The story of model Nyakim who was told to bleach her skin
The continuing bullying has left deep scars in Nyakim’s psyche. She thought, “These kids think I’m ugly. I don’t see myself on social media, or TV, or in the magazines. I don’t think I’m meant to be a model.” Even though her sister encouraged her to try it, she kept thinking modeling was for lighter-skinned girls only. But then she got a serendipitous opportunity, which set off the chain of events that put Nyakim where she is now.
After Nyakim enrolled in high school in Minneapolis, she was bullied for the first time for the color of her skin. Kids would say things like, “You black as hell, take a shower.” When teachers asked her questions in class, other students replied, “Who are you talking to? We can’t see her. She’s not here.” She spent countless schooldays crying. People said she was ugly, and she was starting to believe it. Even worse, she was starting to consider extreme measures.
Recalling a time when two random men made a bet to see if she was wearing leggings or if her skin really was that dark, Nyakim acknowledges how she had internalized the colorism she faced. “There was a time in my life where I considered bleaching myself to avoid the dirty looks, the laughter, and for boys to find me attractive,” she says. But, luckily, there were people in her life who wouldn’t let her stop loving herself.
The best advice Nyakim ever got was from her older sister: “The most satisfying feeling is when you are comfortable in your own skin and when you accept your beautiful dark, dark melanin.” Other people, too, were starting to notice her natural beauty. People stopped her at the grocery store to tell her she should pursue modeling. The only problem? Nyakim didn’t even know what modeling was. And once she found out, she didn’t believe it was something she could do.
At a school event, Nyakim got a chance to model and walk down the runway wearing her friends’ designs. She discovered she was a natural. She moved to New York and spent every weekend doing photo shoots. For two years, she worked tirelessly to build up her portfolio. It was a tough time, as she faced constant discrimination from designers, makeup artists, and even other models. Nyakim was determined not to give up.
Eventually, Nyakim started breaking through in the world of modeling. She booked more photo shoots and signed more contracts. She had finally deprogrammed herself from the idea that her dark skin was a detriment and not an asset. She had learned self-love, and this empowered her to pursue her dreams with even more determination. But one interaction she had with a stranger brought her back to those darker times.
One day, Nyakim was sitting in an Uber on her way to a job interview in St. Paul when her driver, who she describes as a “light-skinned black man,” told her, “Wow, you’re dark.” “Yeah, I know,” she replied. Then he asked her something that brought back painful memories: “If you were given $10,000, would you bleach your skin for that amount?” And yet, her response was something he probably didn’t expect.
Nyakim burst out laughing. “Why would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God blessed me with?” she said. The man still couldn’t understand why Nyakim considered it a blessing, and even said her life would be easier if she had lighter skin. “Even if being lighter would make my life easier, I’d rather take the hard road,” she replied. She then took her story to social media, where it struck a chord.
Nyakim shared her interaction with the Uber driver on Instagram, and was overwhelmed with the positive response that it got, with people dubbing her the “Queen of the Dark.” “I’m used to people asking the stupidest questions ever about my skin,” she told Cosmopolitan. “I was so surprised that people were moved by this story.” But it was her outlook on life that moved people the most.
The model and aspiring schoolteacher has grown her Instagram page from 20,000 followers to more than 300,000 and has booked professional gigs ranging from local magazine covers to national campaigns for brands like Calvin Klein and Aldo. But more importantly — to her — she has become a woman that little girls look up to when they’re in search of self-love and a positive influence. She promotes a bold message that often challenges the status quo.
When I put a picture up I’m telling people that no matter what you say, I love who I am. I love my skin tone. I’m telling people that I am beautiful even though I look different than the majority of people in this world I live in,” Nyakim said. She challenges the American standards for beauty and hopes that others can find the strength to do the same in their situations. And now, she is sharing the secret for this strength.
It’s nothing scandalous or radical, but it is something that can be hard to cultivate when others try to bring you down. Nyakim believes self-love is the key, expressing, “It takes time to love who you are.
Nyakim loves the nickname her fans have given her. “There is nothing wrong with darkness and being called a queen is just cherry on the top,” she wrote on Instagram. “Black is not a color of sadness or death or evil. It’s just the way it has been portrayed for so many years. So I am the queen of the dark who brings light and love to those around me.” She also wants young women everywhere to know that they can reach out to her to be that person because “self-love is contagious.” “If loving myself and talking about it is helping people, I want to keep doing that. That’s important.” Slay on, Queen. Slay on!
Words Of Encouragement: Be confident in whatever the situation is…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.” So, even though her dark skin was the cause of some tough times, she couldn’t be more grateful to look the way she does.
This is my point of view. The most incredible thing about this incident and the many others, is that we, they, or even you are born in the skin they are in, as we all know. People act as if it is something that we can control. As a black woman I have it hard in America, but I cannot even imagine how difficult this must be for someone much darker than myself, or someone with eyes that are shaped differently than my own.
We pray that our world get better, or that others would show some compassion for other human beings. Am I reaching for the sky here? Am I asking for the impossible? Is the bible fulfilling it self and it will only get worse?
When you think of racism, you would like to think that most of it was gone because of our forefathers who are no longer here. Unfortunately it isn’t because it was just lying dormant and once in a while little incidents would occur. But then it got to the point where in the last few years it is growing like wild fire. Every incident worse than the next until you get to a country more divided than when Martin Luther King was alive. Now if I am wrong please feel free to let me know. Note that this is what I see.
Why do some people think in order to be beautiful, you must be white, or of a lighter complexion?
Nyakim had a dream, and was determined to pursue that dream with great confidence eventually. What a beautiful story. Thank you to the writer of this story.
I Have A Dream Speech:
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”
We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.
We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.
We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.
We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”
We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”