle is real, but one needs to rise above it. This “Queen of the Dark”’s posts on Instagram often go viral, as thousands of readers and followers find their unheard voices through her posts. She continues to inspire other people of color, gender, or those with other issues who are struggling to accept themselves because of how the world makes them feel. Today, she has 973K followers on Instagram.

Nyakim Gatwech
Nyakim Gatwech. Image Credit: Nyakim Gatwech/Instagram

As for me, I believe her story has just begun. Here is wishing her many more beautiful chapters filled with success, motivation, and positivity. Hopefully, Nyakim’s fame and fight will not only help people come out of their struggles but also create a trail of awareness to help others discard their deep-rooted prejudices against anything that looks different from them!

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Picture “Queen of the Dark”, model Nyakim Gatwech, Is a Sensation Because of Her Beautiful, Dark Skin
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