“You won’t believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin.”
The ad, which has since been taken down, featured an incredibly dark-skinned model who turns out to be fair – presumably after using cosmetics from Watson’s. “Actually I’m not dark,” she trills proudly at the end. “I’m flawless.”
Along with allegations of blackface, which is deeply offensive in the United States but not so much here, the more problematic issue with the ad was its barely-veiled insinuation that dark skin = bad and fair skin = attractive. It’s an outdated, stereotypical judgement that a lot of Malaysians actually have to live with.
Which is why this model is so important.
24-year old Nyakim Gatwech is a Sudanese model who’s taking the fashion world by storm. She has the endless trim legs and perfectly symmetrical facial features of a supermodel, but what really makes her stand out is her skin. It’s dark. As starkly dark as the black-faced Watson’s model.
It is also beautiful.
Nyakim has proudly embraced her fan-given title of “Queen of the Dark”, becoming a vocal advocate for shattering the usual non-diverse standards of beauty.
She’s been told in the past to bleach the darkness out of her skin, but she shrugged off the offensive suggestion with her trademark grace and laughter.
“Beauty is in the beholder,” she wrote in an Instagram caption. “My chocolate is elegant. So is what I represent. I represent a nation of warriors.”
She attributes her otherworldly glowing skin to… coconut oil!
Despite her busy modelling career, Nyakim still takes the time to teach self-love, acceptance, and the importance of diversity to her 198,000 Instagram followers.
When you look into your reflection through the mirror what do you see? I hope you see nothing but how beautiful, smart, intelligent, outstanding, unique you are you!! |Genesis| || creative director/ fashion designer|| @isaacwest || photographer|| @worldtravelingq #southsudanesebeauty???????? #africanqueen?? #chocolate?? #melaninpoppin✨? #melaningoddess?? #nubianqueen???? #nuergirlbeauty???? #model❤️ #naturalhair #africanprintfabric
All photos: @queenkim_nyakim / Instagram